Sustainable Outdoor Clothing ?!?!

The operators of the tall ship Bark Europa have issued a kit list to voyage crew for the sail from Tierra del Fuego to the Antarctic Peninsula. Now I wonder how much stuff I have already and how I can approach the sustainability question with the things I will need to buy.

This is a whole new can of worms for me. While the impacts of fast fashion on the environment have been in the news in recent years, it’s hardly the stuff of frequent headlines. In fact, most of what I have learned about this comes from my student’s blogs. Part of our BSc Environmental Science course at the University of Plymouth is a science communication module, where we encourage our students to blog on an environmental topic they feel passionate about. Regarding my history of sustainable clothing, I’ve always preferred natural fibres and have always bought clothing that lasts – both in style and material, and people who know me will confirm that I am hardly a fashion addict (as I’m writing this, the thought what my students might think about this crosses my mind…and I’m letting that thought drift away quickly and decide not to ask them).

Clothing List for Sailors 

  • Thermal base-layers (3-4 tops and bottoms
  • Warm mid-layer tops (2-3)
  • Tops (shirts, sweaters, t-shirts)
  • Insulation layer top
  • Trousers (2 quick drying, 3 thermal, leggings)
  • Thermal socks, gloves, hats, scarves
  • Waterproof outer layer (top and bottom)
  • Waterproof knee-high boots (to wade ashore when landing by RIB)
  • Hiking shoes or boots

So, what do I make of this? Let’s start with what I’ve got:

1)  Oilskins

Charly AZAB 1999

At the helm of our aluminium yacht Selkie in 1990s. Still got that Musto jacket – although it is a little worn. Photo: David Rushby.

I’ve been sailing on yachts since 1990 and am currently using my second generation of Musto oilskins. That longevity results from looking after my kit and being not too demanding on fashion and the performance/light weight that new materials and technology can offer. My oilskins are made out of polyester and nylon (no gore tex or other modern membranes), with a high fleece collar. I know that fleece is not great for the environment and polyester/nylon garments are not widely recycled (more about all of that later), but overall, keeping what I’ve got, rather than buying new, appears to me as the most sustainable option (financially and environmentally), because it keeps the stuff I have out of landfill or incinerator and saves the resources for manufacture of new stuff. Talking about ‘stuff’: check out the Story of Stuff if you are interested in reducing the stuff that clutters your life.

….next posts: 2) Clothes that keep me warm….and 3) Elastane, Lycra, Spandex….


Featured Image

Bark Europa in the South Shetland Islands. Picture edited out of the Voyage Brochure for Antarctic cruises in the 2020/2021 season. 


The Story of Stuff. 2018. Video The Story of Stuff. By an organisation that became a movement… [accessed 15/02/2020]



2 Comments on “Sustainable Outdoor Clothing ?!?!

  1. Pingback: Elastane – Lycra – Spandex | Challenging Habitat

  2. Pingback: Sustainable Outdoor Clothing ?!?! continued (4) | Challenging Habitat

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: