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Concern with REI's packaging as it relates to Sustainability

I am really concerned with the packaging that REI uses - the amount of plastic is excessive.  I ordered one bike jersey and one pair of bike shorts.  The jersey was delivered today by itself because the shorts are back-ordered.  The jersey came in a thick plastic shipping bag, and it was inside a second plastic bag, and there were 3 large sheets of plastic inside the bag around the jersey.  Five pieces of plastic to contain and ship one item!

If REI is truly committed to protecting the outdoors I recommend that you do a thorough analysis of your materials usage for packaging and shipping products.  The plastic that was included with my purchase is NOT recyclable.  So not only is it a petroleum product with a significant carbon footprint, it is also going to a landfill where it will exist forever.

I know that other retailers of outdoors gear are working very hard to do better.  I hope REI will become a leader in this area!

6 Replies

@palmettomark thank you so much for reaching out to us with your concerns around packaging on your recent order; these moments provide great opportunities for us to reflect on our current processes and evaluate what improvements we can make!

In consultation with our Sustainability team, here is a little context on the concerns you raise above:

  • You mentioned that your order was shipped in a plastic bag. Shipping bags are an example of the trade-off that sometimes must be made in packaging decisions. While a cardboard box would be more recyclable at our members' homes, as very few recycling programs accept plastic film, a shipping bag uses much less material and has a lower overall environmental footprint than the box. An interesting study was done which shows the differences - you can read about it here. The shipping bags we use are actually recyclable in most drop-off locations as they are made of #4 LDPE, which is accepted for drop-off recycling. You can find locations near you here. That said, we realize that we do need to indicate this on our bags, so that our members are sure the bags are okay to place in film recycling; we are working on getting this message printed on our shipping bags.
  • While single-use plastics can be effective in protecting products during transportation and sale, they are also often a source of inefficiency and waste within organizations, and of pollution and degradation in the environment. REI recognized this and eliminated the use of individual polybags on most of our Co-op branded apparel items many years ago. However, we still saw an opportunity to further improve our process by roll-packing items for shipping from the factory; roll-packing involves neatly folding and compactly rolling items, secured with a raffia tie made of recycled FSC-certified paper, making shipping more efficient and reducing waste. We have implemented roll-packing across all eligible Co-op branded apparel items in 2019, and are sharing our success with our peers in the outdoor industry and the broader apparel industry, in the hopes that we can spread this practice and significantly reduce the overall use of plastic packaging.

Thank you again for raising your concern in the community; we have made note of the additional plastic sheets that were included within the jersey itself.

Finally, if you are curious to learn more about REI's commitment to sustainability, and the efforts we have and are making, please follow this link to view our Stewardship Report.

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hello @REI-JenK 

I found this page when looking to see if the white plastic shipping bag my item came in is recyclable.  The bags still have no recycle markings, so this still needs clarification.

I do see that the shipping label is printed directly on the plastic, rather than attaching a separate paper label, and it seems like that makes the bags more recyclable -- if they are actually recyclable.

Thanks, Stephen



Thanks for the question!

We reached out to our sustainability team to see if we could get some more detail for you. We're excited to let you know that we are about to roll out new shipping bags that have a 'How2Recycle' logo on them, informing recipients that they can be dropped off at a recycling site that accepts plastic film (such as a grocery store that accepts plastic shopping bags, for example). As we integrate them into our system, customers could begin to see them as soon as the end of June. Some of our plastic shipping bags still must have a shipping label attached, and those bags will contain a 'How2Recycle' logo that informs customers that the label must be removed before recycling.

Hope this helps, thanks!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@REI-JohnJ Fantastic - Thanks!


June 2021. Package arrived in white plastic bag still with no indications as to how/if bag is recyclable. Any update on this? Thank you.

Would REI consider using compostable mailers instead of the non-compostable plastic mailers?

There are a number of companies out there selling compostable plastic mailers that are very similar to the non-compostable ones REI uses.

I would order a lot more from if you used compostable plastic.