Patagonia Encourages Customers to Buy Less of Their Product. Fashionable? Oh Yes!

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What does a “fashion week”, in any part of the world usually ring in? The latest trends of the season and the call for “throw out the old and bring in the new”. But not for Patagonia, the world-leader in sustainable outdoor clothing and gear.

At the recently concluded NY fashion week, Patagonia introduced its radical “Common Threads Initiative” that aims to reduce unwanted consumption and give the planet’s vital systems a rest from pollution, resource depletion and greenhouse gases. They invite customers to take a pledge that is two-fold,

Patagonia on its end agrees to build useful things that last, to repair what breaks and recycle what comes to the end of its useful life.
Consumers, fulfilling their part of the pledge agree to buy only what they need (that will last), repair what breaks, reuse (share) what they no longer need and recycle everything else.

Patagonia’s Radical Program- Use Less, Buy Less

The Common Threads Program is multifold with Patagonia pledging to Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle and Reimagine their products. Their business does the unimaginable by requesting customers to only buy what they need and actually encourage the repair of its gear, if damaged. They not only preach but practice by providing the necessary infrastructure to support their initiatives.
The company realizes that there cannot be “real” reduced impact is there is no reduction in use or consumption, however eco-friendly their products are. They realize the simple rule that- we can never make an environmental impact at the same rate of consumption. This realization is very hard for companies to swallow especially in times of recession and economic woes, but is one to consider for an effective social and environmental strategy. As Andrew Winston, co-author of the prominent book, Green to Gold points out, that there is real wisdom in encouraging your customers to buy less of your product

Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder and owner, said in a prepared statement,

“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.”

The most striking part of this initiative is the fact that Patagonia encourages you to sell your used clothing on their site or ebay and also buy used!

“Nothing wearable should be hoarded; useful things should be in circulation. Reuse what you no longer need, whether you’ve given up climbing or no longer wear brown. Donate unused clothing to a charity or sell them through the Patagonia Common Threads Initiative site on eBay or on our website, (where you can also buy used rather than new, eBay handles the purchase).”

Annie Leonard, author of ‘The Story of Stuff’ had some glowing words for Patagonia,

Recycling is what we do when we’re out of options to avoid, repair, or reuse the product first. That’s why I am so impressed with Patagonia for starting its Common Threads Initiative with the real solution: Reduce. Don’t buy what we don’t need. Repair: Fix stuff that still has life in it. Reuse: Share. Then, only when you’ve exhausted those options, recycle.

I would say Patagonia has made a very fashionable statement? Will you agree?


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