REI urges environmental action instead of shopping on Black Friday

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) is promoting environmental action instead of the tradition of shopping on Black Friday for its employees and members.

The outdoor retail company is asking its 13,000 employees and 18 million members to “opt to act” by assisting in cleaning up outdoor areas on Black Friday and signing up for a 52-week action plan designed to reduce their individual environmental footprints, according to a release from the company. 

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“Today, that future is at risk,” REI CEO Eric Artz wrote in a letter this week. “We are in the throes of an environmental crisis that threatens not only the next 81 years of the co-op, but the incredible outdoor places that we love.”

The press release states that employees have already collected more than 3.4 tons of garbage while cleaning up outdoor areas across the U.S. 

REI has closed all stores, halted online payments and paid its employees to #OptOutside on Black Friday since 2015, which the release says has “grown into a movement.”

Artz stated in his letter that their initial movement was “not good enough.”

“As a single company, our impact is limited, but as a community, we can drive change that powers meaningful action beyond our walls,” Artz wrote. “As a co-op, we know that many people taking many small steps together can add up to big changes. Collective intention will drive collective impact.”

REI is also pledging to reduce waste and stop using unnecessary packaging for their products, starting with poly bags used to protect products. The outdoor retailer says it is also making efforts to increase its rental and used gears and meet zero-waste goals. The company acknowledges it won’t meet its 2020 zero-waste goal in every store due to changing recycling markets and different infrastructure from city to city.

“But a single company can only do so much,” the press release states. “That’s why the co-op is also inviting its 18 million members, more than 13,000 employees, and the broader retail industry to take up the fight.”