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Green and Light?
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Green and Light? on 08/03/2007 09:30:24 MDT Print View

One of the reasons for the weight increase on the Micro Puff is not just the use of Climashield, but Climashield Green, which is made from recycled fibers. Because of this, it has a slightly lower warmth:weight ratio than, say, Climashield XP or Delta.

So, point of discussion.

Is the addition of one or two ounces of weight in order to buy a "green"(er) product philosophically worth it to you?

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Green and Light? on 08/03/2007 10:36:42 MDT Print View

Definitely, lighter on the earth is worth a few ounces on my back. Besides Patagonia's excellent design quality, their environmental practices are one of my main reasons for buying their stuff...

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Green and Light? - Maybe on 08/03/2007 10:40:25 MDT Print View

The answer is always "maybe."

On trips where the primary goal is to challenge myself gear performance is much more important than "green."

Green is important for semi-outdoor gear. The Marmot Precip is my choice for vaction travel but not for serious trips where you intent to push the envelope. I have a GoLite Six Month Night parka that is great for things like football stadiums and testing the stove on the patio in the snow.

Performance is what matters when my life could depend on it.

Edited by food on 08/03/2007 10:43:28 MDT.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Green and Light? on 08/03/2007 11:03:18 MDT Print View

Really depends how much greener.

Driving 55 mph instead of 65 mph or turning your thermostat down to 65 probably has a greener impact than the green factor on one jacket over its useful lifespan.

Although driving 55 may not be that green since fellow drivers floor it to pass you. But it can be fun ;)

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Re: Green and Light? on 08/03/2007 11:19:02 MDT Print View

haha, that is a great point that I have never thought about. When one person is driving slowly it saves on gas but is probably overall less efficient due to the amount of anxious drivers trying to get around them. Oh the complexities of environmentalism...

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Green and Light? on 08/03/2007 11:36:40 MDT Print View

Since not much else that I do is geared towards a 'greener' Earth I'm going to have to say no. I would much rather save a few ounces than pay more for a heavier product that is better for the environment. I'm not sure how much of an impact something like this would have anyway. Sure, gas-electric cars and houses that run on solar/wind/etc power probably make a big difference but we have to face the fact that backpackers aren't that huge of a demographic. I don't think selling a few 'green' products to us is going to make a very noticeable change. Maybe my rural, conservative, Catholic upbringing has skewed my perception of the 'real world' though. I can live with that...
College know-it-all hippies, those are the worst type. (South Park reference, not personal attack on those who want to do their part to have less of an impact on the environment)


As a side note: The last trail building outing I was on there was a woman who was looking to start hiking. She didn't know anyone who hiked and joined up with us to meet people that did hike. When we stopped for lunch many of us pulled out sandwichs, bags of potato chips, cookies, soda, etc. She said "I kind of thought everyone here would be eating only organic food." A lot of us got a chuckle from that. Do we really put off that kind of image? :)

Alan Garber
(altadude) - F
green and SUL on 08/03/2007 13:27:06 MDT Print View

I find it fascinating that those us who are invested in being outdoors and enjoying the backcountry would not be interested in being greener. I for one applaud Patagucci's attempts. I don't think their gear is all that special and def not worth the high prices. I don't own any of their stuff and won't pay for it. But that is me. I do, however, respect their environmental attitude.

I find the degredation of the environment by Everest climbers awful-the litter and waste is disgusting. So being green is important to me.

Finally, I think the greatest hope for the environment is having nice green landscape at everyone's "backdoor." That way people would have the opportunity to enjoy the environment and not spoil it by littering, etc. I love being able to do all my daily activities right out my front door in all four seasons.......

So, I would use slightly heavier gear if made in a greener fashion.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Yvon Chouinard's point on 08/03/2007 13:36:06 MDT Print View

What is missing here in considering Patagonia's 'greener' products is the fact that the company, from the top down, is trying to lead by example. The company isn't acting under the assumption that their products are going to make a world of environmental difference, only that someone, somewhere has to start acting responsibly. They are also attempting to pioneer new practices, materials, and production methods to be a more responsible company and in, Mr. Chouinard's own words, "Do the least amount of harm". He's hoping that this will inspire and empower other corporations to take the same path, as some manufacturers have started to do with organically grown cotton.

