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Actions we’re taking

Tracking our footprint is step one. Change actually happens when we take the next step: action.

Luckily, we’ve been at this for a while. For years, MEC has been finding ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in the ways we make products, how we package and ship them, and how we operate our stores. Everything we’ve done so far is a good start but it isn’t the end point – there is no end point, really. We’re constantly researching and discovering new innovations to help reduce our emissions, and we continue to work towards being a retail leader in climate action.

Reducing emissions from products

Everything we sell, from backpacks to tents, has an impact on the planet. In fact, products represent the biggest portion of MEC’s emissions, so this is an area we’re zoning in on. We can reduce the impact of products through the materials we choose, the places we make them, and the brands we carry.

Every product has a different impact. For example, the emissions from an organic cotton t-shirt are different than those from a tent. We focus on the things we know make the largest impact for emissions: raw materials and manufacturing.

Examples of emissions breakdown by category

T-shirt icon


  • Dyeing and finishing: 36%
  • Yarn prep: 28%
  • Fibre production: 15%
  • Fabric production: 12%
  • Assembly: 7%
  • Distribution: 1%

Source: Quantis, 2018. Quantis calculated these percentages for the apparel and footwear industry in aggregate. Percentage breakdowns for different products will vary.

Icon of a hiking boot


  • Manufacturing: 43%
  • Assembly: 20%
  • Raw materials extraction: 20%
  • Raw materials processing: 14%
  • Distribution: 2%
  • Packaging: 1%

Source: Quantis, 2018.

Icon of a stainless steel water bottle

Stainless steel water bottle

  • Components, manufacturing and assembly: 42%
  • Raw materials: 29%
  • Packaging: 13%
  • Distribution: 11%
  • Other: 5%

Source: OIA, 2019. These percentages are an estimate only and are aggregated from data provided by relevant OIA member companies.

Source: Outdoor Industry Association Climate Action Corps

Choosing lower impact materials

Different materials have different environmental impacts, like greenhouse gas emissions, water, chemicals and waste impacts. MEC puts a lot of effort into sourcing low-impact materials.

We have goals for recycled polyester (made from water bottles) and recycled nylon (made from fishing nets). Recycled content is important because it means we’re not extracting virgin materials to create these fibres – a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As well, 100% of the cotton in MEC Label products is organically grown, and it’s been that way since 1998.

Chart showing the emissions by material type

These results were calculated using the Higg MSI 3.5 at They were calculated by MEC in January 2023 and are not third-party verified.

Choosing lower impact factories

When we design MEC Label gear and clothing, we also get to choose where to make it. We pick our factories carefully and keep an eye on their environmental performance. If you’re ever curious about where your gear or clothing is made, check out our publicly shared list of factories.

There’s a lot of data in the supply chain to be aware of, from social (like working conditions) to environmental (like waste). Many people are surprised to learn that MEC is a relatively small player at many of the factories we work with, which is why it’s super important for us to think big picture. With that in mind, we use something called the Higg Index to gather data.

We dig the Higg

The Higg Index lets us see the social and environmental data in our supply chain. It’s a set of online tools created by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition for businesses in the industry to use and share.

One of the Higg Index tools, the Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg FEM), is a self-assessment that collects energy, water, waste management, chemical management, and emissions data from factories. We ask our factories to have their self-assessments verified by an approved third-party to ensure everything is accurate. The factory-level data that’s gathered from the Higg FEM helps us increase the accuracy of our scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions calculations so that we don’t need to rely on industry average values.

Working with other brands

MEC Label is our in-house brand – but as a retailer, we carry lots of other brands too. The impact of these other products is a big part of our carbon footprint, though we have less control over ways to reduce these emissions. We aim to carry great brands that are working just as hard at reducing the environmental impact of their products.

In 2023, we sent out our first sustainability survey for our brand partners that asks about everything from their carbon footprint to the chemicals they use in products to their social impact efforts. This survey will not only help us increase the accuracy of our carbon footprint, but also inform us on what brands are doing across their sustainability programs. Through the results of this survey, we hope to support brands who are earlier in their sustainability journey and learn from brands who are taking ambitious and inspiring action, all in an effort to help drive the outdoor industry towards minimizing the impact of all the products we know and love.

Reducing emissions from shipping

MEC Label gear and clothing is made all over the world. To get backpacks, tents and fleece jackets to you, we need to ship them from factories to stores and onto the customer.

Choosing lower impact freight methods

To minimize the carbon footprint from shipping products, MEC Label prioritizes lower impact modes of freight:

  • For overseas shipments, the majority of MEC Label products are shipped as ocean freight since boats have a lower carbon footprint than planes.
  • Once overseas shipments land at the ports, we use rail as much as possible to move containers from the port to the distribution centre, so we can minimize the use of trucks.
  • For North American shipments, we aim to ship by rail instead of trucks whenever possible, since trains have a lower carbon footprint.
  • Whenever we can, we reduce multiple shipments by consolidating loads for MEC Label and other brands.
  • When we choose carriers to ship MEC Label products, the majority are SmartWay partners. These carriers keep fuel costs and environmental impact at a minimum.

We also use lower impact modes of transit whenever we can for products we sell from other brands, which come from warehouses in North America or overseas.

Solutions for shipping

Every time someone orders gear from, we need to make sure their package arrives on time and intact. We’re actively looking into ways to improve boxing up packages and shipping less empty space in packages (no one likes to receive a pair of socks in a giant box). Not only will this save on the amount of cardboard we use, but it also means our packages would require less space to ship, which translates to more packages per shipment for a lower carbon footprint.