Recreational Equipment Inc, commonly known as REI, is an American outdoor retailer founded in 1938 by Lloyd Anderson and Mary Anderson. The multinational clothing-retail company creates apparel and equipment for men, women, and children.

REI makes gear for backpacking, cycling, staying in shape, and more, including clothing, footwear, and accessories. It operates nearly 150 stores and has 15,000 employees in stores, factories, logistics, brands, and subsidiaries across the USA.

REI is committed to environmental protection and social responsibility. It takes numerous initiatives to reduce its ecological and social impacts, including better materials, conservation efforts, lower waste, and energy efficiency.

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Sustainability Rating: 7/10

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Category: Clothing, accessories, shoes, bags

For: Women, men, children

Type: Basics, denim, dresses, knitwear, activewear, underwear, loungewear, swimwear, outerwear, boots, flats, sneakers, sandals

Style: Casual

Quality: Medium

Prices: $$

Sizes: 2XS-3XL, 0-18 (US), 2-20 (UK), 32-48 (EU), 4-22 (AU), plus

Fabrics: Cotton, linen, hemp, ramie, jute, lyocell, modal, viscose, acetate, polyester, nylon, spandex, polyethylene, polypropylene, acrylic, neoprene, polyurethane, rubber, leather, wool, silk, down

100% Organic: No

100% Vegan: No

Ethical & Fair: Yes

Recycling: Yes

Producing countries: Cambodia, China, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, United States, Vietnam

Certifications: GOTS, OCS, GRS, RWS, RDS, LWG, Bluesign, FSC, Fair Trade, SA8000, WRAP, FLA

Sustainability Practices

REI takes wide-ranging measures to protect biodiversity, reduce its consumption of water, energy, and other resources, avoid waste, and combat climate change.

It wants to be better and more efficient by looking at every aspect of its value chain to ensure the healthy functioning of our planet. However, the majority of its business remains detrimental to the environment.

REI only uses a tiny proportion of organic materials such as organic cotton and hemp or recycled materials such as recycled polyester and regenerated nylon.

Most of the fabrics it uses are either natural without relevant certifications, such as regular cotton or linen, or synthetic petroleum-based fibers, such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, and more.

REI also uses a small proportion of semi-synthetic fibers or regenerated cellulosic fabrics such as Tencel lyocell, modal, acetate, and viscose.

Tencel is an eco-friendly fiber made with wood pulp from certified sustainable forests. But only a tiny proportion of the materials used by REI are environmentally friendly and sustainable.

REI publishes a list of all its manufacturers and processing facilities on its corporate website. It aims to provide an inclusive, safe, fair and nondiscriminatory working environment.

The 2022 Fashion Transparency Index gave REI a score of only 17% based on how much the group discloses about its social and environmental policies, practices, and impacts.

REI manufactures its clothes in many East Asian countries, where human rights and labor law violations happen every day.

The American clothing retailer does show some labor certification standard that could ensure good working conditions, decent living wages, health, safety, and other crucial rights for workers in its supply chain.

REI has a code of conduct that applies to all its suppliers and subcontractors based on the regulations set by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

REI assesses compliance with its Code of Conduct by informal visits or third-party audits with or without notice. It works with international and local unions and NGOs to improve the working conditions in its factories.

REI doesn't use exotic animal skin, hair, fur, or angora. But it uses leather, wool, silk, and down feathers to manufacture many of its clothing pieces.

These animal-derived materials are cruel and unethical. They also harm the environment by producing greenhouse gases and waste. More sustainable alternatives exist.

Sustainability Goals

REI has committed to reducing its impact across the entire supply chain. By 2030, its goal is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% from a 2019 baseline while continuing to grow its business.

REI continues to work toward zero waste (defined by industry as diverting 90% of waste from landfill) across its operations. It also seeks out products made using its preferred sustainability attributes.

By 2030, 100% of the products it sells will have a preferred attribute so that every product supports a healthier, cleaner and more equitable planet.

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