The opportunity for each of us to be everyday stewards and make tangible changes where we live, work and play brings a sense of purpose and meaning to our lives.
Along the pioneering journey of reducing REI’s impact on the planet, while supporting a healthy and growing business, one of the activities that inspires me the most is teaming up with REI employees and engaging with community leaders who are caring for our shared environment across the country.
For example, last spring, it was a pleasure to join fellow employees and local high school and college students in a service project in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York. This was the beginning of a collaborative effort by our employees to maintain outdoor spaces in each of New York City’s five boroughs. Earlier in the year, it was inspiring to attend the national Net Impact conference, speaking with enlightened business school students and business leaders about REI’s sustainability journey, and to share ideas of how we support business growth and a healthy planet.
Closer to home, it is energizing to witness the ways in which REI employees have embraced their leadership roles in our long-term stewardship aspirations – from an individual’s pledge to change how they commute to work; to our Private Brand’s team approach to product and package design, sourcing and manufacture; to our active participation in industry-wide collaborations to influence broad change.
Our annual stewardship report is published to be transparent in our business practices with our employees, members, customers and others. Some highlights include:
$4.48 million granted to more than 330 local and national nonprofits that share our commitment to care for the great outdoors. The result was 3.4 million volunteer hours to protect and maintain natural spaces and recreational areas
More than 540 REI-sponsored conservation projects, including 35,990 volunteers and 137,089 hours of “sweat equity” on trails, parks and waterways
A decrease in REI’s operational waste, led by recycling efforts in our distribution centers
A continued solar investment through the addition of 12 new systems, bringing the company’s total solar power generating installations to 23 stores and one distribution center
A highly engaged workforce and record low turnover of 26.6 percent, compared to the average retail industry rate of 63 percent
As our sixth annual stewardship report is published, we recognize there is considerable work to be done in order for us to meet our environmental aspirations.
Achieving these goals while we continue to grow to serve our members and community is challenging and requires innovation well beyond our ability to accomplish them independently. We firmly believe that sustainability is a “team sport,” and we will continue to work collaboratively with others to make steady progress.
On behalf of REI’s 11,000 employees, thank you for your interest in the co-op’s stewardship efforts and continued support of our business.
Whether on the trail, on a bicycle or on the water, we hope you find time to take in the beauty of nature and invite you to join us in a fun and rewarding stewardship project, caring for lands and water close to home.