Rock Creek Outfitters announced today that it has awarded footwear manufacturer, Chaco,of Paonia, Colorado its first annual Environmental Stewardship Award. Chaco’s dedication to environmental issues and improving access to outdoor recreation areas prompted Rock Creek to start the annual award. “These issues have always been at the heart of Rock Creek,” explained Rock Creek co-owner, Marvin Webb. “Chaco has really stepped up to the plate over the years, helping us fund larger projects so we have an even stronger impact within our region. They have not only supported us in our own programs, but they have also actively come to us with new ideas for local and global initiatives.”
The retailer hopes the award will encourage other companies to maintain the same high standards of sustainability and environmental stewardship. “Companies like Patagonia, Prana, and Chaco have set the bar high within our industry, which is great,” said Webb’s partner, Dawson Wheeler. “We hope other manufacturers and retailers will follow their lead.”
Among Chaco’s success stories is the Chaco Recycled Shoe Program. The company teamed up with Rock Creek and other retail partners to encourage customers to donate their old shoes. In exchange, the customers were rewarded with a discount on their new pair of Chacos. The collected shoes were distributed through charitable organizations to international communities in need. Chaco launched the recycle program in 2004, and with the help of retailers like Rock Creek, has managed to divert over 4,000 lightly worn pairs of shoes from landfills to those who need them.
Rock Creek and Chaco also partnered with the Triple Crown Bouldering Series last year in raising over $8000 to finalize the purchase of Boat Rock, a woodland climbing area inside the metro of Atlanta. A similar effort in 2005 raised $4000 to help purchase Laurel Knob, the tallest granite dome east of the Mississippi, located in Cashier’s Valley, NC. Once threatened by development, these areas are now green spaces that are open to all outdoor enthusiasts including hikers, trail runners, and rock climbers. “We believe that people who have access to the outdoors will naturally become conservationists and will work to preserve the areas where they recreate,” said Wheeler.
Chaco has sponsored other Rock Creek initiatives to raise money for organizations like the Lula Lake Land Trust, whose goal is to create a network of conservation properties that will ensure protection and enhancement of local water quality, and the Cumberland Trail Conference, a non-profit that is working to construct a 300-mile corridor of protected hiking trails spanning from Kentucky to Georgia. Their efforts have also supported the Southeast Climbers Coalition, which works to preserve climbing areas and ensure access for future generations.
Chaco’s forward thinking philosophy fuels a multitude of initiatives, and it also drives many of the company’s own operations. The footwear manufacturer has adopted a policy of paying employees to ride their bikes to work and volunteer their time. Chaco also donates three percent of after-tax profits to organizations dedicated to caring for people and the planet. In addition, this year Chaco purchased 400-megawatt hours of wind powered Green Certificates to match 100 percent of its yearly electrical usage. By doing so, the company reduced carbon dioxide emissions–the primary cause of global climate change–by more than 572,000 pounds.
Rock Creek congratulates Chaco for setting high standards of environmental stewardship within the outdoor industry. “As the need to preserve the environment becomes clearer, we hope to see more companies raising the bar and proactively educating their consumers,” said Webb. “Part of our mission at Rock Creek is to teach our customers about Leave No Trace practices in the backcountry. Really, Leave No Trace should apply to the way we all live and work day to day, and to the way companies in our industry do business.”
For more information on Rock Creek’s environmental initiatives, see their environmental statement.
About Rock Creek Outfitters:
Rock Creek Outfitters is a specialty outdoor retailer with over two decades of experience in the Southeast. Along with its online shops, RockCreek.com and ClimbingGear.com, Rock Creek Outfitters provides quality outdoor clothing and gear for a host of activities including kayaking, rock climbing, camping, hiking, trail running, and adventure racing. Rock Creek is committed to making a positive impact on the environment. For this reason, it uses outdoor retail as a platform to encourage outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship and to improve access to the backcountry.
While many businesses focus solely on profits, Chaco seeks to follow the three steppingstones to sustainability: profits, people and the planet. They strive to minimize their environmental impact, better the lives of the people with whom they work and maintain healthy profitability so they can keep their initiatives moving forward. To further support their sustainability initiatives, Chaco donates three percent of after-tax profits to organizations dedicated to caring for people and the planet. They currently support the Conservation Alliance, the Sierra Club, American Whitewater, Leave No Trace, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and many others.
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