As for the question at hand, I would answer yes, with conviction. If I'm given the alternative between two products, one lighter and one more sustainable, both equally capable of the task for which they are designed, I'll choose the more environmentally friendly option. If it means sacrificing functionality, or, as was stated earlier, less safe, then my choice may differ.

Why? Simple: its the right thing to do. Lately, there is a LOT of discussion about the environment and mankind's impact (or lack thereof) on it. So far, this has cheifly taken the form of rhetoric and sloganization moreso than anything else. We constantly hear words like greener, carbon footprint, and environmental impact. However, little sacrifice is being made by us as a people and very little sacrifice is being asked of us by our leaders. I guess my decision is based as much on this as it is my desire to make an actual environmental impact. I believe, like Chouinard, that someone has to step up to the plate.

Edited by rswanson on 08/03/2007 13:40:01 MDT.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
"Green and Light?" on 08/03/2007 14:18:29 MDT Print View

Yes I would and in "some" cases already do carry a few more onces in the name of enviromentalisim. One example is my alcohol stove- made of recycled cans and using alcohol insead of petroleum with a canister for the landfill when done( I do know in some places you can recycle those to). O.K thats not really a good example since it can be as light or lighter than a canister but I give up the convienince of a canister stove. Probably the only real enviromentally sound thing I do is avoid most of the SUL gear that wont last more than a few seasons. Durable UL gear can last decades with some care and a little luck. The problem with that though is the UL movment hasnt been around very long relativly speaking, and designs have been evolving so often along with people who need to buy new gear to keep up with thier progress -getting lighter every year and trying new things - myself definatly included.
Also there hasnt been any real disscusion on how one would go about buying "green" gear and what a "green" gear list might really look like? bamboo cloth packs? No synthetic hiking clothing? It would have to be safe and practical of coarse.
But lets face it, a lot of gear heads will just ratoinalize thier cunsumption and defend the undefendable I know I have ! - but I would love to see more disscusion about this by the people here who would like to go "green-er"

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: green and SUL on 08/03/2007 14:58:11 MDT Print View

Just a few remarks to Alan's post regarding Patagonia. The price of their products is directly related to their materials and production methods. There is also a correlation between their prices and the philosophy of the company, which is to make the most durable product that has the least amount of environmental impact, manufactured in the most responsible manner. With these goals comes a high price tag.

For a similar example, look at organically grown farm products. A locally produced egg from a free-range chicken is going to cost more than an egg from a factory farm but the result is a healthier, possibly less harmful, tastier product. In short, you get what you pay for. The extrapolation can be made that if being truly 'green' is important one must pay the price. We can't have our cake and eat it, too. Going green will require sacrifice in not only our routines and consumptive choices, but also from our wallets.

John S.
(jshann) - F
; P SuperUltraGreen Backpacking on 08/03/2007 15:02:10 MDT Print View

Not in this case of a jacket, for me personally. We all should make choices to go "greener", but must we do or buy everything that comes along? No. This one doesn't make my list.

Did it cost Patagonia more or less to produce this "greener" jacket?

If Ryan starts making/selling "greener" products at the cost of our precious grams, he will have to change that bumper sticker to, "He Who Dies With The GREENEST PACK...WINS" (!

Edited by jshann on 08/04/2007 09:52:12 MDT.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Green Performance... Nau... Other Thoughts on 08/03/2007 15:15:19 MDT Print View

Just a quick blurb for Nau. I've got some of their stuff, their Base 1 (made from PLA), is quite nice on the skin resists stink pretty darn well.

It was founded by some ex-Patagonia execs and some other outdoor companies, and is ground up environmentally conscious. Everything is either a) 80-100% recycled content, or b) sustainable (merino wool, organic cotton, PLA and other biopolymers). Obviously the cotton isn't ultralite, but most of their stuff is dual use (backcountry and "real life")... plus it's on sale at the moment.

