Reinventing Capitalism, the Burgeon Way (Part 2)
Textile and clothing manufacturing has a long, dark history of creating waste and exploiting workers. How do you change an industry when you are a new company? How do you develop and innovate new ways to manufacture clothing that are better for the environment, the people who make the products, and their communities?
Burgeon Outdoor, founded in Lincoln, NH, is paving the way for a more sustainable, community-driven textile manufacturing model. By investing in the environment, people, and communities where they operate, Burgeon is reinventing the apparel industry one garment at a time, while providing a model to reinvent capitalism as a whole.
The first article in this series detailed how Burgeon economically impacts its people and community. Sourcing domestically, making their products locally, and having all employees participate in the success of the business are just some facets of the Burgeon way. Equally important is Burgeon’s impact on the environment and their community.
Burgeon uses natural, organic, and recycled materials whenever possible. These materials lessen the impact of their production on the environment.
Their award winning Flume Baselayer is 91 percent Tencel. Tencel is a unique fiber consisting of natural cellulose fibers made from wood pulp. Tencel is naturally breathable, odor-resistant, quick drying, thermoregulating, and very comfortable. Tencel is not only a sustainable choice, but it also outperforms synthetic fibers.
When using synthetic fibers, Burgeon strives to use recycled materials whenever possible. All the products in their Campfire Fleece collection are made of Polartec Thermal Pro, which has 92 percent recycled polyester content. Their popular graphic T-shirts are a 50/50 combination of organic cotton and recycled polyester. The most recent version of their popular Sunseeker Hoodie is 75 percent recycled polyester, 19 percent tencel, and six percent spandex.
There is a great deal of waste in the textile industry. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, every second, the equivalent of a garbage truckload of fabric is either burned or buried in a landfill. Tens of millions of tons of fabric are discarded annually, and many of those fabrics are still usable or at the very least recyclable. Burgeon Outdoor is interrupting the cycle of waste by utilizing these overstocks in multiple product lines.
To highlight the importance of environmental sustainability, Burgeon recently launched its Pemi Hoodie. This stylish hoodie is made exclusively of first quality deadstock fabric. Deadstock fabric is first quality fabric that is overproduced in error, dyed the wrong color, or canceled by the customer. In many cases, deadstock material is sent to the landfill.
In a few short weeks, Burgeon will be launching its Tuckerman Jacket and Snow Pants. Just like the Pemi Hoodie, these breathable and waterproof products will be made entirely from the canceled fabric orders of other brands. By utilizing this material, Burgeon can make a first class hardshell jacket with a much lower impact on the environment than its peers.
Creating a positive impact in the local community is a critical part of how Burgeon is reinventing capitalism. Five percent of Burgeon’s sales are dedicated to these efforts. Burgeon makes an impact in its community in two formats: first, by volunteering and doing the work, and second, by supporting organizations that help increase access to the outdoors.
Burgeon maintains three trails in the White Mountains: the Old Bridle Path, Willey Range trail, and the Pine Link trail. This preservation work helps to insure that hikers will have access to these gorgeous places for years to come. Burgeon employees and brand ambassadors visit each of these trails three times a year to perform maintenance and check the condition of the trails. Repairing and cleaning water bars is not glamorous, but it is important work.
Being active in local organizations helps Burgeon build community. New England Disabled Sports enables thousands of people to access the outdoors who might not otherwise be able. Burgeon not only donates money to “NEDS” and other similar organizations, but employees volunteer their time there as well. Each Burgeon employee is allocated two days a year to volunteer at the non-profit of their choice.
Since they are also close to the Appalachian Trail, it is only natural that they participate in some Trail Magic along the way. They do this by hosting breakfast at the Notch Hostel, providing s’mores at Hikers Welcome, providing wifi/free charging of devices and snacks at their studio, and offering gear repair. These seemingly simple acts help them extend the warm feeling of community even to those simply passing through.
With only so much time in the day, their team often meets their limits with boots-on-the-ground volunteer work. That’s why they extended their reach to put money back into the community they love. Burgeon financially supports organizations such as the aforementioned NEDS, Granite Backcountry Alliance, Friends of Tuckerman Ravine, the Linwood Community Center, and several others.
Burgeon is both a concept and a company. It is both a team working together to create a positive impact in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, as well as an aspiration — that companies can do well by doing good for their employees, their environment, and their community.