We love innovative brands and gear. Especially if they can help us get outside more and enjoy nature without leaving such a big ‘ol ugly footprint. And if there’s one brand that fits that description to a “T,” it’s BioLite. Not only does the brand make quality gear that runs on natural fuels (likes sticks or the sun), many of those products also work to clean the air, charge batteries, and do good (all while you’re cooking your dinner or lounging in your hammock). But the CEO of BioLite also partnered with Peak Design‘s CEO to create Certified Climate Neutral, an effort to help more business become carbon neutral (and yes, BioLite and Peak Design are also carbon-neutral). Wanna learn more about BioLite’s sustainability efforts? Read on to learn more about BioLite Sustainable Outdoor Products.
A Q&A with BioLite: Sustainable Outdoor Products
What is BioLite’s mission and how do your products achieve that mission?
Our mission is to Bring Energy Everywhere. Everything is energy, literally. And in today’s world, even if you live off-grid in Western Africa, you probably still have a cell-phone or other small device. In fact, it’s very common in some of these emerging markets, such as Kenya, that a cell phone is also your means to pay for goods and services via mobile payment apps (instead of the credit/debit cards that we’re familiar with here in the US).
Our products play an integral role in 2 ways. The first is to provide a means to cook cleanly (ie, not over open, smokey fires), and the second is to provide easy/accessible energy to power small devices. Our entire line of cookstoves solves both of these problems — each stove burns biomass (sticks, twigs, dung) and burns off over 90% of the smoke while providing 3-5 volt output to charge a small device while cooking. For context, about 2/3rds of the world still cooks over open, smokey fires and this kills more people than TB and Malaria combined each year.
That’s crazy! Then how are Biolite sustainable outdoor products better for the environment and better for people trying to get outside more?
Our products are better for the environment first and foremost because of the nature of the products themselves. Our solar panels, camp stoves, and lights naturally off-set carbon due to the types of products that they are. They enable people to extend their time in the backcountry. Don’t have power? Plug into our SolarPanel 5+. Don’t have much sunlight? Cook yourself a meal on our CampStove 2 while giving your phone a boost.
But it’s not all about camping; the company provides clean-burning stoves to other countries, too, right? What’s that about?
Yes. We like to call it “Parallel Innovation.” Launching products in the emerging markets (we have the biggest presence in Kenya) is difficult and costly, especially if we want people in those markets to be able to access them affordably. In order to bring operations to scale in these markets, we use our sales in the Outdoor Recreation markets to help subsidize operations in Emerging Markets. As stated before, open smokey fires kill more people than TB & Malaria combined each year. Also, black carbon (what we know as “soot”) is the 2nd biggest contributor to global climate change. By eliminating as much black carbon from cooking, we’re able to address both climate change and quality of life by bringing energy to those living in energy poverty.
So we can feel good about supporting an ethically responsible brand as well as an environmentally responsible one. Always a plus. BioLite also co-founded Certified Climate Neutral, right? Why launch another carbon neutral program? How is it different?
Climate Neutral is the next step in getting other companies to follow suit. We, as part of the Outdoor Retail Industry Association (OIA), feel that it is our responsibility to get other brands on board so that we can all measure, reduce, and offset the carbon that we create. Everything from the goods we manufacture, to the office supplies, shipping/receiving, etc. are all calculated. Because BioLite has been carbon neutral since 2012, we’ve been able to come up with tools and best practices that are scalable to all businesses across a variety of industries.
Do you think there’s a certain responsibility that outdoor-related companies have to protect the natural spaces we all love?
This is precisely the goal of Climate Neutral. Of course, there’s 1% for the Planet or other similar initiatives out there — but none of them address the issue at the core, which is making sure that all businesses (especially OIA brands with a vested interest) are able to protect the places where we hike and play by addressing their own outputs.
As consumers, when we go shopping for outdoor gear, how can we make more responsible purchases?
When shopping for outdoor gear, look for the “Climate Neutral” tag on products. Over 70+ brands are now a part of this Climate Neutral initiative (including Kammok, Peak Design, and others). If that’s not an option, then make sure you’re buying from a brand that takes the time to understand the impact that they have. Patagonia, The North Face and others do a great job of this as well.
Thanks for filling us in, BioLite! Now if you’ll excuse us, we have a few new pieces of gear to go drool over.
*This post contains affiliate links. That means we may receive a small percentage of sales that result in you supporting killer outdoor brands that care about sustainability and stuff.
Alisha is a freelance writer and photographer based in Austin, TX. She loves her tiny house, vegan food and experiencing the community of travel in far away places. She’s also pretty sure she’s addicted to coffee. alishamcdarris.com