Also, I gotta echo the comments that most of us can make FAR more environmental impact in our daily lives than in our choice of outdoor gear. However, I'm perfectly happy with LW/UL gear if it means that gear is environmentally concious rather than cramming into SUL. Though, one has to remember that SUL is kind-of by definition green... why? the mantra 'Reduce-Reuse-Recycle'... that is, in order, the best way to lower one's environmental footprint.

Reduce = Get by with as little as possible. This is the first and most powerful step. A full tent takes far more resources to create than a simple tarp.
Reuse = The second most powerful step... isn't this also one of the tenets of SUL philosophy? NO UNITASKERS!!!
Recycle = The lease of the three, but still powerful. And, again, it's part of the SUL philosophy, but here you are, in some ways, getting extreme... reusing baby wipes (when used for cleaning your hands) by laying them on top of your pack to dry out and using them later as fire starter... (I'm sorry if anyone takes offense at the term extreme as this is the only good example that comes close to recycling in SUL... really most of the time what we call 'recycling' is really reusing...)

Anyhow, I just thought it's funny that the 'Green Mantra' (Reduce-Reuse-Recycle), is a pretty close match to the 'SUL Rules' and how the order that they are in is also the order that makes the biggest impact in lowering our environmental footprint as well as lowering our base pack weights...

Edited by jdmitch on 08/03/2007 15:17:35 MDT.

Lorraine Pace
(SowthEfrikan) - F
I have no intention of sacrificing on 08/03/2007 17:20:25 MDT Print View

I'll leave that to the more enlightened. Sacrifice is for the haves, the have-nots would love to be in a positon to be able to afford sacrifice. Most are too busy trying to survive.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: I have no intention of sacrificing on 08/03/2007 18:46:54 MDT Print View

While I would dispute that sacrifice is only for the 'Haves' (if the outcome of environmental neglect is as some suggest everyone be making major sacrifices in the end) you touch upon another problem: the 'Haves' are not sacrificing enough! For example, take the United States as a whole. We're the biggest 'Have' country but we're consuming at a per capita pace that far outsrips every other country in the world.

Joshua makes some very good points, as well. In particular, the 'reuse' tenant of the lightweight backpacking ideal. Durability is a key concern here. In studying the impact of Patagonia's products, Chouinard made a surprising discovery. Over the various phases of clothing life span (fabric manufacture, construction, distribution, care by owner, disposal) by far the largest amount of environmental harm is caused by customer care of the garmet.

This premise can be easily transferred to the wear and tear that a piece of backpacking gear can withstand and how long its useful life will be. Making more durable goods is certainly a way that manufacturers can make their products greener. Similarly, caring for your gear so that it requires less frequent replacement makes you a greener consumer. To bring my posting full circle, buying less gear also lessens your impact on the environment. Perhaps being a 'Have Not' (self imposed or not) is the biggest step one can take towards being green.

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Re: Green and Light? on 08/03/2007 19:10:05 MDT Print View

It's not worth it to me to pay more in weight or dollars for products that are marketed to play on guilt or to a fad. Then again, I make a lot of my own gear, some of it with down that's been recycled from trashed or well-warn shells. Much of the fabric I buy is seconds that would have no value were it not for the secondary craft market. So I don't have much concern for guilt or fads.

Patagonia's use of recycled materials reminds me of defense contractors and military depot's using non-volatile, non-heavy metal based paints to coat their bombs and missiles with. Sure, it's an improvement, but the base product facillitates grosser environmental damage. Same with mass marketing any product that increases the load on wilderness areas. So I see Patagonia's efforts as a mixed bag at best. Thankfully I see more Patagonia products working as campus or urbanite chic, rather than for back country use. I shudder to think what their rags would cost if it weren't subsidized by the sales to fashionistas, who I doubt are affected much by their educational campaigns (other than as a marketing hook).

I get more benefit bike commuting to work every other day or running my evaporative cooler outside the desert 'monsoon' season than worrying how to shave carbon points from gear. I do these things mainly for my benefit to health and well-being, but happily appropriate technologies frequently cost less economically and in their environmental impact.

