On Thursday, June 20, Zeal Optics held a very special dinner to unveil a new initiative to help reforest part of the Rocky Mountains near its Boulder, Colorado headquarters.
In partnership with American Forests, Zeal is rolling out Project 5480 and will be planting 5,480 trees in the first year of the program with the goal of continuing this annually to create a Zeal forest in Colorado as part of its Grounded initiative.
“We are excited to plant a Zeal forest,” said President John Sanchez about the project, whose name comes from the elevation of Zeal’s offices. “We believe in doing our part so that the images of the forests we put in our ads, catalogs and our marketing materials are around for generations to come. Someday I want to walk our customers, friends and my family through these forests.”
The idea came about after seeing the devastation that pine beetles have wrought across Zeal’s home state. Over the last decade-plus, the beetles, which were historically dormant in the winter months due to cold temperatures, have remained active year round and are decimating the Rocky Mountains’ lodgepole pine forests, completely altering the range’s ecosystem and exposing the area to severe fire risk due to the massive expanses of standing dead trees. The beetles are estimated to have killed more than 70% of Colorado’s 1.5 million acres of lodgepole forests and are expected to finish their work, leaving an area the size of Rhode Island barren in their wake.
Zeal has been supporting harvesting the dead trees to mitigate fire risk by using beetle kill wood in its packaging, optics fixtures, and office space and decided to take things to the next level with Project 5480.
The brand announced the new project by bringing a diverse group of journalists to a trailhead outside Boulder for a short hike through a valley that had been clear cut due to beetle kill. The hike wound over a ridge providing a disturbing panorama of just how vast the area was, before descending into a meadow surround by dense forests, giving a glimpse of Zeal’s vision for returning some of the impacted areas to their former state.
Over an amazing farm-to-table dinner prepared by Chef Hosea Rosenberg, winner of Top Chef and owner of Blackbelly Catering, Zeal CEO John Sanchez shared his vision for Project 5480 and for the company’s position in the community as live blue grass wafted up to the stars and the moon rose through the branches of the remaining trees in the area.
“What we want is to build sunglasses and ski goggles that enhance outdoor experiences,” Sanchez explained. “That can’t happen if we don’t do our part to rebuild the playing field where these experiences take place. We share our vision with others and the message is simple. There are plenty of branded eyewear options out there. When you partner with Zeal, you are helping build a brand, a forest, an adventure day for underprivileged youth, a spa day for a cancer patient, and more. In short I use a tree as an illustration for our brand. As we grow, new branches form and our size above ground represents the company’s market growth but what people can’t see is that our roots are growing at the same length. Our social and ecological responsibility initiatives will keep us deeply rooted, humble, and ‘grounded.’ This is what will make us strong and keep us in the market forever as a very unique brand of optics.”
Big thanks to Zeal for a special night and their bigger ideas on the role of business in today’s world.