by Lisa Polley
As an employee of Patagonia for the past 12 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work on many projects. Some of these have been interesting, some just a necessary part of my job. Never have I experienced a project with such a direct impact on the company, on its employees and on myself as The Footprint Chronicles website.
It’s given me hope about the future for the first time in longer than I care to admit.
The epiphany that inspired this hope came during data entry. Sometimes the process of change starts in the mundane, and growth occurs at the oddest, unexpected moments. Anyone who’s filled a database knows that the task is not hard, but it requires headphones and very loud music. My task was to enter the data that would be used to geo-locate points on a Google map so we could show our supply chain online.
[Above: Seeing Patagonia suppliers pinned on a world map, one of the new additions to The Footprint Chronicles. Screengrab: Patagonia.com]
Continue reading "Introducing the New Footprint Chronicles on Patagonia.com" »
by Annie Leonard
A few years ago I bought a cheap portable radio for $4.99 to listen to the news while I walk to work. Soon after, one of the earphone buds broke. No problem, I thought – I’ll just fix it using parts from my drawer of other broken electronics. No such luck: the whole radio, including the earphones, was in one piece, connected without screws or snaps, so that if any one part broke it couldn’t be repaired. For less than 5 dollars, Radio Shack knew, I’d find it easier to buy a new one.
I call making a radio – or any other product – that can’t be repaired ‘design for the dump.’ Designers call it planned obsolescence and it’s at the heart of the take-make-waste system that’s trashing the planet, our communities and our health.
You see, while we’re all pretty familiar with the three ‘R’s’ – reduce, reuse, recycle – many of us, including many product designers and manufacturers, give short shrift to the fourth ‘R’: repair. Before recycling comes repair.
Continue reading "Let’s Bring Back Repair" »
About once a week, one of our stores or our customer service receives a question about the manufacturing of Patagonia clothing: Where do you make your clothes? Are they made in China? Why? Why don’t make you make them here in the United States? What are the conditions inside your factories?
We thought it would be helpful if we shared a lengthy post, with links to more information.
First, Patagonia doesn’t own farms, mills, or factories. Yet what is done in our name is not invisible to us. We are responsible for all the workers who make our goods and for all that goes into a piece of clothing that bears a Patagonia label.
It took us a long time to ask ourselves what we owe people who work for others in our supply chain. We had high sewing standards, even for casual sportswear, and exacting standards for technical clothes. To meet quality requirements, our production staff had always been drawn to clean, well-lighted factories that employed experienced sewing operators. Although we had always bargained with our factories over price and terms, we never chased lowest-cost labor.
Continue reading "Patagonia Clothing: Made Where? How? Why?" »
by Fitz Cahall
Over five years things change. And yet they don’t.
That was the thought that ran through my head. I sat on top of a spare tire in the back of my truck that I used to call home. Becca sat in the front seat calming our six-week-old child. We were still dressed in our touring gear. It was nuking two inches of snow an hour.
Behind us sat our 13-foot, 1976 Scamp travel trailer that we painstakingly refurbished over the last year and a half. The carbon monoxide alarm had triggered minutes earlier. Three feet of snow covered the propane safety valve. Gas leaked into the cramped space. We fled into the night and the relative comfort of the truck. We couldn’t move the trailer or the truck if we wanted to. There was simply too much snow. I drank a beer because there didn’t seem to be anything I could really do in the situation. We were safe. Rattled, but safe. Five years earlier I couldn’t have imagined this moment.
[Above: The maiden voyage of the Scamp. Photo: Becca Cahall]
The idea was simple. When it snowed we would simply migrate our small family to the mountains so we could be the people we wanted to be – skiers and climbers. We were carving out our vision of life in the mountains. This is our version of the cleanest line. At the moment, it wasn’t pretty. We were cold. We were wet. We were tired. It’s the story of my mountain life. The only thing that was different was that we were three instead of two. That’s a monumental change and yet it isn’t. The only path forward for us is remaining true to our core DNA.
Continue reading "High Five - Celebrating the Fifth Anniversary of The Cleanest Line [Updated]" »
Want to know what's up with this ad? Continue reading to learn why we don't use bamboo fabrics in our wetsuits.
Continue reading "Claim It: There is No Green Wetsuit" »
In April 2011, we posted here a report on problems we’ve experienced sourcing down for our down clothing. As we mentioned, quality is not the problem. We’re proud of the down clothing we make. The designs are simple and beautiful, the fabrics are strong and lightweight, and the quality (fill-power or insulation value) of the down is excellent. The sales are important to us – and one percent of those sales contribute a significant chunk of change to environmental causes.
Lesen Sie hier die deutsche Version dieses Artikels (Read the German version of this article).
Down clothes are tricky to make in two ways: Special care has to be taken to safeguard workers who fill and sew the garments. Anyone who has worked with down knows that it is lighter than feathers and resistant to gravity. Down rooms have to be sealed off from other areas and workers have to wear masks to keep from inhaling the fiber. We have worked with our factories to ensure healthy conditions for people who work with down.
The second area of concern is treatment of the geese. You have to go deep into the supply chain from sewing factory to down vendor to processor before you finally get to a farm. And a single goose can spend its life on four different farms. This complexity is also true of other products involving animals, including shoes and wool and sweaters.
Continue reading "The Lowdown on Down: An Update" »
We’re honored to report that The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival has awarded Unexpected: Thirty Years of Patagonia Catalog Photography its “Best Book – Mountain Image” award for 2011. Unusual for a business enterprise, Patagonia’s catalog devotes half its space to editorial content — environmental and sport essays and extraordinary photographs of wild places and active pursuits. Jane Sievert and Jennifer Ridgeway, Patagonia’s current and founding photo editor, respectively, have been calling, and culling, the shots for three decades. Unexpected is their compendium of most compelling photos the company has published, and a celebration of wilderness and outdoor-sport photography as an art and a practice. On behalf of the company, Jane, Jennifer and designer Annette Scheid accepted the award in Banff on November 3.
Make the jump for more on the book from the Banff judges and to hear an interview with Bernadette McDonald whose book, Freedom Climbers, won the Grand Prize.
Continue reading ""Unexpected" from Patagonia Books Wins Prestigious Banff Award " »
“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.” –Annie Leonard, author of The Story of Stuff
In the 18th century Lancashire's cotton mills and the budding clothing trade helped fuel the Industrial Revolution and create the modern economy. Now it's time to reverse the engines – to help create the next, more sustainable economy. Today, we are pleased to announce the launch of our Common Threads Initiative: a partnership between our customers, eBay and Patagonia to make, buy and use clothes more sustainably, with the ultimate aim of keeping the clothes we sell from ever reaching the landfill.
Continue reading "Introducing the Common Threads Initiative - Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle, Reimagine" »