As part of Outdoor Cap's celebration of earth day we recently sat down with Kara Kelcey, Outdoor Cap's Director of Corporate Responsibility and the head of the company's Sustainability Task Force to discuss Outdoor Cap's commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.
What are the reasons behind Outdoor Cap's commitment to sustainability and being environmentally responsible?
Outdoor Cap’s Sustainability Task force was created in response to the push towards sustainability within the apparel industry that has been growing over the past several years. As is often the case with accessories, especially textile-based products like caps, consumer sentiments drive trends. In our case that meant recognizing the increasing demands from consumers and government regulators to ensure our products and the fashion industry in general are more sustainable.
The Sustainability Task force works to identify opportunities and implement strategies to have a positive environmental impact while also positioning Outdoor Cap to become best in class within the headwear industry for customers seeking sustainable products.
How does Outdoor Cap's Corporate Responsibility team ensure an environmentally conscious and responsible approach to the manufacture and sale of headwear?
The members of the Corporate Responsibility team also serve on Outdoor Cap’s Sustainability Task force along with representatives from Sourcing, Product Development and Sales. It is the Sustainability task force team who reviews and decides as a group how we approach our sustainability efforts.
Specifically, within the Sustainability task force the CR team assists with researching and identifying which verification programs are best fit for Outdoor Cap. We record and maintain certifications related to our sustainability efforts to provide to customers as required.
Where have your seen Outdoor Cap take great strides in recent year's when it comes to environmental responsibility and sustainability?
Probably the biggest strides have been with our products themselves, specifically replacing virgin fiber fabrics with more sustainable substitutions. We selected BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) and Repreve® recycled polyester as our initial preferred fibers of focus.
As of today, our stock Blaze Orange fabric (IWBLZ-R) is made of 60% recycled Repreve® polyester.
Repreve® turns plastic bottles into recycled polyester fibers. Products made using Repreve® fibers are easily traceable, they use tracer technology within the fibers that allows them to analyze and validate REPREVE fiber content claims and composition of fabric used in finished products.
Outdoor Cap’s primary camouflage fabric, CVC DUK (CMT-DUK) is made using BCI fibers along with PCTB & HPDW fabric. Our GWT (Garment Washed Twill) fabric is next on list to make the switch over to the BCI version.
BCI makes use of a credit transfer system across the supply chain that is helping cotton farmers adopt more sustainable practices, using less water, better soil, fewer pesticides, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They also help to improve conditions for workers by focusing on gender equality, fair labor practices & safe working conditions.
What is a current product or initiative the task force is working on in relation to environmental responsibility that excites you?
Increasing the sustainability of our supply chain. Fabric mills and manufacturers can make improvements that will have a significantly greater impact than any changes we could make here in the office.
Outdoor Cap has committed that all our products will be made using fabrics purchased from textile mills who are working towards improving sustainability by participating in Higg FEM (Facility Environmental Module, you can read more about this at https://apparelcoalition.org/higg-facility-tools/). Our company goal is to reach 50% participation rate in our Tier 2 suppliers by end of this year.
The Higg Facility Environmental Module informs manufacturers, brands, and retailers about the environmental performance of their individual facilities, empowering them to scale sustainability improvements. The Higg FEM provides facilities with a clear picture of their environmental impacts. It helps them identify and prioritize opportunities for performance improvements in areas of environmental impact like greenhouse gas emissions, water and energy use, wastewater handling, and chemical management.
What would you want Outdoor Cap's legacy to be regarding environmental responsibility and sustainability?
I personally want to see Outdoor Cap prepared and well positioned to provide our customers sustainable product offerings. A feel-good side effect of working towards that goal is that our company will be reducing our environmental impacts over time.