Partner in Advocacy: A Decade-Long Expedition for Arctic Protections with POW and The North Face
POW and The North Face are old pals, partnering together for over a decade. We not only share Alliance members and our love for the outdoors, but we also share the same passion for protecting the outdoor spaces we love the most from climate change. The North Face has joined us on Capitol Hill, all the way to the Arctic advocating for the protection of our public lands and a more sustainable future.
“We take a broad approach to advocacy and look across our areas of influence from our marketing and communications, to athletes and fans, and our work with POW and other partners,” said The North Face’s Director of Social Impact and Advocacy, Eric Raymond. “In addition to decades of advocacy work and two recently launched films, we’ve hosted events for lawmakers and staff in DC to educate and advocate for climate issues like the Arctic Refuge.”
With deep values being a part of The North Face brand since the very beginning, it’s used its platform to be a voice for both climate advocacy and social justice. Notably, the brand has been a powerful advocate for Arctic protections. The first The North Face expedition in 1972 was to the Brooks Range in Alaska’s Arctic to raise awareness and question a proposed oil and gas pipeline.
“The Arctic Refuge is 19+ million acres of incredibly beautiful tundra and mountains. It’s also land that is held sacred by the Gwich’in people, who tell us how they are connected to Caribou as their primary food source and way of life, as they have been for thousands of years,” said Raymond. “The Arctic is a key indicator for climate change; temperatures in the Arctic are rising faster than the rest of the planet and its permafrost stores vast amounts of carbon, which releases into the atmosphere as it melts.”
The North Face’s longstanding commitment to climate, land protection and the Arctic lies at the heart of our relationship. Thanks to the advocacy work The North Face and many others have put in, earlier this year we were able to celebrate a small win for the Arctic when the Biden Administration announced a suite of actions aimed at protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and lands within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. This announcement seeks to cancel the remaining oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, marking a huge win for climate, our public lands and the Gwich’in people who call this place home.
While we are planning for the next phase, let’s take a look back at the work we’ve done together that helped us celebrate this important milestone:
The Arctic Refuge is an incredible example of our public lands but many young people aren’t aware of its legacy. A study conducted for The North Face by YPulse, a youth-focused research organization, found that 68% of Generation Z Americans were unaware of the threats to the landscape.
In order to raise awareness and educate young voters about what’s happening in the Arctic, The North Face and POW Athlete Alliance member, Kit DesLauriers took a group of young creators from a variety of backgrounds to visit the Arctic in partnership with the Alaska Wilderness League in 2018. The trip served as a way for these creators to not only experience the wonders of the Arctic firsthand but to also connect the dots between the Refuge’s ties to climate and social justice.
In May 2019, The North Face joined POW on Capitol Hill to advocate for Arctic protections. During this trip, we paddled on the Potomac with packrafts and met with lawmakers about the importance of voting yes on the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act.
Later that year POW returned to Washington D.C. with Eric Raymond and professional ski mountaineer and shared POW Alliance member, Hilaree Nelson, alongside Quannah Chasinghorse and other Gwitch’in activists to urge lawmakers to protect our public lands.
During that same trip, Hilaree spoke at a live press conference and POW testified in support of HR 1146, The Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plan Protection Act. Hilaree was an outspoken advocate for the Arctic, in the best way, and this press conference offered a great opportunity to highlight the work POW and The North Face had done together.
As a result of these efforts, we were able to celebrate the legislation passing in person, proving that the work that POW, The North Face, Hilaree and many others had done can create a large impact.
“We’ve been incredibly inspired to see athletes, businesses and the outdoor community come together to support The Arctic Refuge and Indigenous communities with one shared voice—the variety of perspectives came together to create a strong voice with lawmakers,” said Raymond. “The feeling of real-time impact working in DC is energizing.”
One of many things The North Face is good at is using its platform to create compelling content that inspires action. In 2020, The North Face partnered up with Teton Gravity Research to create content that connects voters to the importance of protecting the Arctic. The story poignantly paints the picture of how special the Arctic Refuge is for both the people who call it home, the animals that live there and the people who treasure the landscape as a public land while educating voters on why it’s critical to keep the Refuge protected.
POW and The North Face teamed up again for Kit DesLauriers’ expedition to the Brooks Range to take snowpack measurements to contribute to scientific efforts to help protect this region. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has a nine-inch minimum snow depth coverage in the winter months in order for the land underneath to be protected from industry activity. Most of what DesLauriers’ found was that the average snow depth is actually much less than the BLM’s nine-inch minimum. The goal of this work is to establish protections for this rugged, yet vulnerable ecosystem.
“My trips to the Arctic have shown me another layer of the story that has evolved to the realization that it’s not just about social and environmental justice or wilderness for the sake of wilderness, but it’s also about the fact that the conditions don’t exist for responsible oil drilling,” said Kit DesLauriers.
You can watch Beyond the Summit here:
Earlier this year, The North Face released a short film, Walking Two Worlds which is about 20 year-old Hän Gwich’in, Quannah Chasinghorse straddling two lives: one as a model, and the other as a spokesperson for the protection of the place where she grew up—Alaska’s Arctic. In this film, we see Quannah and her mom, Jody Potts-Joseph’s, unwavering love and responsibility for the land they call home.
Watch the film below:
Being able to celebrate the Biden Administration’s suite of actions to protect the Arctic makes this work that much more meaningful and offers a great example of why we choose to do this work together. With The North Face as a Partner in Advocacy, we can continue to make more meaningful steps toward achieving our goals of carbon neutrality.
The North Face Sustainability and Circular Design
The North Face’s climate efforts don’t end at advocacy. The brand is also committed to protecting the places we love through its sustainability efforts and creating high-quality products with the Earth in mind. In fact, The North Face is working to make 100% of its apparel materials either recycled or responsibly sourced, renewable or regeneratively grown by 2025 to reduce its use of finite resources.
“Our vision is to make the world a more sustainable place to explore. Inspired by cyclical patterns in nature, we’re working to keep the circle going by giving old gear new life through circular design,” said Raymond. “Circular products are constructed to minimize waste and be recyclable when you get them back to us.”
In October of 2022, The North Face launched its first Circular Design products. Since then, the brand has continued to expand its Circular Design product offerings and Circaloft is the latest innovation in this important work. Launched this September, the new Circaloft collection serves as an evolution of the company’s commitments to circularity and sustainable products.
Author: Stacie Sullivan
Stacie always knew she wanted to pursue a career in the ski industry from a young age, having first clicked into skis at the age of 4 and writing her 8th grade career project on being a professional skier. While her dreams of becoming a professional athlete didn’t quite pan out the way she planned at […]