I'd bet Patagonia's recycled insulation actually costs more than virgin fiber. If so, it is likely more costly to the environment somewhere, just as hybrid vehicles cost more over their life cycle in manufacturing, shipping costs and use and disposal of heavy metals. They are marketable because of subsidies and are a loss leader to the auto makers. They also won't save enough in gas to pay for their premium cost over an efficient ICE vehicle of similar size. It's tough to beat the dollar as an indicator of impact. As bad as mass industrialization is, it's efficiency benefits us economically and environmentally. Back in the days where there were thousands of regional refiners the oil and gas industry was much dirtier than it is today.

I predict the use of LED technology that got it's first market in outdoor performance lighting will ultimately be a very green, very economical technology that will dwarf the impact of recycling plastics into fiber.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Green and Light? on 08/03/2007 22:54:36 MDT Print View

Short answer to Dr. Ryan's question, no. I'd rather have a new, light and resonably durable product, then keep it for years.
Whether we buy only recycled products, or none at all will make no difference. We humans, especially the 3 billion or so in the developing world will consume all of the world's resources until they are all gone; and that was Chouinard's expressed opinion also, as explained in Let My People Go Surfing. Further, the rate of consumption will increase as these countries develop.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Green and Light? on 08/04/2007 01:40:18 MDT Print View

Nope. Doesn't seem very likely that, even if every single UL backpacker in the world gave up one or two ounces of weight in exchange for a "green"(er) product, there would be any more than a "sub-nano" impact -- if that.

Besides, one consequence of an increasingly light pack is less and less product -- green or not. Which shows, as they say, that there's more than one way to skin a cat.


Brian UL

Locale: New England
"Green and Light?" on 08/04/2007 06:48:26 MDT Print View

I apoligize upfront for this small political rant: I would just like to comment on something brought up here that I hear alot- That the US uses more resources per capita than the rest of world and so on.
First this is a socialist/marxist attitude, the assumption being that the worlds resorces "should" be evenly divided by everyone and that the * insert anti-U.S. remark here * U.S. uses more than its fair share. Is it really suprising that a large industrial nation uses more resources than say, a farming culture with no tradition of industrialization? Industry/technology is not the enemy. We can use these tools responsibly or not, we can have clean sustanable industry if we choose.
And on topic:
I agree with the idea that durability is probably more enviromentaly sound than recycled materials -if the recycled materials are not as durable and causes you to replace it more often. I like the idea of buying fewer items of gear that last a good long time. This can be hard though for the reasons I stated earlier ( upgrading and so on).
I would also like to point out that although this thread asked if you would carry more to go greener -that dosn't mean that to go greener=heavy or expensive: alcohol stoves, MYOG using remnants,thrift store finds are all light and cheap.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Brian - Socialist/Marxist Attitude? on 08/04/2007 07:26:06 MDT Print View

"I would just like to comment on something brought up here that I hear alot- That the US uses more resources per capita than the rest of world and so on.
First this is a socialist/marxist attitude

Don't know why a statement of fact should be considered a "socialist/marxist attitude".

Here is a fact from the CIA World Fact Book
"the US is the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels". Is this a Socialist/Marxist attitude too?

Edited by pappekak on 08/04/2007 07:27:40 MDT.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Socialist/Marxist Attitude? on 08/04/2007 08:59:19 MDT Print View

The facts you quote arnt in them selves marxist and Im not arguing that they are wrong, what Im talking about is the idea implied or stated that the US or the 'west' uses more than our "fair" share. Many people I talk to ( I went to school in Cambridge and Boston {despite my bad spelling}) give the impression that we horde and thus deny the rest of the world resources that are not ours i.e. imperialism.
YES, Im sure we are the #1 polluter
YES, we must take responsibility for it and push for change.
My only reason for making that comment was because I didnt want the issue to be framed only in leftist terms-probably should have kept it to my self, but I hear it so often I got compelled to comment on it- Sorry.