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| 1 min read | by Doug Marrin, dmarrin@thesuntimesnews.com |

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The Huron-Clinton Metroparks is teaming up with REI in the #OptOutside initiative taking place this year on Friday, Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving.

Five years ago REI began closing its stores on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. In what seems counterintuitive for a business, REI made the move as a protest against rampant consumerism and its devastating impact on the environment.

The message began with REI closing its doors to encourage employees and the public to spend the day outdoors. It has quickly grown into challenging people to “OptOutside by ‘Opting to Act.’

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“As a single company, our impact is limited, but as a community, we can drive change that powers meaningful action beyond our walls,” wrote REI CEO Eric Artz. “As a co-op, we know that many people taking many small steps together can add up to big changes. Collective intention will drive collective impact.”

HCMA has jumped on board with REI’s initiative and has volunteer opportunities available to #OptOutside and ‘Opting to Act.’

“Partnering with REI for volunteer opportunities is a perfect match for the Metroparks,” said Katie Kowalski, Huron-Clinton Metroparks Volunteer Services Supervisor in a statement. “We are able to share our knowledge, enterprise, and passion for natural spaces and stewardship of our natural resources.”

You can learn about volunteer opportunities and hikes by visiting, https://www.metroparks.com/events/list/?tribe_eventcategory=196.

Beginning as just getting outside for a hike, #OptOutside is now about finding ways to restore the outdoors. Instead of creating more waste through excessive commercialism, it might mean grabbing a few friends and cleaning up some litter or in the case of the Metroparks, helping to remove destructive invasive species.

REI is taking it even further than that by rethinking the future of retail by taking emphasizing a circular economy. Among other initiatives, they are promoting more gear rental. The company is beginning a gear buy-back program for old gear to recycle it rather than send it to the landfill. REI is committed to using less packaging material and encouraging their suppliers to do so as well.

You can learn more about “OptOutside on their website.

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