As companies look to boost their corporate responsibility profiles, they need look no further for inspiration than to blueprints set by the outdoor industry. Adventure brands and tour operators have been involved in responsible enterprises for generations, founding opportunity on strong social and environmental principles that only now occupy mainstream consumerism.
The wisest brands have made the most of the technological revolution, creating fabulous websites and mobile applications that help spread their projects. Now widespread across travel and retail sectors, adventure-related products and their websites decorate the internet.
Many striking innovations come from the manufacturers of adventure apparel and equipment. California-based Patagonia are widely considered to be at the forefront of responsible retail, a reputation that is supported by environmental essays, conservation projects and a commitment to create fully recyclable, durable apparel. One of the brand's more recent innovations is The Footprint Chronicles, an application that exposes the positive and negative aspects of Patagonia's own production line.
Other brands have focused on distribution, highlighting the significant effects of transportation and packaging on the environment. A Box Life was introduced by Columbia Sportswear to create an interaction between trade and consumer clients through tracking the movements of a single box. The technology demonstrates the strength of social as a driving force in motivating responsible behaviour.
Tour operators take a slightly different angle on corporate responsibility by making the most of location-based enterprise and greater budgets to good effect. At the premium end of the market, Wilderness Safaris built their business model around conserving communities and ecosystems. Considerable investment has since gone into the purchase of threatened natural environments which are in turn developed and sustained through localised tourism.
Efforts by accommodations range from the spectacular to the humble. The recently completed Monte Rosa Hütte is a bastion of Swiss design, maximising architectural efficiency at an altitude of 1883m. The Hütte is designed to limit surface area whilst maximising frontage and angulation for solar panels. Meanwhile in the wilds of the Scottish highlands, a modest approach is taken by the Loch Ossian Youth Hostel who use solar panels and a wind turbine to heat and light an ordinary cabin in one of the most remote rural retreats in the UK.
The adventure industry has shown that the most enduring corporate responsibility models come through creative projects. Perhaps the greatest depiction of this trend comes in the form of snow sports film All.I.Can, a production that narrows the gap between ethics and fashion.
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