4 Reasons REI Wants Your Company to Attend a Sustainability Boot Camp

The industry’s biggest retailer is also one of its biggest sustainability champions, and it’s encouraging all brands and other retailers to come together to create change.

October 3, 2019

The last Sustainability Boot Camp of 2019 is coming up in December in Southern California, and REI’s top sustainability expert is encouraging small and midsize industry companies not to miss it. “It’s clear we face some pretty stark challenges, both at the community level and eco-system levels as a society,” says REI’s Director of Sustainability, Matt Thurston. “One of the things I find really heartening is that the best brands really provide clarion calls — they’re taking bold action and demanding the same from their peers — around an idea and the best products really solve a problem. That’s made clear in the OIA’s State of Sustainability Report, which uncovers how much the industry is leaning into sustainable business.”


For Thurston, the report helped level-set and create a shared sense of purpose among industry brands and retailers. But it also revealed that small- and medium-sized outdoor brands need support to develop and execute ambitious goals and to bring their problem-solving innovations to consumers hungry for more responsible products. That was part of the motivation for OIA to create the Sustainability Boot Camps and why REI believes that all industry companies can benefit from the camps’ resources. We asked Thurston for his four top reasons companies should attend the Sustainability Boot Camp.

Matt Thurston of REI

Here are four reasons Thurston is encouraging companies to attend the Sustainability Boot Camp.

  • Sustainability Is Not a Solo Mission
    If you’re part of a brand with limited or no dedicated sustainability experts, the prospect of creating or expanding a sustainability plan is daunting. In two days at the boot camp, you’ll meet peers from other companies who are facing the same challenges and opportunities as you. “Tap into the network, build community; don’t go it alone. You’ll need to collaborate.”
  • Two-Day Investment = Decades of Knowledge
    “Attending a boot camp and joining the Sustainability Working Group embeds you in one of the most genuine and expert communities in the entire outdoor industry. It’s also one of the cheapest and best sources of consulting you’re ever going to find because it’s a group of practitioners who are wrestling with the same problems you’re wrestling with, and they’re willing to bring you into their world and share what they’ve learned in their process.”
  • Go Beyond Product Sustainability Standards
    “It doesn’t stop there; you need a long-term strategy for corporate sustainability to have staying power in your organization.” The Boot Camps are designed to help individuals develop a business case for embedding sustainability into the fabric of their organization. Attendees leave with tools and resources that help them present strategic plans to executive leadership as well as executable roadmaps for making permanent organizational change.
  • Together We Are A Force
    The State of Sustainability report as well as recent OIA member surveys have made it clear that our industry believes that creating more responsible supply chains and improving our collective business practices is crucial to our industry’s vitality over the long term. “It’s clear that sustainability is a shared goal and priority for individual companies and for the industry, so attending a Boot Camp and continuing your sustainability journey in the company of your peers is the only way we will achieve broad scale system change.”