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DEFINING SUSTAINABILITY Leave a comment

Defining Sustainability
For us, nature is everything. We also recognize that nature is not a competition and that we must do everything possible to keep nature in business forever. At Fjällräven sustainability isn’t treated as a separate project, it is at the core of everything we do. Our striving goal is to be as innovative as possible with design, quality and function, while being at the forefront of sustainability. Christiane Dolva, our Global Head of Sustainability, and the team define our practices and how we consider sustainability in all aspects of who we are and what we do.
What does sustainability mean at Fjällräven?
Applying sustainability to the Fjällräven world, means that we want to develop equipment that enables people to spend time in nature, without compromising the ability for future generations to enjoy nature in the same way. It’s a balancing act that cannot be underestimated and, when done right, influences all the parts of the company’s operations – from the drawing board to the end life of the products. All processes are strongly affected by choices made from a sustainable perspective, choices that are better environmentally and socially while considering the well being of the people involved. We also consider the awareness, both of ourselves and our consumers, of what sustainability actually can encompass,” says Christiane. “It is a very broad concept, with several applications from many angles.”
What is considered to ensure sustainability in Fjällräven products?
One of the most important things that Christiane and Fjällräven work towards is to make sure all products last as long as possible. When it comes to design, all of our products are always made with durability and timelessness in mind.
“Everything we do has an undeniable impact. We need to make sure that impact is put to the best possible use.“ Our products are made so that you are not only able to, but want to keep using it for as long as possible. Both in terms of look and design – it should be timeless – and subsequently foster an emotional connection that makes you want to wear and keep that product for the duration of not only your life, but to be able to hand it off to the next generation of nature lovers. Living this philosophy, Christiane wears a jacket passed down to her by her Grandmother. It’s a timeless Fjällräven piece that functions just as well, and looks just as good today, as it did the first day of its life.

Fjällräven products are also designed to be easily repaired and re-waxed. Adding an extra layer of Greenland Wax to your gear adds resistance to both wear and weather and in fact, is something you can do yourself at home.

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How else is sustainable thinking present in Fjällräven’s operations?
The aspect of inspiring people to walk with nature is intrinsically linked to our sustainability efforts as well. For example Fjällräven Classic – a yearly event in eight locations around the world, with the purpose of getting more people to discover life outdoors. What essentially started with the founder of Fjällräven, Åke Nordin, inviting people to experience nature with his new equipment in the 70’s, stayed with us and grew into the first Fjällräven Classic in Sweden in 2005. Since then, the interest for trekking – carrying your own equipment, setting up your own tent, cooking your own food and walking at your own pace, together with people just like you – has spread steadily across the world. And the link to sustainability? As Christiane says, “we know that the more time people spend in nature, the more we care about protecting it and Fjällräven Classic is yet another way for us to try to make a difference.”
In 2019, Fjällräven joined the UN Sustainable Fashion Charter for Climate Change. “By signing the UN Climate Change Charter, we want to contribute to accelerating the fight against climate change, show our commitment and share our knowledge within the industry.” The climate actions needed in the coming years are massive, and we are happy to be able to continue our efforts in this area in collaboration with the entire industry.

Apart from scrutinizing every part of our own processes in search for improvements, we have created the global Arctic Fox Initiative. The Arctic Fox Initiative was originally born out of a decade of supporting research on our namesake, the arctic fox, in cooperation with Stockholm University. We still support the vital field work by funding a new doctorate position to continue research, but it was time to look past our borders. We have now expanded the Arctic Fox Initiative into a global fund, to preserve the environment or encourage people to get out in nature, across the world.

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What role does innovation play in the future of sustainability?

 

When it comes to sustainability, there is a tendency to think it’s all about minimizing and being restrictive towards the use of resources. But the reality is that there is a lot spurred on by the efforts to be more sustainable as a company, as an industry and as a society.
When we first started to look into PFC-free impregnation to use with our Keb Eco-Shell Jackets and Trousers there was not a lot of choice. But we eventually got there, and today all of Fjällräven’s fabrics are treated with PFC-free impregnation. It’s the same story with our woolen products, we now use recycled wool, recovered wool and traceable wool. There is still a long way to go, and much more we can do, but we are moving in the right direction.
An example of the rewards of putting in extra effort was when we launched the Fjällräven Down Promise in 2014. This means that all Fjällräven down is 100% fully traceable and produced with the birds’ well-being as our highest priority, together with high quality standards, as for everything we do. It’s a long, and sometimes undulating process, but we are slowly achieving what we have set out to do. There are many more concrete examples where sustainability goals are pushing forward innovation in materials and production processes at Fjällräven. As Christiane says “Sustainability is definitely not only about minimizing impact, it is also about maximizing the potential for innovation.” Right now we are looking at how to maximize that potential even in our business models. Perhaps we can still twist and turn that to inspire people to live an outdoor life using durable and functional products, but potentially in different ways that are even more sustainable. When it comes to sustainability there will never be a time when we cannot improve. The era of sustainability connected to innovation and business development is here to stay.
For Christiane, she “found home at Fjällräven when combining my love of being out in nature with my love of reducing our impact on nature, people and animals.” And that sums up exactly what we will keep working to do. Because there is never a time when we can stop improving.

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