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We have been sustainable for a long time; And eco-design is one of our hiking beliefs...
When you love the mountains, you also care about the planet! And you are interested in all the ways to limit your impact on the environment.
One of these ways, at Quechua, is the eco-design of products.
What is eco-design? How is it different to classic design? Well, eco-designing a product means caring about its environmental impact at all stages of its design.
Choosing recycled or biosourced components, manufacturing techniques that use as little energy as possible, avoiding waste at all stages in development, creating products with a long life cycle to enable you to make sustainable choices. Those are all the questions associated with this idea.
Questions we all know well, at Quechua, as eco-design is a subject on which we have been working for a long time. It all started with our fleeces...
Ah fleece: an essential for hiking in the mountains! Invented in 1979, it is ideal to protect from the cold without sweating, and optimising what is known as "thermal comfort". That's the plus side of the material that is so convenient.
However, this essential for walking in the cold weather also has a weakness from an environmental point of view: its main component is plastic. More precisely, Polyethylene terephthalate, a polyester with an unpronounceable name that we know under its acronym: PET.
Basically, doing without hiking clothing that does not contain plastic would mean doing without fleece and going back to... itchy wool!Yeah. You won't be so warm anymore. Luckily, different approach of fleece is possible to reduce our impact on the environment and we can reconcile fleece with our values.
It is a product with the lowest possible environmental impact during its manufacturing process. This key product, fleece, exemplifies what we are trying to do. So since we cannot ban polyester, we can do without new polyester. And make great fleece jackets with recycled polyester. An eco-design approach that enables the introduction of plastic waste into the manufacturing of sustainable textiles rather than in nature.
At Quechua, we have been recycling so that "fleece" rhymes with "circular economy" for over ten years now (so a long chapter in the story that began in 1997).
In 2010, we changed our production to make fleece using plastic bottles and recycled textiles. "Second hand" PET, to avoid making new plastic. In 2014, we worked out that re-use of bottles enabled us to recycle 2000 tonnes of waste in one year.
That doesn't mean you can abandon your water bottles on the footpath and we will make your new jacket! Clean hiking is our creed ! That simply means that a Quechua fleece lengthens the life cycle of plastic components generated by other products, rather than producing more. And when you are careful about your impact on the environment, we think that it will allow you to hike lighter...
Anyway, why are we still speaking about "water" bottles: we all use flasks now, no? At Quechua, now, we help you even switch to an even greener flask, thanks to stainless steel. Stainless flasks and food boxes is one of the concepts we have also been working on these past few tears, in the Quechua worldwide Design centre. Why does stainless change everything? Because it is one of the raw materials that has the lowers environmental impact. Infinitely recyclable, it doesn't change over time and releases no component that can pollute the environment. Basically, we have a steely belief in stainless!
Our recent work on stainless steel has enabled us to make another step towards one of our greatest targets: become a brand whose products are all eco-designed. We are getting there! In 2021, Quechua already boasts 159 eco-designed products.
In addition to recycled plastic in our fleeces and stainless flasks and food boxes, for a long time we have used:
- organic cotton in our socks and our children's products
- recycled polyester in our t-shirts and leggings
- rubber from recycled tyres in the soles of our walking shoes...
We are increasingly interested in biosourced materials, sometimes particularly innovative, like the Rilsan Clear G850 Rnew: this polymer made from castor oil is used in our sunglasses. The frames are not varnished, as is often the case in these types of products.
Because as we see it through our (well protected) eyes, the planet does not really need those chemical components...
At Quechua and Decathlon, being an eco-designer means that we have re-thought the technical processes at the heart of our products. The idea is to make the entire manufacturing chain as green as possible. For example, we have become great proponents of dope-dyeing, a dyeing process that uses less water and emits less sewage. An industry gesture for the environment when you know how much water is used when dyeing textiles. our dope-dyed textiles are mass dyed, using colour pigments when the yarn is manufactured. Our navy blue jacket and socks are dyed using this technique.
Another technique that has improved eco-design in our manufacturing process is bi-ton dyeing: simply, we only dye one out of every two threads. The natural thread gives the garment a mottled effect. With this alternating dyeing, we have reduced the CO2 impact of our MH100 tent by 41%. And since environmental progress is hidden in the details, we have also started using laser engraving to mark our products, as it doesn't require solvents, unlike traditional branding.
Thanks to all these steps taken to reduce our environmental impact, and everything we have learn during the process to lengthen the lifecycle of a product, we have already reached a first target: all our new products are now eco-designed. For the future, we have set ourselves a challenge:from 2026, we want 100% of our products in our catalogue to be eco-designed.
That's what is known as aiming for the sustainable top, no? And with eco-design, it looks like we have found the best way to protect our playground: the mountains we love walking so much without impacting them.