We hate greenwashing.
There, we said it. So much over-claiming, and so much self-congratulating. So many carbon credits, so many trees. Is it really that easy? At the end of the day, our industry builds products primarily for recreation rather than necessity, which should give us all extra motivation to limit our impacts. For us that means driving progress ourselves, and also encouraging the other brands we care about to make real progress towards sustainability.
Where do we fit? As a small brand it can be hard to influence an entire supply chain, or more, so we've been fast followers on environmental issues. But with progress we’ve been moving closer to the front of the pack, and we plan to start taking some pulls. Watch this space for more news in the coming seasons!
Who’s leading today? If environmental impact is your biggest concern, look to Patagonia. They balance commercial goals with environmental & social impacts, and give back tremendously. They don’t always get it right in our opinion (we weren’t fans of “Don’t Buy This Jacket”) but that happens when you’re taking risks at the front. The plan can’t be to only move forward without taking chances, and Patagonia leads by example while also building a strong, growing business.
At 7mesh, these are our current areas of focus:
Build to Last
Reduce, reuse, recycle - in that order. One of our strengths is we design for longevity, working to reduce the weakest area or potential failure points in each of our products. We also design for repairability, choosing construction that eases the difficulty and cost of repairs. 7mesh provides a lifetime warranty against defects, and repairs garments at our headquarters in Squamish, as well as through qualified gear repair locations in Europe, the UK & the US.
A great way to reduce impact, though too often presented as being enough on its own. Currently (2023) 41% of our styles have significant recycled content, and our goal is to achieve 95% by fall of 2025. Post-consumer recycled content makes a bigger difference than post-industrial, and will need to grow in availability as part of progress towards true circularity. It is important to note that recycled content does not mean recyclable apparel. Most apparel cannot be recycled with current technologies, but this is an area of active research and 7mesh is contributing to projects working in this direction.
Packaging & Transport
We are close to achieving our goal of all product packaging being made from materials that are both recycled, and recyclable.In addition we have reduced our use of single-use plastics by batching accessory shipments moving between our locations.
We’re also actively reducing impact from our shipping packaging, with our next goal being to eliminate all non-recycled and non-recyclable materials from all product and shipping packaging by 2025. With transport we are also reducing the amount of air shipments we use relative to ground & sea.
Technical apparel may be one of the first industrial applications where significant reduction or elimination of thousands of ‘forever chemicals’ will come to pass. These PFAS chemicals (per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, a subset of the larger category called PFCs) are everywhere in commercial products - e.g. cosmetics, cookware, electronics, apparel, toilet paper, and food packaging. Though often touted as inert in final products, PFAS chemicals are also used during the manufacturing of many goods, and have accumulated in the ocean after extensive illegal dumping from about 1950 through 2000.
With lifespans of hundreds or thousands of years, and some having been banned due to toxicity, the push is on to replace this entire family of chemicals. However these substances are valued for their water and oil resistance, and not easily replaced without compromising performance. If you’ve been in the game for a while and feel like the DWR treatments on your technical apparel don’t work as well as they used to - you’re right. Collectively we’ve stepped back in performance, in order to step forward on the environment. Of course we want the best of both worlds, and extensive research continues in this area.
7mesh does not use any banned chemicals. We have audited all of our raw materials for PFC & PFAS content, and our target is for our full product range to be both PFC and PFAS-free in 2025.
*Some categories of PFCs believed to be toxic have previously been banned. PFOS substances were banned in 2009, and though PFOA was not banned until 2019, it was voluntarily eliminated from Gore-Tex in 2014, prior to our brand debut.