It’s over a year since cycling brand Pearl iZUMi announced a new Social Purpose – Ride More, Do More – “Because we believe how we live shapes how future generations ride, we pledge to ride more and do more.” Founded over 60 years ago in Japan, its world headquarters is now based in the Colorado Front Range where it embraces strong influence, both culturally and structurally, from its Japanese heritage.
As part of its industry-leading initiative, PEARL iZUMi outlined its ambitious goal to reduce the consumption of oil through its business practices, product and advocacy. After working both within the company and with the brand’s vendors and retail partners, it has reported on the progress made during its first year of implementation.
Company President Chris Sword said, “From the beginning we said this is ‘important’ because our employees and consumers care deeply about it, but we can make it ‘powerful’ if it’s focused, aligned, and uniquely PEARL iZUMi. Well this is our one-year report card, and while I would say we’re never satisfied, we’re also happy with our progress.”
Established during a company-wide process to redefine the mission and identify core values, the Social Purpose grew from employees’ desire to use the business, and leverage the power of the bike, to create positive change.
To formally put this idea into practice, the company established teams focused on the areas of business practices, product, and advocacy, tasked with creating programs to bring the Social Purpose to life (and to go beyond corporate responsibility and sustainability efforts). During the past year, these teams have generated several notable ideas and actions.
Pushing for Sustainable Product
A major component of the social purpose effort is to create more sustainable products. Heading into 2020, the new Road, Mountain and BikeStyle® collections will feature significant use of recycled materials. For instance, the new Attack collection, which has been a mainstay of the line for decades, will now be made up entirely of fabrics created from post-consumer content.
With an initial target of 30% of the product line made from recycled, renewable or organic materials by 2020, the company is ahead of schedule and on its way toward a long-term commitment of making 90% of the product line from sustainable materials by 2022.
Christopher Martens, VP of Product, said, “Mid 2018, we established ambitious goals to create 30% of our line from recycled, renewable, or organic materials by 2020. We pushed hard throughout this past year, developed over 70 new fabrics, and redesigned more than 100 styles. I’m pleased to announce that with the introduction of our Spring 20 line we have already surpassed the 30% mark.”
Hands on Advocacy
Two new programs have been rolled out on the advocacy side to support organisations doing work in line with the Social Purpose. With ‘Go grants’, the company will create advocacy relationships to grow bicycle ridership through community, rider resources and improved trail access at the local level. To encourage hands-on participation in these programs, the company introduced Advocacy Time-Off, which allows each employee two days of annual paid leave to volunteer with partner organisations.
Cory Hibbard, Advocacy Team Member, noted, “Go grants are really designed to leverage the passion of our team to support partners on grassroots bike-advocacy projects aligned with our Social Purpose. When we announced this program along with our new ATO benefit at a recent company meeting the positive response was overwhelming.”
Sustainable Business Practices
To encourage more employees to ride to work, PEARL iZUMi has introduced a strengthened ‘Go carless’ incentive program, which allows employees to earn mileage credits that can be spent on gear or donated to the Go grants fund. To eliminate potential barriers, a Commuter Ride Assistance Program (CRAP) was also put in place that allows bike-commuting employees to expense rideshare services in cases of family emergency, severe weather, or catastrophic bike breakdown.
These efforts build on actions taken last year to reduce paper usage and packaging waste. In Spring 2019, the company virtually eliminated product hangtags, saving a significant amount of paper, water and oil every season.
In 2018, paper catalogues were eliminated in favor of a digital merchandising platform to help retailers plan their business. This puts the brand on track to use 19,400 lbs less paper, save 206 trees, reduce 84,882 gallons of water and cut out 5,614 gallons of oil by the start of 2020.
Other notable initiatives include the company’s partnership with the Renewal Workshop to repair and resell warranty returns, giving gently used products a second life instead of adding to the landfill. Last spring, it also earned Gold recognition from the City of Louisville, Colorado in the Louisville Green Business Program and Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE).
Additionally, PEARL iZUMi is the first cycling apparel or footwear brand to utilise the Higg Index for environmental reporting – the sustainability index that was developed by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.