Listen, I LOVE Patagonia outdoor gear and clothing, though I almost certainly wouldn’t dish out the premium prices if it weren’t for several factors:
- They use recycled materials whenever possible
- They use organic cotton
- They make their clothing to last so that it doesn’t need to be replaced nearly as often
Just this morning, on my bicycle ride to work, I wore Patagonia shoes that have a 70% recycled cork footbed and 100% recycled insole; blue jeans made from 100% organic cotton, which I bought used; and a jacket made with recycled plastic soda bottles.
All excellent supply-side sustainability measures, for sure, but today’s Celebrating Eco-Progress installment looks at how Patagonia is one of the few companies out there addressing the consumption side of the sustainability equation.
One such challenge around changing consumption is how to extend the use phase of the lifecycle. An inspiring prototype comes in Patagonia’s Common Threads initiative, which allows customers to sell used Patagonia products through eBay.
It’s a powerful testament to the apparel’s key brand attributes of quality and high performance, but it also carries the idea beyond just extending the use phase of the lifecycle: It’s about creating and extending product narratives that enhance the value of the goods for consumers and the brand simultaneously — now, goods that previously were discarded or remained dormant in storage become active reinvigorations of the company’s products.
According to Patagonia’s Common Threads website:
- The population of the United States discards 11.9 million tons of clothing, shoes, and textiles per year.
- Since 2005, we’ve taken back 45 tons of clothing for recycling and made 34 tons into new clothes.
Now, one thing the GreenBiz.com article overlooks is that Patagonia is really just riffing off an idea that’s been around for many, many years. Used clothing and gear stores, either of the thrift or consignment variety, have extended the lifespan of many tons of clothing, shoes, and textiles, not to mention many other household items.
The Patagonia innovation that is cause for celebration, however, is the wide-scale collection of used product by the producer in order to reuse as much of the material as possible.
THAT is cool!