The Cleanest Line

Weblog for the employees, friends and customers of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. Visit Patagonia.com to see what we do.

RSS Feed

Twitter

    Archives

    Search


    Fishing Waders Trigger Deep Thoughts About Gear Manufacturing

    Copy (2) of logo_RW_creelhawaiicls Our friends over at Recycled Waders have been hard at work finding new uses for some of Patagonia's most hard-to-recycle items. Fishing waders are complex pieces of gear - neoprene feet, water-proof fabrics treated with water-repellent finishes, stretchy shoulder straps, metal snaps and zippers, each of these items adds a layer of complexity to a process we developed originally to recycle simple base-layer garments. Patagonia's front man for all things pertaining the the environmental impact of our raw materials is Todd Copeland. He's been steering our Common Threads program for a while, and was stoked to share this story with us. It comes via Patrick Jenkins, founder of Recycled Waders, a small family operation that's busy building a successful business on three important pillars: Recycled Materials, Repurposed Products, and Responsible Consumers.  

    Background

    Original Action Who would have guessed an errant back cast lodging a 1-0 lead-eye bunny leech in a scraggly black spruce tree on the high bankside of a river mouth full of Alaskan king salmon would have been responsible for the development of a small business? But as luck would have it I scampered  up the bank to retrieve my fly from the black spruce, stepped up on a downed tree to reach my fly, lost my footing and a branch on the tree gauged an enormous hole in my first pair of breathable waders. Hmmmm…..

    [Recycled Waders provides a flat-out better alternative for retired waders: up-cycling them to new hand-sewn gear full of life and character. Photos: Patrick Jenkins, Recycled Waders]

    Continue reading "Fishing Waders Trigger Deep Thoughts About Gear Manufacturing" »

    A Lime with That, Sir? - Transitioning to Waterless Urinals in the Workplace

    Use Water2-1 We got a waterless urinal a couple of months ago here on the second floor of the Crystal Palace at Patagonia HQ. It’s saving a lot of water, but smells a bit unsavory. One guy likened the odor to that of restrooms in bus terminals. Another said it was a Third-World experience without the cultural cross-references.

    I recently sprained my ankle mountain biking and have been icing it at work to reduce the swelling. After my first icing, I dumped the bag of melting ice into the bathroom sink. I know, it was wasteful. But thankfully, a colleague more thoughtful than me took it upon himself to shovel the ice into the waterless urinal.

    It seemed to help with the odor in a way the deodorizing wick and aerosol spray sanitizer that arrived with the waterless did not, so I’ve been dumping subsequent bags (a couple a day) directly into our new pissoir. Someone suggested adding limes to the ice like they do to margaritas – and some urinals – in Mexico. But I think our facilities department would frown on that.

    [All graphics by Cleanest Line reader Michael Buckley. Says Michael, "When I brush my teeth, I try to remind myself to brush like I do when I’m camping (to conserve water). These cards are meant to be printed out and placed where you could use the same reminder." Hit the jump for more.]

    Continue reading "A Lime with That, Sir? - Transitioning to Waterless Urinals in the Workplace" »

    Your Thoughts on the Footprint Chronicles – Why don’t you make more of your goods in the U.S.A.?

    Footprint logo We’ve recently released “What’s Done in Our Name?,” the first in a three-part video series called Work in Progress that examines larger social and environmental issues we grapple with as a company.

    ”What’s Done in Our Name” directly addresses what we do to monitor the labor practices of the overseas factories that make our goods.

    The launch of this video comes at a time when Americans are concerned about the further decline of domestic manufacturing. It should be no surprise that a video focusing on overseas production has sparked a number of customers to ask why we simply don’t make more of our goods in America.

    Below, we highlight one of these e-mails as well as a response from a long-time Patagonia employee familiar with both our history and the source of our values in several key areas: product quality, environmentalism and social responsibility.

    We welcome your contribution to this exchange – as well as other thoughts you have about responsible business practices. It's our hope that as the discussion unfolds it will enrich our continued examination of our corporate life – and help us do what we do better and with less harm to the environment and the social fabric.

