The Cleanest Line

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    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.

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    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.
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    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.
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    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.

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    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.
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    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" »

    My Footprint series - Mindin' the Toilet

    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 included with these posts.
    __________________________________________________________
    Becca2
    [Ed note: The following contribution to the "My Footprint" series comes from regular Cleanest Line contributor, Fitz Cahall, of Dirtbag Diaries fame. While not a Patagonia employee, Fitz was too excited not to share. Enjoy reading his footprint, and remember to click the "About" section if interested in submitting your own.]

    Our hot water heater takes a while to get going. The first time we took a shower in our current home, we watched cold water pour out of the tap. We watched some more, testing the stream with outstretched fingers. Still cold. It took at least two or three minutes to reach lukewarm.

    My wife, Becca, came up with the strategy, and then, because I am a well-trained husband, I religiously followed suit.

    Continue reading "My Footprint series - Mindin' the Toilet" »

    My Footprint - When the Light Went Out

    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 included with these posts.
    __________________________________________________________

    Img_2243_2 The first of my compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL) went dark the other night. No warning, no light. I unscrewed it, shook it and screwed it back in.

    Nothing.

    It was disappointing. I was an early adopter of CFLs (back in the dark days before WalMart decided to sell ‘em cheap to popularize their use) and that bulb was kinda pricey. But at the time I figured it was worth it given it would last up to 15,000 hours. This one lasted maybe 15.   

    I was using it in a bathroom fixture above the mirror. It took three of these pigtailed double helixes to adequately light the area, and their harsh light made looking in the mirror even more horrific than usual. But in the name of energy efficiency, I chose “the right thing” over my cosmetic insecurities and my wife’s entreaties to return to the soft, soothing glow of incandescence.

    [The black hole in my bathroom. Photo: Jim]

    Continue reading "My Footprint - When the Light Went Out" »

    Shopping Consciously for the Holidays

    Nicole Bassett is Patagonia's Social Responsibility Manager. As such, she is charged with traveling the world to visit our factories and verify the integrity of their manufacturing process. Thanks to her unique expertise, she gets peppered with questions from people eager to spend their dollars in the most beneficial way possible. In today's post, Nicole shares socially responsible shopping tips for the remainder of your holiday season.

    As a Patagonia Social Responsibility Manager, I routinely review factory working conditions. I have been asked a lot of questions lately by friends looking to buy their Christmas presents, questions like: "Is it OK to buy from Company X?" or "What are the working conditions like at Company Y?"

    It is great to hear from people who want to put their money toward companies that care about the working conditions and the health of the workers who make their products. These are good questions since there are a lot of companies that have great programs and are really making a difference. There are also other companies that at least monitor their supply chains. Then, unfortunately, there are brands that do nothing at all. Figuring all of this out takes some work. Each dollar we spend in the market is a vote of support to this brand or that brand.

    So what's my response to my friends?  I would like to share it with you:

    Continue reading "Shopping Consciously for the Holidays" »

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