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Climate Proofing Recreational Gear

Keeping goods out of landfills

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Editors note: The Source team imagines what outdoor communities can do—and are doing—to make them more responsive to climate change

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 146 million tons of waste material were placed into landfills in 2018. Of that 146 million tons, nearly half of it consisted of waste like vinyl, plastic and other materials commonly found in outdoor gear.

"Decisions about how goods (such as food, plastic packaging, and building materials) are produced, transported, used, and disposed can make a big difference in the amount of the resources used, greenhouse gases emitted, environmental impacts created, and waste produced," the EPA notes on its website.

Nico Brilmyer works the repair station at Gear Fix in Bend. - TREVOR BRADFORD
  • Trevor Bradford
  • Nico Brilmyer works the repair station at Gear Fix in Bend.

To help alleviate landfill waste, shops in Bend and other locations are bringing the reduce, reuse and recycle motto straight to outdoor enthusiasts.

Landfill materials like metals, plastics and rubber are used frequently in typical recreational activity products. From bikes and skis to clothing and kayaks, multiple businesses are doing their part when it comes to slowing the amount going to landfills.

Companies spanning from Patagonia to The North Face have adopted more recyclable and sustainable business models. As more people start recycling and reusing old items, companies are going to have to expand into a greener more conscious mindset that matches their consumer bases.

One of many local businesses dedicated to this type of business model is The Gear Fix. The folks there have been working toward keeping the landfills clear since their opening in 2006. The ability to repair equipment ranging from tents to bikes is a key effort in saving landfill space.

"We are constantly looking forways to decrease our environmental footprint," said Matt Deacon, general manager of the shop. "It's really important to be a positive part in the community."

Brady Sherwood repairs a set of skis at Gear Fix. - TREVOR BRADFORD
  • Trevor Bradford
  • Brady Sherwood repairs a set of skis at Gear Fix.

This shop has a large area for mending different aspects of outdoor activities. Tents are among the hardest things to repair, Deacon said, because the smells and stains are incredibly hard to get rid of. Backpack zippers and ski equipment are equally hard to fix, he said, because they aren't made to be repaired. Other product repairs done out of the shop include resoling climbing shoes and other climbing equipment, free wax clinics to learn how to re-wax your skis or snowboards, and bicycle repairs. Some of the more frequent repairs seen are clothing related and snow shoe bindings.

Repairing, reusing and recycling puts a hold on the wasting of recreational products that has been rising since 1960. With stores like Gear Fix, REI and more in the Bend area adapting into environmentally friendly practices, the war on product wastefulness is being tackled by Bend's outdoor community.

About The Author

Trevor Bradford

Trevor considers himself the forever traveling man. Coming from a military family and with no true place to call “home,” Bend, for now, is where his dad hats hang. When he isn’t traveling you can catch him enjoying fresh air, living his best life and thinking about traveling. He graduated from Boise State University...

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