The Cleanest Line

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    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" »

    My Footprint - Ode to a Dead Volvo

    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.
    __________________________________________________________

    He was a 1989 Volvo station wagon, silver gray, turbo. We bought him used, one owner, in 1995, for $12,000 and we were lucky. We had another Volvo at home, a snappy red 850 (1993) who had a kind of Viking joie de vivre, if Scandinavians can be said to have joy in life. We named her Freya. When we brought the station wagon home it was clear he was more patient, less a Viking than a modern Swede, a socialist perhaps, and so we named him Oskar.

    Oskar was my car. The first time he and I went on a longish trip, it was from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles with a friend in heavy rain. We hit rush hour traffic on the Pasadena Freeway, an elderly roadway of narrow lanes and bad curves, and Oskar drove like a draft horse, pushing his chest through the squalls and the waves from trucks, mowing his way past drowned sports cars.

    He was comfortable. His leather seats were high, and reclined, like Eames chairs. When I drove him north to San Francisco the first time with another friend, she said, “It’s like driving in a living room.”

    Continue reading "My Footprint - Ode to a Dead Volvo" »

    My Footprint - All That Rots

    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.

    __________________________________________________________

    1cafe We have a café here at Patagonia HQ in Ventura that serves breakfast and lunch to some 150-200 employees and visitors. Along with daily entrees, we have a full salad bar with largely organic fixings. Food-prep and plate-scrapings at the Lost Arrow Café generate about 50 lbs. of veggie refuse a week. Rather than throw it away, we compost it.

    2nick_kitchen Some afternoons, Nick Velasquez, one of the creative geniuses in the kitchen, partners with Kevin Dee, another environmentally minded employee who makes clothing in our sample room. The two wheel a big bucket of veggie scraps, coffee grounds, spent paper napkins, eggshells and other compostables across the parking lot to our on-site bin. Ours is a custom-built container made of plastic wood - which doesn't warp as readily as the real stuff - wire and corrugated tin. It has three compartments: a starter, middle and finish.

    [Top: The Lost Arrow Café at Patagonia HQ serves up tasty, mostly organic goodness every day. Right: Nick Velasquez preparing delectables. Photos: Jim Little]

    Continue reading "My Footprint - All That Rots" »

    Patagonia Receives FLA Accreditation

    Footprint_2 Patagonia is proud to announce that as of October, 2008, we have become a fully accredited member of the Fair Labor Association.  While Patagonia was a founding member and active participating company in the Fair Labor Association since 1999, it was not until last month that we received the distinction of full accreditation. To achieve this honor, we adhere to the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct and ten company obligations. This includes carrying out a rigorous internal monitoring program executed by Patagonia, as well as submitting to unannounced, Independent External Monitoring audits of up to 5% of our factories each year. The FLA posts the results of its random audits on its website for everyone to see as part of its commitment to transparency.

    Picture_2 To achieve accreditation, Patagonia's program was reviewed by FLA staff to ensure the implementation of the required obligations for a participating company.  This gives a new level of creditability to our program as well as provides us guidelines for further improvement.  We are incredibly excited here at Patagonia to receive this accreditation as it is a culmination of the hard work of a lot of people in the company. Patagonia embeds social responsibility into the sourcing and production of its materials and products. We have made some changes in the past year to strengthen this integration. Factories must be reviewed to see if they are able to meet our social standards before we will place production there.


    [A modern-day Chinese clothing factory. Photo: Nicole Bassett.]

    Continue reading "Patagonia Receives FLA Accreditation" »

    Country of Origin Information Available Online

    Footprint In early July of 2008 we announced the release of our factory list, available from the Leading the Examined Life portion of our site. As the post states, this was a big step for us. The Footprint Chronicles is our opportunity to maintain a higher level of transparency in our corporate practice. They were launched in the belief that within today’s corporate sustainability revolution lie some compelling stories, and that corporations themselves cannot be relied upon to always know which stories need to be told. The Footprint Chronicles provide an opening for more direct communication with customers. They are our chance both to tell what we are doing and to learn—from you—what it is we must do next.

    The publication of our factory list provides a perfect example of this process. Making our factory list public directly addressed customer concerns about Patagonia’s adherence to socially responsible manufacturing. But it opened the door for the next big question, "If Patagonia is looking for full transparency, why not publish the country of origin for each product in the printed and on-line catalogs?"

    We're happy to announce that we're doing exactly that. Hit the jump to find out more.

    Continue reading "Country of Origin Information Available Online" »

    Patagonia's Factory List

    Factory_shotIf you visit the Leading the Examined Life section of Patagonia.com, you'll notice we recently published the list of contract factories that cut and sew Patagonia product. This action got me thinking about our mission statement – "Make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis." – for it was the inspiration of other companies that helped Patagonia implement solutions this time.

    While there are a number of brands that have published their factory lists, Patagonia took its inspiration from two companies in particular: Nike and Levi’s. It is probably strange to some that Patagonia is taking cues from such large companies. However, both Nike and Levi’s have long standing CSR programs and have been publishing their factory lists for a number of years now. And, well, if they can do it, shouldn’t we?

    Continue reading "Patagonia's Factory List" »

    Your Thoughts on the Footprint Chronicles - All Just Eco Fluff?

    Footprint_2 Our Footprint Chronicles have generated a wide range of feedback. We've received a whole raft of incisive questions that have sent us scurrying off to do more homework. We've received some praise, most recently in the form of the "People's Voice" award in the 2008 Webbys. And we've received some criticism.

    We're grateful for all of the comments -- good and bad. The Footprint Chronicles was created to be a dialog, and toward this end, our Vice President of Marketing, Rob Bon Durant offers this response to one of the increasingly common criticisms being sent our way:

    We created the Footprint Chronicles to offer our customers a behind-the-curtain view, to shine a light in the dark belly of the whale. In the Chronicles, we look at both the good and, more importantly, the bad of our current environmental and social manufacturing practices. We hold no secrets, we are transparent in every way that we can conceive. We've had a number of customer responses to the Chronicles.

    Among the responses was this one: "Boy do you guys ever do a good job trying to paint a positive picture of your company. Why don't you just admit that your supreme aim is to make as much money as possible and all this eco stuff is fluff?"

    I oversee Marketing and Communications here at Patagonia and I'd  like to answer that one directly: 

    Continue reading "Your Thoughts on the Footprint Chronicles - All Just Eco Fluff?" »

    Winner - Five Words for the Webby Awards

    Img_4359_2 After considering all of the great suggestions you folks submitted, Bill gave the following acceptance speech at this year's Webby Awards in New York City:

    "November 4th, Vote the Environment"

    That means the winner of The Cleanest Line T-shirt is ... rob! We asked rob to share a little bit about himself:

    I am just a regular guy who is working hard to ensure that my boys' best memories of youth will include a healthy dose of the outdoors, and hopefully a passion for activities that involve a board and water/snow. Thanks to the crew at Patagonia for creating gear that won't feel like hand me down after it's been handed down!

    Congratulations rob, and thanks for the timely suggestion. We've said it before and you'll hear it again, voting is one of the simplest forms of direct action one can take on behalf of the environment. The election this November will have a dramatic impact on the future health of our planet. It's time to make the environment a high-profile issue in the debates between the candidates at all levels of government. We hope you'll join us in spreading this simple but important message.

    Check out the full list of Webby Award speeches if you're curious what the other winners had to say. Our thanks go out to everyone who participated in the contest. We hope to do more of these in the future so stay tuned.

    [They don't call it "the Oscars of the Internet" for nothing. Red carpet interviews in front of the Cipriani Wall St. New York, New York. Photo: Bill Boland]

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