Outdoor Recreation Industry Feeling Impacts of Climate Change
A Conversation with Christina Miller – C13 Alum
Christina is an analyst for L.L. Bean’s outdoor programs. She joined the organization shortly after earning her MBA from Pinchot University in 2016. Our conversation appears below, lightly edited for length and clarity.
Is climate change having an impact on outdoor recreation? If so, how?
It absolutely is! We always love to say, “there is no such thing as bad weather”, however, climate change is creating adverse weather conditions that impact outdoor recreation. Here in Maine, we have been seeing such variability in our seasons due to a changing climate. For example, we had a winter with poor snow conditions in the majority of the state, which resulted in our program being unable to run a lot of our winter activities. We also have had a very long, cold and rainy spring, which has resulted in a very slow start to our summer paddling programs.
The more time people spend outside the happier, healthier and more likely they are to be stewards of the environment. When we have unpredictable or variable weather, it limits our ability to help get people outdoors creating those deep connections with nature.
Many of us gravitated to sustainable business degrees because we love nature and wild places. How can we chase those passions but keep our footprint light?
I always ask myself, “Am I leaving this place better than when I found it?” This is the backbone of Leave No Trace principles and this mindset will allow all of us to enjoy and spend time in the outdoors while also ensuring the outdoors will be available for future generations.
Knowledge is power when it comes to buying gear and apparel to get you outside! Before buying gear, ask the question, can I rent this or borrow this instead of buying it new? If I need to buy new, am I buying high-quality that will withstand intense use? Are the outdoor brands I am purchasing from integrating sustainability into their product development and supply chain?
Are you seeing positive changes occur?
Yes! While no one brand is perfect, I think outdoor brands are getting much better at addressing sustainability. I think in the past there was a lot of fear around sharing sustainability stories or progress because brands were afraid if they did not match up to other outdoor companies like Patagonia, it would shed a negative light on them. I think the most important thing brands can do is start the discussion, and the more discussion we all can have, the greater the progress we will make.