Recycle Your Old Gear

Most of us probably buy more outdoor gear than we need, and end up with a cupboard full of old unwanted stuff that still has plenty of life left in it. This would be better re-used by others than quietly mouldering, but it's not always that easy to find people in need; and if it's a hassle then we probably won't do it. Two new (or rather, new-from-old) initiatives have been set up to address the recycling issue.

Recycle Your Outdoor Gear on ROG #1, 69 kb
Recycle Your Outdoor Gear on ROG #1
© Sarah Howcroft, Nov 2011

Recycle Outdoor Gear (ROG) is the UK's first free online service dedicated to finding homes for old unwanted items of clothing and equipment, and is endorsed by the Outdoor Industries Association.

'Most preloved gently used outdoor clothing and equipment has reuse or second life potential if only you could get the word out. Now you can' says ROG's founder Sarah Howcroft.

ROG allows you to post a free ad to sell or swap your outdoor clothing and equipment, or donate it to charity.

'Having successfully emptied your cupboards, loft and garage of used and unwanted outdoor clothing & equipment you could post your own free wanted ad' says Sarah. 'If you are trying to find used outdoor clothing and equipment for a school, youth group etc please ensure you make that clear when you post your ad and we'll do what we can to help.'

ROG wants to help increase awareness and understanding of the recycling initiatives offered by charities that can give old outdoor kit a second life.

'Don't forget to read the ROG Blog or add your own story. Why you recycled your outdoor clothing & equipment, how you did it, who took it and what you reused or donated. ROG invites companies and charities working in the area of recycling and reuse of used outdoor clothing and equipment to tell their stories on the ROG Blog.'


Another recent initiative is RED, which stands for Re-use, Explore, Discover.

This seeks to promote the re-use of outdoor clothing, footwear and equipment after it has been used by the original owner.

'RED is a fabric sustainability programme that will examine the comfort and performance of a variety of outdoor products over an eighteen month period' says their website. 'The aim of RED is to assess what practical, functional life a piece of outdoor gear can offer a 'new owner' after the product has had its primary life cycle.'

The first goal of RED is to carry out an extensive research programme in collaboration with the University of Leeds, the country's leading test house for outdoor apparel, footwear and equipment. This will seek to establish what comfort and performance is retained by outdoor clothing or equipment after it has been used and discarded by its original owner, with gear being used and assessed by a team of testers over an 18-month trial period. Lab tests will be conducted on fabric breatheability, wear and water repellancy.

'Rather than thinking about replacing gear, think about replacing the owner of the gear' says Tom Richardson, one of RED's testers. 'When you have finished with any item, offer it to someone else either directly or via a suitable organisation. What to you or me may be worn out might not be to a porter on Kilimanjaro, a Sherpa in Nepal or even someone else in the UK.'

'In this way we might improve the quality and durability of outdoor gear, increase its availability, reduce landfill, pollution and much else...just a bit.'

RED's brand partners include Rab, Patagonia, Scarpa, Marmot, Teko, Vaude and Paramo.

Old gear lives on in the Rwenzori
© Dan Bailey

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