It’s Feel Good Friday and this week’s Do-Gooder Company, REI, is all about nature conservation, the environment and outdoor education. With stores in 33 states, REI is currently one of the nation’s largest purveyors of outdoor sports and activity equipment. But they are so much more than that too. They offer learning opportunities through classes at the REI Outdoor School and online through their blog and expert advice series. Through REI Adventures, you and your family can embark on a guided trip that connects you to the outdoors in some of the world’s most awesome natural environments. You can also download a Kid’s Adventure Journal from their website as a way to help your kids connect with and enjoy outdoor activities.
I know, I know. Their product and program offerings are very cool and hip, but this does not make theme a Do-Gooder Company. Well, folks, hold onto your hats because their Do-Gooder initiatives are just as exciting. Built into REI’s corporate values is a commitment to connect people to the outdoors and protect nature through active conservation projects. REI uses a multi-prong approach to address this social need: 1. Volunteerism 2. Grants and Giving and 3. Sustainable Operations.
- Volunteerism: REI both hosts and promotes volunteer opportunities for employees and the public at large. In 2012, REI stores promoted more than 750 outdoor volunteer projects in which more than 87,000 people participated. Moreover, programs supported through REI grants engaged nearly 397,000 people in 2.8 million hours of volunteer work on public lands.
- Grants and Giving: Aiming to help conserve natural spaces in order to enhance opportunities for outdoor recreation, REI dedicates 3% of the previous year’s operating profit to it’s annual giving budget. In 2012, this meant that REI awarded $3.9 million to over 260 nonprofit organizations. In addition to grants, REI empowers stores to engage with local nonprofits by raising awareness of the organizations among REI customers, providing gear loans and product donations.
- Sustainable Operations: REI has adopted a targeted approach to reducing their environmental impact. For instance, with regard to Greenhouse Gas Emissions, REI aspires to become climate neutral in operations by 2020. Some of the ways they are working toward this include utilizing solar technology in stores and incentiving the use of public transit by offering a 50% transit subsidy to employees. Want more details on REI’s other plans in support of Sustainable Operations? Read about them here.
My Bottom Line: REI offers products and programs that encourage individuals to enjoy the outdoors. At the same time they incorporate socially responsible business, encouraging volunteerism among employees and customers, supports local non-profit efforts to conserve open, natural spaces and is conscious of their impact on the environment as a whole. Though they don’t claim it, I feel comfortable saying that engagement with the outdoors leads to a healthier lifestyle and ultimately a healthier planet. In this age of technology, there are many who prefer “screen time” over outdoor activity and REI (and their partners) are working to combat this status quo. So, in support of their mission, STOP READING MY BLOG, TURN OFF THE COMPUTER AND HEAD OUTSIDE! Get your family together and go for a hike, a walk, a bike ride. Climb a rock wall or kayak across a lake. Engage with nature – you won’t regret it!
Oh, and, when I said “stop reading my blog,” I didn’t mean forever. Please stop back soon to check out my newest post, but take some time to enjoy the outdoors between visits!