Ride More, Do More

The expansive and inspiring impact of PEARL iZUMi's homegrown Social Purpose initiative

Article by Kelli Ruhl

Photography by PEARL iZUMi, Our Wind Tunnel Testing in Canada. This testing proved that you can use sustainable materials without sacrificing performance.

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

“We believe how we live shapes how future generations ride.”

It's right there on the company website. 

So begins PEARL iZUMi’s (PI) Social Purpose pledge to Ride More, Do More. In the 18 months since the cycling apparel company, headquartered in Louisville, implemented its homegrown initiative to “leverage the power of the bike and our global business to create positive change worldwide,” the company’s progress has proved nothing short of inspiring.

PI’s Social Purpose campaign involves a push for sustainability throughout their product lines and business practices, a drive for community advocacy, as well as the expansion of their ride to work program. With regards to creating sustainable products, the company is on a mission to make 90% of its product line from sustainable materials by 2022.

In August 2019, the team had accomplished its goal of using 30% sustainable materials by 2020, having sourced and vetted over 70 new fabrics and redesigned more than 100 styles, with recycled materials featuring significantly in the brand’s Road, Mountain, and BikeStyle® collections.

“For the past few years, PI has invested significant resources into deeply defining our company mission, vision, and values,” says Aaron Kutzer, PI’s Social Purpose Lead. “In summary, that data-driven work reinforced what we already knew: that limiting our negative environmental impacts and acting as responsible stewards of the outdoors are critically important to the entire PI team, and to our customers. Creating high-performance products that don’t negatively impact the environment seemed like a great place to start.”

In addition to creating sustainable products, PI is also actively incorporating sustainable business practices across the board. Heading into 2020, the team has reduced their annual paper use by 19,400 pounds-or 206 trees-by radically limiting hang-tags, rethinking how they package gear, eliminating paper catalogs, and partnering with The Renewal Workshop to repair returns before selling them as “renewed” items at a discount.

In its effort to reduce oil and encourage people to ride more, the company expanded its ride to work program by creating a Commuter Ride Assistance Program, which allows employees to expense rideshare services when an emergency interrupts their bike commute. Additionally, the company encourages employees to go carless by rewarding them with credits for every bike commute that can either go towards gear or towards PI’s Go Grants program, a large part of their advocacy initiative.

According to the company's website, this program was instituted to “empower grassroots bike organizations aligned with our Social Purpose with money and volunteers,” and includes getting the PI team personally involved through Advocacy Time-Off, which encourages employees to take two days paid annual leave to work alongside Go Grant recipients.

With 60 years of inspiration and impact behind them, the PI team is looking to a bright future ahead: “Sustainable products are really only the beginning,” explains Christopher Martens, Vice President of Product. “There is still a lot of opportunity ahead.”

The company plans to continue evolving well beyond its 2022 sustainability goal, as Aaron relates: “We are constantly assessing our business practices, measuring the impact of what we do and how we behave, and creating actions to offset and ultimately give back. We will continue to execute our Social Purpose mantra: to ride more and do more, with a focus on reducing fossil fuel use and supporting projects that encourage more people to ride bicycles: for commuting, for fitness, and for fun.”

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