It seems like everyone from detergent manufacturers to car companies has been trying to market their products through the “green” lens lately, promising a new way forward for planet Earth and our environment. And while green is great, clearly, some businesses are doing more than others. When a brand slaps an “eco” label on a product and markets it as such without truly committing to real change from within, it isn’t the answer to the “environmental crisis”, it’s just opportunism. However, there are companies out there committed to responsible progress, centered on improving in-house business practices and the materials they use to lessen their environmental footprint, and allowing those changes to radiate outwards to the products consumed by the public.
Reef is not just launching another “green” line without at least attempting to endorse substantive change.
During their open house / product launch on June 28, 2007, in Reef’s new building, it seemed like Reef had taken strides to become one of the latter. Their new line of footwear and apparel, dubbed the Reef Redemption Product Series, was on display for the first time at the event, and at first pass, could be mistaken for just another green knockoff attractively marketed for the newly environmentally conscious masses. But the Redemption Series, according to Mike Gass, the director of the Reef Redemption Program, represents more than just a new clothing line. He says, “It’s a new companywide humanitarian and environmental initiative. Being environmentally conscious translates into more than just using what we believe to be better product materials—we’re striving to be stewards of the environment and humanity.”
Reef intends to do this by following a three-step initiative that, yes, starts quite publicly, with its new product line, containing organic and recycled materials, hemp, chrome-free leather, water-based cements, and other “eco friendly” products wherever possible. The second step, according to Gass, is what Reef is calling their “Culture of Giving,” which means the brand will contribute one percent of the product series’ sales to environmental and humanitarian causes around the globe. And the third step ties into the open-house portion of the evening, during which Reef had a chance to show off their new headquarters.
The footwear giant recently moved into a new corporate building in Carlsbad, and in the process of taking over the premises, took great pains to include several environmentally sensitive features in the structure. The carpeting is recycled, reclaimed wood is present in much of the flooring, furniture, and fixtures, and the building is set up to take advantage of natural light in order to lessen energy consumption. Reef has also initiated a companywide recycling program amongst its employees.
Unlike some opportunists, Reef is not just launching another “green” line without at least attempting to endorse substantive change. And though it’s certainly not the first — even within the surf industry — to do so, Reef is taking strides towards, what they say is, an ongoing effort of environmentally responsible manufacturing.
Now, for skeptics, this may seem like a great marketing ploy. And, let’s be honest — it is. But the fact that it’s backed by an outward donation effort — Reef has a long history of such things, as one of SurfAid’s largest backers — and in-house changes to both their headquarters and work practices, suggests that Reef has taken a page from companies like Patagonia, and decided, to one degree or another to “walk the walk” and not just use “green” as another method of making cash.