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REI Is Officially Carbon Neutral — Here’s What That Means and What It Plans to Do Next

REI is officially carbon neutral. Now, it wants to halve its entire carbon footprint over the next decade.

Today, the co-op announced that it has completed its commitment to become carbon neutral in its operations in 2020 — a goal that was set in 2006 by then-CEO Sally Jewell. In an effort to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions, it achieved green building certifications, generated its own energy through solar arrays and invested more than $100 million into stewarding outdoor spaces through the years.

“The climate crisis is the greatest threat to the future of life outdoors and to REI’s business. The science is clear about what we, as a society, need to do to change that future. The world must halve its greenhouse gasses emissions by 2030, so that’s where REI and the broader outdoor community must lead,” REI co-op president and CEO Eric Artz said in a statement. “Going forward, we’re embedding the impact of doing business — and the cost — into our business model.”

Along with the announcement, REI revealed an ambitious plan to cut by half its carbon footprint by investing in projects like reforestation and active forest management; planting more trees in cities and suburbs; and advocating for nationwide policies that reduce future emissions, like cleaner transportation infrastructure and energy solutions.

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The Kent, Wash.-based retailer’s new climate goals will affect not only its own brands and operations, but also the emissions embedded in products from its more than 1,000 brand partners. It shared that it would work with the labels, which it said were mostly small businesses, to create “shared solutions.”

“No retailer has yet accomplished this, but we know what needs to get done, and most importantly, we believe we can do it,” Artz wrote in a letter accompanying the announcement.

What’s more, the co-op will continue to use recycled and lower impact materials throughout its supply chain, as well as eliminate excess packaging. It said it would “have to reexamine every aspect of its business and will invest in natural climate solutions to offset the carbon it’s not yet able to draw down.”

REI added that it has received certification from Climate Neutral, an independent nonprofit aimed at decreasing global carbon emissions.

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