    ___________________________________________________________________________

    To: CUSTOMER_SERVICE
    Subject: Comments on the Footprint Chronicles

    Comments:
    Patagonia often touts environmental responsibility and claims to have an environmentally-conscious business model yet virtually every single product that Patagonia sells through its catalog is produced overseas. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of Patagonia customers live in the United States.

    Continue reading "Your Thoughts on the Footprint Chronicles – Why don’t you make more of your goods in the U.S.A.?" »

    My Footprint series - Charting a Course of Questions

    Series intro: Today's citizen is engaged, concerned, and most of all, confident; confident in his or her choice as a consumer, confident in his or her power as an employee, confident that change is possible.

    The Footprint Chronicles were developed to document the changes we’re making as a company to lighten our environmental impact and do less harm. These chronicles are as much an inspiration to Patagonia employees as they are an outgrowth of our personal values. The “My Footprint” series shares the stories of Patagonia friends and employees who have been inspired by the Chronicles, and whose inspiring lives help fuel the vision of what we can do as a company.

    Their stories are offered here, glimpses of individual footprints spotted along the path toward positive change. We invite you to enjoy these personal accounts, and share your own in the Comments section included with these posts.

    __________________________________________________________

    My footprint is etched cleanly in the soft earth near a thundering creek. It's the latest addition to a chaotic, muddy mash of lug-soled prints pointing in all directions. Looking up from this confused circle, I can trace the tracks, see that they lead tentatively toward each point of the compass. The prints tell a story of a group that struggled to find its way, and I can't blame them. The people who made those tracks are my students, and I confiscated their maps before they left camp this morning. But there is one main track leading off from the center, the path it traces sure and deep. The feet that made it moved with purpose in a common direction.

    Continue reading "My Footprint series - Charting a Course of Questions" »

    Earth Day and the New Footprint Chronicles

    Homepage 1

    Happy Earth Day to the Cleanest Line masses. Today we launched a new version of the Footprint Chronicles, the place where we share information on how and where our products are manufactured, what the environmental costs are and how we think the process can be improved.

    There are a number of new features in today's Footprint update but the highlight is a documentary short our video team produced on social responsibility and offshore manufacturing. Entitled What's Done in Our Name?, the 15-minute video is the first in a three-part series investigating the issues of social and environmental responsibility and product quality.

    Watch What's Done in Our Name?

    Make the jump for a full list of features we added to the new Footprint Chronicles and a few words about some special guests who visited Patagonia today.

    Continue reading "Earth Day and the New Footprint Chronicles" »

    My Footprint series- Setting an Example with Trims and Samples

    Series intro: Today's citizen is engaged, concerned, and most of all, confident; confident in his or her choice as a consumer, confident in his or her power as an employee, confident that change is possible.

    The Footprint Chronicles were developed to document the changes we’re making as a company to lighten our environmental impact and do less harm. These chronicles are as much an inspiration to Patagonia employees as they are an outgrowth of our personal values. The “My Footprint” series shares the stories of Patagonia friends and employees who have been inspired by the Chronicles, and whose inspiring lives help fuel the vision of what we can do as a company.

    Their stories are offered here, glimpses of individual footprints spotted along the path toward positive change. We invite you to enjoy these personal accounts, and share your own in the Comments section included with these posts.
    __________________________________________________________

    Chris Two. Hundred. Thousand. Miles. If you’re an astronaut, that translates to a one-way ticket to the moon or about 8 trips around the Earth at the equator. Barring shuttle pilots, mileage like that demands respect. Car owners boast when their odometers coast into 6-digit territory. With the average American annually clocking just over 12,000 miles behind the wheel, 200K means 16+ years of driving. As someone who’s racked up 200,000 miles on his daily bike commute, Chris Carroll knows what each of those miles feel like. It makes him just the person you want to talk to when the subject turns to how small things, steadily accumulated, can add up to impressive results.

