Mountain Gear Named Sustainable Retailer of the Year

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SNEWS and Backpacker named Mountain Gear the Sustainable Retailer of the Year at the 2012 Winter Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City.

We follow sustainable models at Mountain Gear because it’s the right thing to do. But this award also serves notice that these initiatives are good for business.

SNEWS and Backpacker named Mountain Gear the Sustainable Retailer of the Year at the 2012 Winter Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City.

The award, given annually, honors outdoor retailers who embody the spirit of entrepreneurship and who serve as visionaries for the outdoor market and leaders of the communities they serve. “This award honors exemplary retailers and sets a bar for all other retailers to achieve, with the ultimate goal of establishing a standard for specialty retail excellence nationwide,” SNEWS President Michael Hodgson said.

Paul Fish, president of the Spokane Valley, WA-based outdoor gear retailer said, “This award recognizes the efforts of our entire team to be a sustainable organization and to continually learn and try new ways to reduce our footprint.”

In the case of Mountain Gear, Fish took the challenge of a reduced footprint to an extraordinary length. When the company had outgrown its corporate offices and distribution center near Spokane’s Gonzaga University, Fish took over an abandoned manufacturing facility.

Guided by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design principles, Mountain Gear conducted an extensive renovation to install skylights, windows, energy management systems, and drought-tolerant landscaping. Much of the project used reused and recycled materials. Low-flow plumbing, energy-efficient lighting and filtered water make Mountain Gear an industry leader in promoting a safe and healthy workplace with minimal environmental impact.

The end result is not just a healthier place to work. There are real savings, too. Mountain Gear’s Operations Manager Ben Albrecht points to the rainwater collection system, waterless urinals and jet-assisted toilets as an example. “We estimate our savings at 407,000 gallons per year,” he said.

When the renovation work was done, Mountain Gear garnered immediate praise including a Washington State Governor’s Award for Pollution and Sustainable Practices in 2007 as well as the prestigious LEED Gold certification.

“We follow sustainable models at Mountain Gear because it’s the right thing to do. But this award also serves notice that these initiatives are good for business,” Fish said. “The notion of sustainability is more than the rainwater we reclaim to water our grounds, it’s more than our compost pile and our garden. It extends to the business model, too. If we’re ethical and transparent we earn the trust of our employees, customers, vendors, and communities. That is sustainability.”

Several of Mountain Gear’s sustainability initiatives impact the greater community, too. SNEWS and Backpacker highlighted Mountain Gear’s support of Bike to Work Week. Every year, Mountain Gear sponsors this Spokane-wide, spring time celebration of two-wheeled transportation and alternative commuting in Spokane. For Mountain Gear employees, this commitment to human-powered travel runs deep. Since 2006, Mountain Gear employees have chosen to bike to work 3,874 times. In 2011 alone they bicycle commuted nearly 800 times.

“Our role as a sustainable partner has grown,” Fish said. “We’re an educator, too. People can contact us for a building tour. We’ve hosted speakers on gardening and composting and recycling. People can recycle their used clothing at our retail store here in Spokane. We want to see other businesses doing sustainability. We encourage everybody to get involved.”

Contact:
Steve Durham    
Tel. (509)340-1145
Email sdurham(at)mountaingear(dot)com

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Whitney Mason
Mountain Gear
(509) 340-1144
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