Anyone who meets an Arctic fox in the wild will remember it forever. This small fox who has given its name to the company Fjällräven is a charismatic little creature, uniquely equipped for the harsh winter climate of the Arctic mountains. Shy yet playful. And sadly endangered in Scandinavia.
But the Scandinavian Arctic fox is not the only species under immense pressure. Biological diversity is threatened all over the world, and new climate alarms are being sounded all the time.
So Fjällräven has widened the scope of its environmental work and is launching the Arctic Fox Initiative as a way to support more projects and ideas that give something back to nature.
“We have had a series of Save the Arctic Fox products for some time where we have donated a percentage of sales to projects that are working towards the preservation of Arctic foxes. “With the Arctic Fox Initiative, we are taking a wider approach and supporting more projects – even internationally,” says Christiane Dolva Törnberg who is Sustainability Manager at Fjällräven.
It all started with Arctic foxes
Those who have followed Fjällräven on social media might have seen pictures of our fieldwork with Arctic foxes, where students from Stockholm University together with Fjällräven volunteers have made inventories of new Arctic fox litters in the Swedish mountains. A summer job with plenty of fresh air for the lucky few and a very tangible example of Fjällräven and Stockholm University’s long-lived cooperation with each other.
Another aspect that is even more important than the volunteer project is that Fjällräven has funded a doctorate position at the Department of Zoology.
“We believe that research and more knowledge are the best ways to preserve Arctic foxes. So our cooperation with the university is important and will also be a part of the Arctic Fox Initiative. We are now continuing our support by funding a new doctorate position for a new four-year period.”
In addition to this, Christiane thinks that it is time to look beyond Scandinavia’s borders. Fjällräven is a global brand, with users all over the world. And even if a strong interest in Scandinavian Arctic foxes exists in many countries, there are other important environmental issues that also deserve attention. And many excellent ideas that need our support.
A more comprehensive hold on the environment
The Arctic Fox Initiative is launching in the spring of 2019 after two years of planning. It will support projects that preserve nature or wildlife and that are either associated with the climate or that facilitate more people in getting outdoors and appreciating nature.
“We know that the more time people spend in nature, the more they care about protecting it. So among the projects nominated we can also see ideas that are all about getting more people to learn about outdoor life,” says Christiane.
An important part of the Arctic Fox Initiative is that everyone who wants to can play a part in deciding which projects will get funding. This will be possible by voting for nominated projects on Fjällräven’s website.
“This year we have been helped by colleagues from all over the world in selecting projects that our customers can vote for, so we have a good geographical spread. But next year, anyone can suggest projects that they think deserve support.”
Plus people who have an environmental project or a good idea will be able to apply for funding from the Arctic Fox Initiative. Christiane tells us that already today, Fjällräven gets a lot of requests for support from various projects. With this new system in place it is going to be much easier to manage these requests well.
“We’ll be able to ask people requesting support to apply to the Arctic Fox Initiative. We’ll say: ‘What a great idea, here is how you can apply for funding.’ From our own perspective, we will have a clearer structure to work with so we can be more professional in dealing with these requests,” says Christiane.
One percent to nature
Timed perfectly with the launch, Fjällräven is introducing a special collection that fits within the framework of the initiative. The idea is that sales from these products – 1% of the sale price to be exact – will make up the base of the fund that will be given to projects.
To create extra interest in the launch, Fjällräven has invited artists who have had their designs printed on the classic Kånken backpack.
“Kånken Art backpacks have been developed specifically for the initiative and we have been lucky enough to have been helped by two exciting artists, Erik Olovsson and Cecilia Heikkilä, who have expressed their relationship with nature by creating two unique backpacks. We think they are going to be really popular,” says Christiane.
In addition, Kånken Art will be part of the Kånken Rainbow collection. And more products will be introduced in the future. The aim is for the Arctic Fox Initiative to develop over time and become much bigger than earlier projects. All for nature, all over the globe.
But does Christiane see any risk of competition from other companies working with similar goodwill initiatives, where users take an active part in deciding where the money will go? “The more companies that run this kind of project, the better it will be for the environment. I don’t see any competition in this. We aren’t the first and this isn’t revolutionary – but I am looking forward to finding good projects that we can support.”
Text: Henrika Lavonius Wike