Measure twice, cut once is an old adage that is at the heart of our design process. We try to think upstream to avoid problems in production and, ultimately, later on as our goods are owned and used. We’ve found that by carefully considering how and where a product will be used, that we effectively can “design out”—or avoid—many of the environmental impacts of a product.
An example may help to understand this a bit better. We know that zippers are integral, functional parts of a pack or tent, and we also know that there are thousands of zippers to choose from. Some zippers are extremely flexible and lightweight, but they might not be durable. If we pick one of these less durable zippers for a tent we sell to families or Scouts with kids frequently unzipping a door, it’s pretty likely that the zipper will fail much sooner than the rest of the tent. Fortunately, in that scenario, we’d likely be able to replace the zipper because our gear is designed with ease of repair in mind—we’re always happy to help customers fix our products.
However, many brands don’t offer repair help or spare parts, and these tents in need of a part like a zipper (but are otherwise in great shape) get tossed in the trash. Now, consider that reality across products we all purchase: the failed zippers of clothing and gear, the broken button on electronics, the cracked plastic in toys or kitchenware. All sorts of things wind up in the landfill prematurely.
It’s waste that could have been avoided with a bit more thought and measuring. That waste becomes a burden born by society as things fail to decompose in landfills, create harmful fumes, leak chemicals into groundwater, or are even shipped overseas to become someone else’s problem to deal with.
These kinds of outcomes are unacceptable to us, and we’re using a triple bottom line sustainability framework to hold ourselves accountable to avoiding them. The triple bottom line (3BL, TBL) framework was formalized a little over 25 years ago, and it is often referred to simply as a “People, Planet, Profit” approach to sustainability. And yet, it is intended to be far more than an accounting tool used to tally up social and environmental impacts versus sales.
A full realization of this framework requires deeper thinking about how economic systems work (or don’t work) and how we could create a form of capitalism that does more than generate monetary profits, but actually does good things for people and the earth.
At Diamond Brand Gear, we define our version of the TBL as a framework that accounts for the wellbeing of our craftspersons, our communities and the Earth. And we acknowledge that for our craft to thrive well beyond the next 140 years, these three forces must be nurtured with equal importance—a challenge we humbly accept.
Our second triple bottom line commitment is to our planet:
Working to live within our means starts with how we design products and ends with how we take responsibility for our waste.
Because our designs are products of over 100 years of use, they are elegantly simple, repairable, extremely durable, and suitable for a variety of different adventures; therefore, people only need one, saving the resources of making many. When we marry this approach with our relatively short production period to make goods as we sell them, we rarely waste materials through overproduction.
We also encourage the use of our products for multiple generations by providing replacement parts, repair services, DIY repair guides, and care & maintenance instructions so that we can avoid the environmental and financial costs of replacing gear. Letters like the one below that speak to the value of owning one tent for over 30 years truly make our day.
Rescued wall tent canvas is broken down for use in a new bag line from our Moonrise Project.
Eventually, all good things do come to an end, and we believe in taking responsibility for our gear when it’s beyond saving. We’ve built circular systems that incorporate this type of post-consumer waste as well as post-industrial waste created during the manufacturing process. We make use these materials in three different types of products:
- Rescue: products crafted from worn out tents that are sent to us by their former owners. For our business customers, we offer to send half of the products we make with the materials back to them to be used or sold at their discretion.
- “American” Boro: products that include upcycled fabric waste from the factory cutting room that is stitched back together in the tradition of Japanese Boro, a practice of mending garments out of necessity.
- Rebuilt: for some tents, refurbishment is an option. As a craft manufacturer, we can take the time to clean, repair, and resell tents that are ready for more adventures.
Our reasons for respecting the use of earth’s natural resources are simple—we craft products for outdoor adventures, and if the outdoors is a spoiled and exploited landscape with dirty air and water, then we’ve ruined our own playground and subsequently our business as well. The former president of the Sierra Club, David Brower, elegantly explained this situation by saying, “There is no business to be done on a dead planet.” This rings especially true for brands such as ours that craft products to enhance the outdoor experience. For us, it’s about saving our freedom to escape and adventure by only taking from nature what we truly need and limiting what waste we ask of her to process—and as a result we also help to ensure that we can stay in business for the long haul.
A Rescue Transit Bag made from a retired scout wall tent
“American Boro” pattern applied to our Day Tripper Duffle