As Earth Day approaches, more companies are looking to release sustainable collections, plant-based products, and exclusive sales — but far less are actually changing their habits to combat climate change long-term. The North Face is labeling itself as one of the few, though, by announcing new commitments meant to give used gear a second life, create sustainable products, and hold the brand accountable for lessening its impact on the planet.
While TNF is the world’s largest outdoor apparel company, it isn’t the only major label to debut new sustainability initiatives. Nike recently announced it would start refurbishing used sneakers for resale in select stores, and Adidas debuted plans to produce a Stan Smith shoe made out of mushrooms. As a collective, brands are looking to make eco-friendly shopping more accessible to consumers, noting the economic power shoppers have. But sustainable solutions aren’t just dependent on individuals, though, and it’s important to make sure brands are holding themselves accountable too.
Backed by science — The North Face has pledged to create the best performing products for exploration, all while using “recycled, renewable, and regenerative materials that leave an ever-smaller footprint on the planet.” Dubbed “Exploration without Compromise,” the brand’s latest sustainability initiative aims to make 100 percent of its materials recycled, regenerative, or renewable by 2025, citing that as of now, half of TNF’s carbon footprint is generated from product creation. The new product strategy will help the brand achieve science-based targets laid out by its parent company, VF Corporation.
To carry out its recycled material goal, The North Face is actively transitioning all of its top synthetic apparel fabrics, like polyester and nylon, to recycled content. The brand also plans to offer products made of recycled cotton, including scraps that might have gone to waste previously, while all single-use plastic packaging will be eliminated by 2025.
Scaling its regenerative efforts, TNF has also partnered with Indigo Ag to help reward cotton farmers implementing sustainable practices. The collaboration allows The North Face to support American farmers in their efforts to start beneficial farming practices, as well as send a demand signal to other growers that regenerative land management is critical to restoring the health of the earth. By rewarding those farming sustainably, perhaps TNF can inspire others to implement more environmentally-friendly practices.
Sustainability made simple — All of these goals lead to one bigger achievement for the brand: circularity. With its lifetime warranty and Renewed program, TNF already repairs and refurbishes used or damaged garments so they can be used again — and now customers who are part of the brand’s XPLR Pass loyalty program can exchange their own lightly used TNF apparel for a gift card.
The change in policy now makes circularity that much more easy for consumers, but the brand also has an upcoming collection dedicated to the cause. In fall of 2022, The North Face plans to launch its own, fully circular apparel for the first time, with more details available closer to the drop date.
For now, consumers will be able to easily identify the brand’s most sustainable products on its website and in-store by looking for the “Exploration Without Compromise” seal. To earn the badge, apparel, equipment, and accessories must be made with 75 percent or greater recycled, organic, regenerative, and / or responsibly sourced renewable materials by weight. Shopping sustainably just got a whole lot easier.