    Chris is responsible for managing the warehousing and distribution of the various trims used on Patagonia garments. His Trims Department manages a staggering array of items: buttons, zippers, and snaps in colors to match virtually every Patagonia garment ever made; strips of elastic fabric for every arm, leg, waist, and hem of every sweater, jacket, and piece of Capilene® made over the decades; hook-and-loop closures for sleeves, luggage, messenger bags. And then there’s the easy-to-overlook things, things like size tags, clothing care tags, and of course, every version of the Patagonia label one can recall.

    [Chris Carroll pedals past pallets holding a very small portion of the total number of "trims" needed for just one season's line of products. Photo: Lloyd Stradley]

    Continue reading "My Footprint series- Setting an Example with Trims and Samples" »

    My Footprint series - A Word on Spreading the Word

    Series intro: Today's citizen is engaged, concerned, and most of all, confident; confident in his or her choice as a consumer, confident in his or her power as an employee, confident that change is possible.

    The Footprint Chronicles were developed to document the changes we’re making as a company to lighten our environmental impact and do less harm. These chronicles are as much an inspiration to Patagonia employees as they are an outgrowth of our personal values. The “My Footprint” series shares the stories of Patagonia friends and employees who have been inspired by the Chronicles, and whose inspiring lives help fuel the vision of what we can do as a company.

    Their stories are offered here, glimpses of individual footprints spotted along the path toward positive change. We invite you to enjoy these personal accounts, and share your own in the Comments section included with these posts.
    __________________________________________________________

    Liz - seedlings [Ed note: Everyone concerned with the state of the environment has their coming-of -consciousness story. Psychologist Elizabeth Mosco has worked for years on motivating people to make positive changes in their lives. Here, she turns the lens on herself. Her account of living with a "green" significant other, Patagonia Web Editor Mike Colpo, graciously offers some insights about her own transformation from eco-nightmare to composting queen. Enjoy reading about Dr. Mosco's footprint, and remember to click the "About" section if interested in submitting your own.]

    When I first met the environmentalist in my life, I was an eco-conscious individual’s nightmare. I remember him glancing in my trash can as he threw something away and I cringed at the number of plastic bottles and aluminum cans staring him in the face. He used to leave our empty wine bottles on the counter of my kitchen, likely hoping a recycle bin would materialize for them, but I would just throw the bottles out when he left. He would use my fluoride-laden toothpaste in my bleach-scrubbed bathroom with petroleum candles burning. He saw me make multiple car rides to the supermarket—well within walking distance—for one or two items. He watched me exterminate all excess veggie matter in the garbage disposal. Here was my new boyfriend, freshly back from four weeks in the wilderness and ready to go back to his enviro-friendly job at Patagonia. And here was me, wantonly creating waste without a thought in the world to do anything but chuck it in the trash can. Looking back, I am struck by one very simple thing Mike did, something that has changed the way I look at waste, environmentally-friendly products, and life…he said nothing.

    [Liz tending the season's first seedlings, which will soon receive a fresh helping of homemade compost.]

    Continue reading "My Footprint series - A Word on Spreading the Word" »

    My Footprint series - Shipping to a Lesser Footprint

    A new citizen is emerging. That citizen is engaged, concerned, and most of all, confident; confident in his or her choice as a consumer, confident in his or her power as an employee, confident that change is possible.

    The Footprint Chronicles were developed to document the changes we’re making as a company to lighten our environmental impact and do less harm. These chronicles are as much an inspiration to Patagonia employees as they are an outgrowth of our personal values. The “My Footprint” series shares the stories of Patagonia employees who have been inspired by the Chronicles, and whose inspiring lives help fuel the vision of what we can do as a company.

    Their stories are offered here, glimpses of individual footprints spotted along the path toward positive change.  We invite you to enjoy these personal accounts, and share your own in the Comments section included with these posts.

    __________________________________________________________

    Making changes around the workplace that put a dent in a company’s environmental footprint takes creativity, persistence and flexibility … and a culture that allows – and even encourages – employees to question business as usual. That culture definitely exists at Patagonia.

    Teampic 008 Although it can sometimes bog decisions down, we recently saw the benefits when Patagonia Sourcing Manager Marjorie Leigh asked Contract Manager Oscar Cobian to look into the possibility of importing finished garments from Costa Rica to Ventura by ship instead of plane.

