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Impact: Protect Our Winters

Inspired by the ways our canine companions give so much to us, we seek opportunities to give back to others. Through our Paw It Forward program, Ruffwear donates twice a year to organizations in four categories that align with our values: dog adoption, working dogs, land conservation, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the outdoors.

Our land conservation category features non-profit organizations that support the protection of public lands and access to recreational outdoor spaces where people and dogs go to play. Organizations can be nominated by Ruffwear employees and ambassadors. We are excited to announce Protect Our Winters as one of the latest beneficiaries of the Paw It Forward program.

dog and two humans skiing

If you love to play in the snow, you’ve probably noticed the impacts of climate change on winter patterns all over the world, whether it’s an extreme lack of snow or severe storms that lead to roof collapses, mud slides, flash floods, or tornados. For those living in the western United States, you may recall recent winters when your favorite ski area wasn’t able to open because there wasn’t enough snow. In 2007, this experience is precisely what motivated pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones to start Protect Our Winters: He noticed winter’s seeming disappearance and believed the snowsports industry could make a difference.

Yet, the problem isn’t just about having enough snow for recreation. Around the world, people depend on winter snowfall to replenish sources of drinking water, help mitigate wildfires and drought, and grow food. Likewise, the winter snowpack directly impacts the health of the world’s glaciers, which play a significant role in supporting human life and wildlife habitat.

dog and human nordic skiing

Until 2007, there was no organization for snow enthusiasts to collectively voice their concerns and ideas about climate change. So, Jeremy Jones founded Protect Our Winters (POW) to unite and mobilize the snowsports industry on behalf of our climate. Today, POW includes more than 130,000 supporters worldwide.

Protect Our Winters is a community of athletes, scientists, creatives, and business leaders who are passionate about the outdoors and protecting places we all love. POW uses advocacy to promote non-partisan policies that protect our climate and landscapes. Non-partisan, you say? That’s right. Because if ski areas can’t open, it’s not only a huge bummer for skiers and snowboarders. It also hurts small mountain communities that rely on winter tourism, and it impacts individuals living in those mountain towns who depend on ski industry jobs.

To tackle such a large and complex challenge, POW takes a three-pronged approach. First, it offers a unified voice for the collective outdoor community to opt into, and a message that makes an economic argument for protecting our planet. We can save our planet and create jobs simultaneously. This message is politically more inclusive and pulls the climate change conversation out of the traditional pro-environment versus pro-business debate.

dog and two humans ski touring through burn area of forest

Next, POW uses voter turnout campaigns to help the outdoor community make its voice heard at the ballot box. POW leverages its athletes, business leaders, and other influencers to encourage all outdoorists to vote and tell their friends to vote, too. And not just vote—but vote for political leaders who are willing to take action for our planet and prioritize climate policy.

Finally, POW uses advocacy to support policies that are favorable to the climate and our planet. This includes policies that favor large-scale renewable energy development (such as wind and solar), measures toward reducing emissions, and the creation of sustainable jobs in the clean energy sector.

How does all of this tie back to Ruffwear? For one, Ruffwear is part of the outdoor industry. Our business depends on a healthy planet and access to recreation. Therefore, our company shares responsibility in advocating for our planet and doing our part to reduce our own footprint. Supporting POW is one way for us to add our voice to the climate conversation and support a pro-climate action plan. As one Ruffwear employee put it:

"Protect Our Winters has been an inspiration to me personally for the better part of the past decade. Their approach to mobilizing the outdoor community for broad and systemic change really resonates with me as a member of this community and as an advocate for climate action." - Pete

dog and two humans ski touring by a cabin

In addition, our business headquarters is in Bend, Oregon. We’re one of those mountain towns with nearby ski areas, a hub for tourism and outdoor industry jobs, and one that relies on snowfall for drinking water, wildfire and drought mitigation, and local agriculture. Like so many other communities, we need winter.

And, of course, experiencing the winter season with our canine companions brings us joy. We can’t help but smile when our dogs frolic through fresh snow, dip their faces into drifts, and shake snowflakes off their fur. We love tossing a snowball or a Hydro Plane™ and watching furry friends bound through deep snow to fetch it.

These experiences help us appreciate our outdoor surroundings, the winter environment, and remind us the importance of giving back.