The outdoor industry has continued to increase the stakes around accountability over the past few years, engaging consumers with storytelling initiatives and innovating supply chains to create climate-beneficial products. But how do these efforts ladder up to the overall health of our planet? One Swedish outdoor retailer is testing a new approach to gain a better understanding of the effect its operations have on the environment and how to align its sustainability missions accordingly.
Houdini Sportswear has launched a pioneering Planetary Boundaries Assessment report – a holistic environmental evaluation based on research from the Stockholm Resilience Centre. The assessment examines nine boundaries the company should remain within to avoid unacceptable global environmental change, garnering a deeper understanding of how the company's design process impacts the world and how operations can be improved. As a brand that views sustainability as table stakes, Houdini’s mission is not just to minimize harm, but to have a positive impact on the planet. Jesper Danielsson, head of design at Houdini, explains the goal of the assessment saying, “We aim to know the ‘butterfly effect’ of everything we do, both positive and negative, so we can build a new model of production, innovation, sales, customer experience and resource management that inspires the rest of the industry to follow suit.” The report serves as more than a materiality assessment. Houdini hopes to learn how it can reduce the impact of its clothing post-sale by engaging consumers to buy recycled gear, rent items and repair worn clothing – all services the outdoor retailer already provides in its stores. To benchmark its progress, the brand will work with consumers and suppliers to replicate the assessment every three years, building on the previous findings and outstanding inquiries.
The creation of the Planetary Boundaries Assessment report proves that brands are testing their limits and capabilities when it comes to accountability and understanding of their own operations. These new efforts to increase accountability can inspire not just outdoor retailers, but other industries as well to proactively think about sustainability solutions in a new framework.