Mountain Hardwear - Men's Stretch Ozonic Jacket

overall rating:

0.5

planets

Brendan Bontrager
6/29/2021
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The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Jacket is a product that clearly did not include sustainability in its design process. Mountain Hardwear has neglected sustainability considerations in order to offer a high-performance product. Though the company has some sustainability initiatives, they are largely inconsequential and limited in their scope. The company is notably transparent with the impact of their manufacturing processes, but nevertheless, the impact is quite negative. This is not a product that I would recommend for consumers intending to shop with sustainability in mind. Though this product is likely of very high quality, alternatives that are both effective and sustainable exist such as the Coxopati Teca Half-Zip Windbreaker.

What it's made of:

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Mountain Hardwear lists only two things under the materials for this jacket: that it is 100% nylon and that it uses their Dry.Q Active technology. In the product details, they also mention the inclusion of Aquaguard vislon zippers. Let’s start with the nylon. Nylon is derived in part from coal and petroleum, meaning that its production maintains demand in the dirtiest of industries. Nylon’s production is very energy and water intensive and creates nitrous oxide as a byproduct, which is 300 times more potent than CO2. Furthermore, nylon is not biodegradable, so once it finds its way to a landfill, it’s staying there forever. As such, Mountain Hardwear certainly shouldn’t be lauded for their use of 100% nylon in this product. As for the Dry.Q Active technology, no information is provided as to whether this waterproofing measure uses any additional chemicals, so the company is severely lacking in transparency here. The zippers for this jacket are produced by YKK, a separate company specializing in zippers. The Vislon Aquaguard zippers they produce are made of plastic and treated with polyurethane, a waterproofing petrochemical. Overall, each of the divulged materials for this product are either derived from petroleum or coal products or are unable to be evaluated due to lack of transparency. However, giving credit where credit is due, this product was designed specifically with materials in mind that would ensure the jacket has a long useful life and therefore eliminates the need for frequent purchases of similar products. Mountain Hardwear clearly chose to prioritize performance over sustainability with the Stretch Ozonic Jacket.

How it's made:

0.5

The Mountain Hardwear brand is owned by Columbia Sportswear Company (CSC), so the provided information of production processes for Mountain Hardwear is combined with that of the other brands CSC owns. As touched on in the previous section, this production process for the jacket’s nylon material is both water and energy intensive. In their 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report, CSC reports that Nylon accounted for 55,278 tonnes of their CO2 emissions for that year and 119 billion gallons of their water consumption. Furthermore, manufacturing accounted for 52% of their total carbon emissions (353,039 tons CO2e). CSC’s products are almost exclusively produced in East Asian countries in factories they do not own, so not only do they omit the emissions from these factories from their totals, but they also do not seem to account for emissions associated with product distribution. This is troubling as Mountain Hardwear products are primarily sold in the United States and Canada, so they products must travel halfway around the world from their production sites and therefore likely have very high distribution emissions. CSC does provide a Transparency in Supply Chain Statement, but this exclusively discusses ethical labor issues and does not touch on sustainability. Though the statistics Columbia Sportswear Company provides about their manufacturing processes are not impressive, they are present in detail nonetheless, so the transparency should be noted.

Who makes it:

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This jacket is made and sold by Mountain Hardwear, a division of the Columbia Sportswear Company. Mountain Hardwear itself does not seem to have any meaningful commitment to sustainability and what little initiative they have tend to be more geared towards product longevity than actually reducing impact. Mountain Hardwear details some of their “sustainable technologies” that range from recycled and toxics-free materials to mere statements on how products are designed to last so new purchases are avoided. The company also touts a “repair not replace” warranty initiative intending to keep damaged products from the landfill. However, this program does not cover normal wear and tear, the natural breakdown of materials over time, or accidents, so the pool of what they will repair is essentially limited to production defects. The parent company, Columbia Sportswear Company, includes details on their carbon emissions in their 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report. The company reports 681,187 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions. However, CSC does have some use some renewably generated energy; they report that 1% of their total energy consumption came from solar generation, avoiding 85 additional tons of CO2 equivalent emissions. Though the effort should be recognized, the amount of emissions avoided is practically negligible. Mountain Hardwear and Columbia Sportswear Company have some some small sustainability initiatives, but they are by no means comprehensive or well-integrated in to their business models. These companies have clearly prioritized product quality over sustainable solutions.