Friday 1 July 2011

What Happens To Your Old Gear? Survey at Explore RED

What happens to gear you no longer use? Is there any use left for those worn-out shoes or that faded jacket? Surprisingly, stuff that may seem trash may actually have some life left. Little research has been done on this however. Until now that is. A new programme called Explore Red (Re-Use, Explore, Discover) has been set-up to research old gear and promote stuff that is still functional. Created and run by Don Gladstone, who has been involved with the outdoor industry for many years and who came up with the idea whilst paddling down the River Spey in Scotland, Explore RED will look at everything from people’s expectations of products to the social and commercial value of well-used items. The research is being carried out in collaboration with Leeds and Lancaster Universities.

Initially Explore RED is looking at consumers views and there’s a short survey on the website. Fill it in and you could win some outdoor gear from Rab and Teko! Then you have to decide what to do with your old gear ……

Gear that really is beyond use (as the shoes in the picture probably are as the sole unit has split) can sometimes be recycled but finding out about this can be difficult. The European Outdoor Group (EOG) Sustainability Working Group has been working on this and news will be released at the forthcoming Outdoor show in Friedrichshafen, which I will be attending.

Reusing unwanted gear and recycling gear that really is beyond use are both good ideas but require information, encouragement and a quick and easy way of doing so is needed if they are to be taken up by many people. Hopefully, these initiatives will result in this.


  1. Chris, thanks for this interesting post. I will have look at the website a much better proposition than throwing stuff away

  2. Hi Chris
    Just thought I would mention Jamie Sims of Oxfam and Ben Evans of Rohan Keswick have partnered up for the summer. Customers can drop off any piece of used Rohan clothing to either store, and in exchange receive a discount voucher off any new clothing and accessories at the Rohan Keswick store on Lake Road. The pilot scheme is initially only available at the Keswick branches at this time. It is hoped that should it be a success, it will spread to other Rohan outlets. Sarah - Rohantime (

  3. Thanks for the post. Completed survey and then went home to tidy up my gear cupboard. The worst offending item was fleeces. Must have counted 10 or 11 and I usually always wear the same one!

  4. Knowing what to do with old shoes and boots would be useful, as it is such a shame to dispose of something that can be recycled.

    I typically use all my kit to absolute destruction, and tend to view the last moments of a pair of shoes as their final swan song before leaving my service. Mostly, my kit serves me well, and I still have equipment acquired during my teens. I have a Snugpak Antartica 2C sleeping bag that I have had since I was 15, and it is still my only cold weather synthetic bag. It smells of Redex, care of a spill in the boot of my car once, but it has otherwise been well cared for. The majority of my kit has gathered more memories than dust, and as such has been given a full and useful life. It seems unjust to throw these things away when they still function, and perhaps underlines the importance of paying for quality items that last. But, those shoes do break eventually, and it would be nice to see a more positive effort on the part of manufacturers to make recycling more accessible and straight-forward.

  5. Very interesting post, and I will share it now. We have loads of bits in the garage, AND old climbing gear, but most bits get thrown simply because so few peeps seem interested in buying second hand gear in this age of labels, promotions and incentives to chuck out and replace.

    My gut reaction is that so many people I see on the hills here in Wales seem to be sporting the latest and best in gear and wouldn't be seen dead buying second hand ?

    Ironically, are the mags and outdoor companies themselves not largely to blame for this - in terms of advertising and PR ?