Friday, September 9, 2011

Patagonia's Common Threads Initiative

There's been a lot of rain this week, and just the other day I was admiring my Patagonia raincoat thinking how I should purchase more clothes from them. They've been ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainability. If you go to their website the second tab in the navigation bar is called "Environmentalism."
So it was something of a coincidence that my friend Rachel sent me this yesterday, an email about a new eco initiative from Patagonia, one that encourages consumers to buy only things they need, to use what they buy for a long time, and to repair things if they break. Here is a bit more about the Common Threads Initiative...
Patagonia's Common Threads Initiative – a partnership with its customers to reduce consumption and its resultant environmental harm.

“The Common Threads Initiative addresses a significant part of today’s environmental problem – the footprint of our stuff,” notes Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder and owner. “This program first asks customers to not buy something if they don’t need it. If they do need it, we ask that they buy what will last a long time – and to repair what breaks, reuse or resell whatever they don’t wear any more. And, finally, recycle whatever’s truly worn out. We are the first company to ask customers to take a formal pledge and be partners in the effort to reduce consumption and keep products out of the landfill or incinerator.”

Patagonia in turn commits to make products that last and help repair quickly anything that breaks. To help customers put back in circulation used clothes, Patagonia and eBay Inc. have joined forces to launch a new marketplace for customers to buy and sell used Patagonia gear. Patagonia’s Common Threads Initiative store on eBay establishes a new model for consumption: It marks the first time a major retail brand actively encourages its customers to buy and sell used products on eBay, and it is eBay’s first multi-seller branded store.

The collaboration between Patagonia and eBay was born out of their common interest to extend the useful life of products. eBay, the world’s largest online marketplace, has, over the past year, developed innovative new initiatives that extend the impact of its inherently sustainable business model. The eBay Box, launched as a pilot in September 2010, encourages buyers and sellers to reuse packaging; and eBay Instant Sale, launched in October 2010, encourages customers to sell and/or recycle their used electronics. The Patagonia Common Threads store on eBay becomes not only the latest example of eBay’s commitment to sustainable commerce, but a new model for consumption within the apparel industry – one that emphasizes product, reuse, and tapping the full useful life of clothing.

I really respect Patagonia's environmentalism, and I think the Common Threads Initiative is exactly the kind of thing we need to see from more brands. It's just hard because from the brand's perspective they are essentially saying "don't buy a lot of our clothes." What I hope is that consumers will see the honor in that. They are not only refusing to cave to the fast fashion ideology, but they are also standing behind their products... Essentially saying, yes it's made well, and it's going to last a long time, so please use it for as long as you can. 

No comments:

Post a Comment