The Outdoor Retailer trade show is awash in people toting well-loved and well-used water bottles and coffee tumblers, dented and stickered. But it’s also awash in stuff. Swag bags, food samples, takeout lunch trucks, and plenty of coffee and beverage stations. Brand-sponsored breakfasts offered on disposable plates, picked at with disposable utensils. It’s not uncommon, actually, it’s quite common, to see panelists at the various presentations during OR taking sips from plastic, single-use water bottles stashed beneath their chairs.
For an industry that spends a lot of time discussing pollution and climate change issues, with many brands touting themselves as leaders in sustainability, the sheer amount of trash generated at OR is staggering, and, staggeringly hypocritical when taken as a whole.
Kristin Hostetter, the editor of SNEWS, was bothered by the tremendous waste of resources she’s seen at OR in recent years and has started a lovely and simple initiative—The Plastic Impact Promise. Attendees at OR are invited to sign onto a pledge to avoid single-use plastics at this summer’s OR.
“I started to feel guilty—for all of us—about the amount of disposable single-use products littering the show floor,” she wrote. “We have to do better. And in our daily lives, most of us do. But when we travel for work, it’s often easier to just grab what’s available, whether it’s a bottle of Fuji water or a 16-ounce latte at Starbucks in a paper cup.”
Now, at least 100 brands, including Adventure Journal, have signed onto the idea by joining the Plastic Impact Alliance.
These brands have committed to rejecting single-use plastics at OR, will host water stations at their booths, and if they participate in any free beverage services, they’ll provide reusable bottles to participants.
“Because shouldn’t Outdoor Retailer be the first plastic-free, zero waste trade show in the U.S.?” asked Hostetter. “We think it should. Let’s do it together one bottle at a time.”