We take this very seriously, we strive to do our best. That’s the short and honest answer, when it comes to the complex and complicated matter of environment and sustainability. We demand the same of our friends, our employees, our partners, our factories and our suppliers — and we expect no less from you.
But to ‘do one’s best’ is a subjective measure to say the least. Some people separate their garbage and buy an organic banana once in a while. Others go full vegan, set up a self-contained minimalistic living space, and stop traveling. It’s a broad scale. So, what exactly does it mean when we say that we do our best?
One of our fundamental principles is that we should all buy less, but buy better. That’s why we don’t do collections; instead we try to create great individual products with timeless design from leading materials. Two of our best-selling products — the Stellar Shell Jacket and the Ultralight Down Jacket — have looked exactly the same since 2015. Few companies can claim the same, and the effect on sustainability of this cannot be understated. Think about it: we can continuously evolve our main product items and sell them over a longer period of time without sending surplus inventory to sale outlets just because we have a “new” version coming every three to six months. Because we’re not stuck in a retail system that demands this, our customers can keep and use our products for a longer time without feeling pressure to replace them prematurely.
The textile industry is unique in the amount of waste it generates, and a big reason for this is the wear-and-tear mentality that even so-called environmentally ethical companies promote by continuously pushing new collections and sub-segments. Think about this when your favorite “sustainable” outdoor company advertises their next huge spring-sale. You don’t need a different shell jacket for every outdoor activity you practice, so we’re not going to make them.
We only work with the very best suppliers and factories in the world. Partly because that’s how we want to work, but also because we can afford to. We don’t have importers and stores demanding higher margins and pushing prices down, so we don’t have to constantly seek cheaper production.
Our suppliers — based in Japan and the USA — are driven by innovation, with amazing technical know-how, and a business mindset. This means they’re also at the forefront when it comes to commercially viable sustainability, simply because they have long since identified that this is the future of the outdoor industry, and thus, the future of their business. They have also identified our direct-sales model as the future, so we have great support from all of them for constantly testing new, more environmentally sound materials. Our factories are clean, and the staff are treated well and paid fairly. We know exactly where and how all products are made and we visit our producers and factories on a regular basis.
Our business model cuts out the middlemen, selling directly to you. This means we can sell our products at a fair price, but it also has a positive environmental side effect. When you buy a technical outdoor garment from another brand, the typical distribution chain sees it shipped by boat from the factory in Asia, to a central warehouse in, for instance, Europe. In many cases it is then re-packed and sent by truck to another warehouse in your country. Here, it’s re-packed once again and distributed by hundreds of trucks to hundreds of retail shops around the country you live in. From there it’s bagged or wrapped in various new packaging and transported to your home — hopefully on that e-bike you got yourself for Christmas, but more likely by car.
We ship from our factories to our warehouse, and then directly to your home — cutting out not only expensive middlemen, but also a lot of unnecessary packaging and transport. We still use ships and trucks and planes, but by selling directly to you we estimate we limit product transport by up to two thirds. And we offset the carbon costs for all shipping — including to your home. We have not heard of any other outdoor company doing that.
And there’s more: Consider all the travel required to maintain a traditional retail company — extensive sales organizations in every country with sales representatives constantly on the road, visiting every single shop several times a year with samples and marketing material. Think about all the retail shows that need to be attended annually, the pre-sale print material, catalogues, brochures, posters, fold-ups, beach flags, banners… It’s an enormous consumptive machine whose environmental footprint is nearly incalculable. We don’t need any of that, we just sell great outdoor products directly to you. We still have a footprint, of course, but it’s considerably less than any of those large outdoor companies that market themselves as sustainable.
Yet even though we’re among the very best in the industry, we will never market ourselves as a sustainable brand, for two reasons: 1) We sell stuff, and consumption will never be completely climate neutral; 2) Sustainability should not be a sales argument — it should be a minimum standard.
In the end, by choosing Stellar Equipment, you actually make a contribution to a somewhat better and more sustainable world — not because we are perfect, but because we do our best.