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An ethical approach to waterproof jackets

Words by Taunton Leisure

on 04/11/2021 17:14:15

An ethical approach to waterproof jackets

Take a look as we unravel the steps taken by our ethical manufacturers to make our essential waterproof jackets better on the planet and those who make them.

Over the last few years many of our suppliers have put great work into the advancement of outdoor equipment technologies, specifically with the goal of making their products as for good for the planet and those who make them as they can. Today on the TL blog we’ll be highlighting some of the fantastic steps taken by companies like Patagonia, Rab, Páramo and more to show you exactly what kind of things can be achieved when making one of the classic British outdoor essentials, a waterproof jacket.

With the chilly seasons setting in, it is vital that in this cold we keep ourselves warm and dry. In wet conditions second only to staying at home (no thanks!), the waterproof jacket couple of course with some stylish waterproof trousers is the most efficient way of keeping you dry when out hiking across rainy hills. When it comes to picking our brands at the beginning of each season, it is very important to us that each shows at least some forward step into more ethical practices. We’ll star with one of the most innovative advances in the making of technical fabrics.

Our brands are making innovative, high performing fabrics out of discarded waste

That’s right! Over the years, ways have been brought about which now allows our brands to source incredibly well performing fabrics from discarded consumer waste. At the forefront of this process was Patagonia who can now proudly say that 89% of their polyester products are made using recycled waste. Many of our other brands also utilise this, the main form of recycled polyester coming from the millions upon millions of plastic bottles thrown away each year. You can commonly find both recycled polyester on the face of a waterproof jacket, its outer fabric.
For when however, you’re looking for the optimally durable jacket which can take on horrid conditions for countless adventures, you’ll need something a little tougher than polyester. Before recently recycled nylon fabrics were always a challenge, it was hard to create a fabric which could stand up as optimally to abrasion and flex as virgin nylon fabrics. However recent innovations have overcome this obstacle and you can now find waterproof jackets such as the Torrentshell Range from Patagonia or the Gore-Tex Jackets from Rab such as the Kangri now utilise recycled nylon outers made from discarded carpets and fishing nets amongst other things as well as a lot of pre consumer waste, the kind we don’t often see.

Our brands are now making jackets with the intention that they will be fully recyclable once done with use

With the innovation of Rab’s new Arc Eco Jacket, this represents a new type of waterproof that can be fully recycled when it has eventually expended its use. After a long journey of high performance over years of adventure when the Arc Eco eventually wears out it can be recycled. Made from 100% post-consumer recycled polyester, Pertex Shield Revolve is made from a polyester face, polyester membrane and polyester backer. This monopolymer, or single type of material, not only has a reduced impact during production, it paves the way to be recycled again at the end of its life.
On the other end of the brand spectrum, the folks at Páramo actually go so far as to take used Páramo jackets back off those who’ve owned them providing both a discount on a new jacket for the owner as well as a new life for the old jacket, both repairing and revitalising the jacket in order to sell on once more at a discounted price through the Páramo seconds store. Extending the life of the product in this way ensures that it gets as much use as possible.


More and more of our brands are rejecting the use of Polyfluorinated compounds in their products

Polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are a chemical with may different varieties. Their main use is in their water and oil resistant properties which make them very useful in a number of products such as car wax, non stick pans and of course waterproof jackets. However these chemicals also have a bad side which heavily takes its toll on the environment. Thanks to their strong molecular bonds, PFCs do not readily break down. This means that when a jacket is thrown away or even washed, PFCs are released into the environment and are then there to stay. These chemicals when built up in large numbers put simply are toxic to different eco systems and are very difficult to get rid of.
A number of our brands are embracing a future PFC free. Páramo have been doing so for years as one of the first companies to banish them from their products for good. Instead Páramo relys on the fantastic PFC free, water –resistant properties of their sister company, Nikwax. Nikwax DWR treatments are now used across several of our brands including Rab. Other brands are also now using their own PFC free methods of creating that wonderful water resistant finish on all of their jackets.

All of our brands have a form of Fair trade certification

Every decent outdoor garment requires the eye and skill of an experienced maker. With the industry today, it is impossible to make an ethical product without treating the manufacturers fairly for their great work. It takes an immensely talented workforce to craft the kinds of waterproof jackets with which our brands bring out. That is why it is so important that these talented people are properly compensated for their superb work.
To begin, all of our brands are Fairtrade certified however some have pushed it further by aligning themselves with other independent organisations whose chief aim is to create an industry which thrives to be the most ethical it can be.
Rab and Mountain Equipment are both members of the Fair Wear foundation, a non-profit organisation. They know there’s a better way to make clothes. Their mission is to see a world where the garment industry supports workers in realising their rights to safe, dignified, properly paid employment.
Páramo’s partnership with the Miquelina Foundation in Bogotá, Colombia began in 1992. This partnership gives valuable opportunities for vulnerable people – women at risk of poor living and drugs are offered training and employment, homes and childcare. Over 80% of Páramo’s annual production occurs at Miquelina, including all their Analogy waterproof garments. All garments manufactured at Miquelina carry the World Fair Trade Organization Fair Trade label.

Take a look at our superb range of eco-friendly waterproof jackets HERE

As always, happy walking.

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