REI Releases 2009 Stewardship Report

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Recreational Equipment, Inc (REI) released its fourth annual stewardship report or CSR report earlier this week. The report is divided into three sections: Environment, Community and People.

The Environment section highlights progress against REI’s five environmental target areas, which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable paper usage, reducing waste and optimizing recycling, green building and product stewardship.

It’s interesting to read that 31% of REI’s 2009 greenhouse gas emissions came from REI Adventures, the company’s adventure travel program. Typically, retailers see the most GHG emissions from in-store electricity use, which was 28% for REI.

The Community section “highlights REI’s efforts to protect natural spaces by mobilizing volunteers through local programs, grants and nonprofit partnerships”. I am a big fan of connecting more people with nature while keeping their environmental footprint to a minimum.

The People section highlights the company’s work to create a welcoming and diverse workplace that values its employees and to ensure that its products are manufactured and sourced ethically under safe and fair working conditions.

Companies have gone back and forth whether to include diversity and employee benefits as part of their CSR reports. Treating your employees well should be a given, should it not? This topic is still up for debate.

I believe the biggest challenge and greatest area of opportunity for retailers is supply chain transparency. It’s encouraging to see REI tackle this head on. The company joined the Fair Factories Clearinghouse (FFC) and completed an independent audit review of their fair labor compliance program last year.

According to the 2009 audit results, 60% of the factory violations stemmed from workplace health and safety and fair wage issues. I applaud REI for publishing its audit results. It’s intimidating to put yourself out there, but you can’t fix a problem until you acknowledge it.

Check out REI’s 2009 Stewardship Report and tell me what you think.

Follow Cindy on Twitter @ethicalbiz
Photo credit: Recreational Equipment, Inc.

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