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Low Impact Alliance – Expanding the Conversation about Sustainability

Published on | Low Impact Alliance | News & Updates

More customers than ever are considering the environmental impacts of their purchases. As retailers in an industry that depends on outdoor spaces and the quality of the environment, we must take our responsibility to the planet and our customers seriously. That is why we at the Low Impact Alliance have been hard at work over the last year to improve our industry’s record on sustainability and prepare for the future.
Runners picking up trash

After successfully collaborating with the University of Minnesota on a first-of-its-kind customer sustainability preferences survey, we are again partnering to pilot a new research project – a carbon footprint calculator for retailers. With this project, we aim to gather baseline information about carbon emissions from run specialty stores and offer insight into how each store can reduce its impact. If your store wants to be one of the first to learn from this program, please reach out to us!

As with any retail industry, we know that the products we sell will eventually reach the end of their useful lives. When it comes to disposing of these products, it often seems like there are few available options beyond shoe collection programs. The LIA, however, is working with key industry partners to expand this conversation and make product recycling a focal point of run specialty stores through a more engaging collection site that both educates and inspires customers to consider more responsible disposal of their gear. We believe an effort like this can dramatically increase product recycling awareness and participation, and will better prepare our industry for the future of circular product take-back and remanufacturing.

We have also learned that many stores want to start or improve their in-store recycling practices. Recycling, when done right, is a simple way for stores to reduce their environmental impact, but it can be confusing. To make it easier, we have created a guide that explains what recycling is, why it matters, and how to dispose of items we see in our stores every day.

This past May at the Running Industry Association’s Runchella event, the LIA was honored to organize and host an ASICS sponsored plogging event along Chicago’s scenic Lakefront Trail. Picking up litter while running or walking, RIA members picked up 100 pounds of trash in less than one hour!

Although our ongoing work is primarily focused on retailers, we know that retail is just one part of the industry. Over the year we have examined the waste and carbon emissions that brands contribute, and going forward, this awareness motivates us to push brands to do their part. With support from our members across the industry, we can ensure that run specialty is prepared for the future.

Over the course of the LIA’s short history, The Running Event has always marked important milestones, and this year is no different. After introducing the Low Impact Alliance at the 2021 event, and launching our first research project in 2022, we are excited to return to TRE this year as the event’s Environmental Impact Partner. To kick off TRE 2023, we will be joining local cleanup organizations to lead an ASICS sponsored trail cleanup. We will also be involved in a handful of educational seminars in addition to having a booth at the expo, where we will be educating retailers on the resources we provide the industry, debuting our product recycling program, and hosting a roundtable discussion.

We look forward to forging new relationships at TRE, the RIA's member summit, and beyond as we all work toward a more sustainable future for runners everywhere!

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