REI Shows Sales Can Grow Without Equal Increases in Carbon Emissions

One of the goals for corporations in addressing climate change is to de-couple growth from increases in carbon emissions.

In its fifth Sustainability Report, corporate responsibility leader REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) says carbon emissions grew by about half the pace of sales in 2010.

REI, a national outdoor gear and apparel retailer, reported sales grew 14% in 2010, but its net carbon impact was 7.3% after purchasing offsets.  

Despite adding four new stores and relocating two retail locations to larger spaces, REI’s energy consumption dropped 2.4%. 

The most significant contributors to REI’s carbon emissions are transporation: shipping products, employee commuting and corporate travel. All of these are a result of the company growth, financial success and recovery from the difficult economy, says the company.

Other sustainability efforts include purchasing 58.4% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper fiber, and recycling 74% of total operational waste, including more than 95% at REI’s two distribution centers.

The company’s stewardship report outlines efforts across its headquarters, 114 stores and two distribution centers. In addition to sustainable operations, the report also covers community and workplace topics.

Community efforts included 109,785 volunteer hours committed through 541 REI-hosted conservation projects to plant trees, restore trails, and clean parks and streams. The company also funded $3.7 million in grants to 330 nonprofit partners with a focus on conservation and outdoor recreation.

REI has been on Fortune magazine’s "100 Best Companies to Work for" list for 14 consecutive years. The company has a 79% employee retention rate.

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