When choosing which brand you buy from for your next river adventure many factors may come into play. You may look for quality, a good price, or even style. Another factor to consider is the company’s impact on the environment and society as a whole. Without clean rivers, rafting trips are far less enjoyable. Less snowpack in the Rockies due to climate change means shorter boating seasons. Companies that treat their employees poorly help create an unjust society. This may result in you, the consumer, having fewer people who can afford to go rafting with you. With these things in mind, a company’s impact should be a primary consideration when deciding where to purchase river gear.
No. 1: Patagonia
When it comes to ethically made goods, giving back to environmental causes, and zero impact manufacturing, Patagonia comes to mind first and foremost. Patagonia has been on the cutting edge of green outdoor technology since its conception, and has pledged 1% of all sales towards preservation and restoration of the natural environment since 1985.
Additionally, Patagonia has taken part in grassroots activism around the world. For example, Patagonia helped fight legislation that would have allowed several dams to be built throughout Chilean Patagonia, which would have devastated its natural ecosystem and hydrology. Together with many local Gauchos (rancher-land owners) they were successful, although the threat of dams still lingers in Chilean Patagonia.
No. 2: Werner
Werner, producer of some of the best kayaking paddles that money can buy, gives you yet another reason to buy their awesome products. With their Healthy Waters initiative Werner supports non profits such as American Rivers, Ottawa Riverkeeper, and Passage Adventures. American Rivers is the nation’s leading non profit organization protecting and restoring America’s rivers.
By choosing to buy a Werner paddle, in a small way, you are directly improving the paddling experience of all American Paddlers. Passage Adventures is probably Werner’s most interesting non profit that they support. Passage adventures was a kayaking expedition from Glacier Bay, Alaska, to Victoria, Vancouver, which raised over 20,000 australian dollars in support of marine debris cleanup efforts.
No. 3: Northwest River Society
Bill Parks, the founder of the famous Northwest River Society (NRS) based in Moscow, Idaho, has led the way in fair labor practices in the outdoor industry. When Bill turned 80 and decided to retire, he made a striking decision: he decided to give his company to his employees, rather than sell to the highest bidder.
Ever since, NRS has been employee owned, guaranteeing that employees have a voice in company decisions. NRS also supports several nonprofits that work to maintain clean rivers and restore damaged ones, such as American Rivers.
No. 4: United By Blue
Every product that is sold by United By Blue removed 1 pound of trash the the worlds waterways. Currently, they have removed 1.7 million pounds of trash. They are working to combat single use products such as plastic and get them removed from our environment. United By Blue organizes and hosts the actually clean ups so they can measure their impact and ensure their money is going to a just cause.
Additionally, they sell locally sourced products that will last longer and will not end of in our land fills or oceans. They focus on using responsible maerials such as recycled polyester from plastic water bottles, so they will not end up in our waterways.
Whether companies are supporting inspiring expeditions such as Passage Adventures or donating millions of dollars towards environmental efforts, your decision of whether to purchase is what matters most. So make these efforts known: vote with your dollar, and support the company that supports your lifestyle and recreation of choice. Clean rivers may be in everybody’s interest, but to you, the avid adventurer, their importance is paramount.