    “We have these two big ports nearby, so why not try to use them?” Oscar said.

    Following a tip about Port Hueneme in nearby Oxnard, Oscar called and was put in contact with Del Monte. He found out that the company ships bananas from Costa Rica, but that their containers were returning empty. The new possibilities got colleagues interested, and Oscar, Marjorie and Contract Manager Leticia Penaloza all went down to the port to check things out.

    [PHOTO (from left to right): Marjorie Leigh, Leticia Penaloza and Oscar Cobian. LUZ RULE] 

    Continue reading "My Footprint series - Shipping to a Lesser Footprint" »

    Closing the Loop - A Report on Patagonia's Common Threads Garment Recycling Program

    Common_threads_1 In Fall 2005, when we launched our new line of recyclable Capilene® Performance Base Layer garments, we also announced a five-year goal to make all Patagonia products recyclable through our new Common Threads Garment Recycling Program. This program invites customers to return used-up clothing and delivers the retired garments to a fiber manufacturer that uses those items to make new products. As we near 2010, the five-year window for our goal has shrunk to one and a half years. Will we meet the goal? This report discusses the progress we've made - and steps we have yet to take. 

    Closed-Loop Recycling in Context

    It is important to remember that Common Threads is a key - but single - component of Patagonia's efforts to reduce our environmental footprint. In addition to garment recycling, we choose — where possible — raw materials (aka "e-Fibers”) that cause less environmental harm than do their conventional or non-recycled counterparts. We became a bluesign® brand member to encourage our fabric suppliers to reduce their resource consumption and better manage toxic chemicals. Through our Web mini-site, The Footprint Chronicles, we track, measure and report the environmental impacts of the many products we make. We build everything to high quality standards, with the idea that the best products simply last longer and require less-frequent replacement. We design clothing that retains its appeal for many years, not in-and-out fashion trends that end up abandoned in a closet. Also, we encourage consumers to wear out our products - or give them to someone who can. Even our retail stores will sometimes repatriate clothing donated to the Common Threads Recycling Program to local nonprofits, if the stuff still has wear and life in it. If, after a lifetime of use, a garment can be reused or handed-down no more, we provide Common Threads as a final destination, so that worn, used, and abused products can be recycled and made into new garments.      

    Continue reading "Closing the Loop - A Report on Patagonia's Common Threads Garment Recycling Program" »

    My Footprint series - Grow with the Flow

    Series intro: A new citizen is emerging. That citizen is engaged, concerned, and most of all, confident; confident in his or her choice as a consumer, confident in his or her power as an employee, confident that change is possible.

    The Footprint Chronicles were developed to document the changes we’re making as a company to lighten our environmental impact and do less harm. These chronicles are as much an inspiration to Patagonia employees as they are an outgrowth of our personal values. The “My Footprint” series shares the stories of Patagonia employees who have been inspired by the Chronicles, and whose inspiring lives help fuel the vision of what we can do as a company.

    Their stories are offered here, glimpses of individual footprints spotted along the path toward positive change.  We invite you to enjoy these personal accounts, and share your own in the Comments section included with these posts.
    __________________________________________________________

    Lines [Ed note: This installment comes from a local Ventura canoe paddler; someone whose time on the water has influenced their concern for water resources. Faced with a different set of problems than our previous contributor, the solution outlined below is a do-it-yourself inspiration. Enjoy reading this footprint, and remember to click the "About" section if interested in submitting your own.]

    Our family had long considered doing something to solve both the problem of old plumbing running over from our laundry, and needing to water our large backyard — adding a greywater system to the washing machine seemed the obvious solution. Our laundry room is in the back of the house, conveniently perched at the top of a hill above the backyard. A simple water-diversion scheme for the laundry's greywater made a great deal of sense.

    [Looking more elaborate than it is, a simple valve system controls which portion of the yard receives irrigation through a newly installed greywater system. Photo: tps]

    Continue reading "My Footprint series - Grow with the Flow" »

    One Percent for the Planet
    © 2014 Patagonia, Inc.