REI Cuts Carbon Emissions While Our Business Grows

Sep 22, 2010 5:40 PM ET

REI Blog

Last year was a good one for REI. 

We reduced our greenhouse gas (GHG) impact in 2009 by over 10% even though the co-op grew. In fact, since 2006 our climate impact has gone down by over 22% while our sales have gone up by 23%. That’s a pretty good headline.    Of course the details are more complicated, so we report our GHG emission in REI’s annual stewardship report (which is audited by Climate Counts). Conventional wisdom says that if we grow, we’ll increase our negative impacts, but there’s a lot about REI that is unconventional. We believe that responsible growth helps us serve members and increases our ability to deliver on the co-op’s mission.    From 2006 to 2009 we increased sales by about $230 million. We went from 81 stores to 110 and we increased REI membership to nearly 4 million. We also added a second distribution center which was a big part of our buildings' square footage increasing by 40%. Normally all these indicators of growth would mean that we increase our GHG footprint. But in many areas we did just the opposite.    In our online report, we dive into the details and show our successes and challenges in each part of our GHG emissions pie chart. For example, the GHG emission from product transportation has increased by just 2.7% even though we are moving 23% more stuff. We’ve learned a lot and now have a plan to continue growing in 2011 without increasing our GHG emissions at all.    It’s a pretty aggressive goal, but we’re trying. We’d appreciate your help in taking a look at the details and offering comments and feedback on how we can make a difference out there.    - Kevin Hagen, REI director of corporate social responsibility

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