The Cleanest Line

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    Wooly in Patagonia

    by Jim Little, Patagonia Creative Services

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    We have some great benefits at Patagonia. But none is better than the opportunity to volunteer with environmental groups through our internship program. During my 15 years working as an editor here at our headquarters in Ventura, I’ve gotten to follow wild buffalo in West Yellowstone, see the effects of industrial forestry in Chile, learn about the sagebrush environment in northern Nevada, and most recently, spend two weeks in Patagonia, Argentina, working with The Nature Conservancy on its grasslands project.

    Sheep ranching is the most prevalent land use in the Patagonia region, which is three times the size of California and mostly privately owned. Overgrazing is turning its grasslands into desert. To reverse the degradation, preserve biodiverstiy and freshwater resources, Patagonia has partnered with The Nature Conservancy and Ovis XXI, an Argentine company that manages and develops a network of wool producers.

    [Above: A gaucho and his border collie head to their flock.]

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    What We Do For a Living - An Excerpt from "The Responsible Company"

    by Yvon Chouinard & Vincent Stanley

    New PictureWe are still in the earliest stages of learning how what we do for a living both threatens nature and fails to meet our deepest human needs. The impoverishment of our world and the devaluing of the priceless undermine our physical and economic well-being.

    Yet the depth and breadth of technological innovation of the past few decades shows that we have not lost our most useful gifts: humans are ingenious, adaptive, clever. We also have moral capacity, compassion for life, and an appetite for justice. We now need to more fully engage these gifts to make economic life more socially just and environmentally responsible, and less destructive to nature and the commons that sustain us.

    This book aims to sketch, in light of our environmental crisis and economic sea change, the elements of business responsibility for our time, when everyone in business at every level has to deal with the unintended consequences of a 200-year-old industrial model that can no longer be sustained ecologically, socially, or financially.

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    Choose to Reuse

    by Annie Leonard

    Annie_leonardWhen I moved into the house in Dhaka where I lived in 1993, I noticed there was no wastebasket in my room. On my first trip to the market, I bought one – and soon discovered that throwing things “away” meant something different in the capital of Bangladesh than back home. What I threw into the trash quickly resurfaced in the community, put to another use. My blue flowered deodorant container turned up on a neighbor’s living room shelf as a vase for real flowers. A small boy stuck rods through my empty hair conditioner bottle and attached wheels, making a toy car he pulled around on a string.

    The potential for reuse is everywhere. It’s like that folk tale many of us were read as kids. Joseph’s grandfather turns his favorite blanket into a jacket. Joseph wears it out, so Grandpa turns the jacket into a vest. The vest becomes a handkerchief. The handkerchief becomes a tie. The tie becomes a button. Finally the button is lost. Even Grandpa can’t make something from nothing – but the lesson about how Stuff can be repurposed and reused again and again is clear.

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    Well-Worn Wading Boots on Christmas Island

    by Tom Morehouse

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    I have an interesting Patagonia photo to share with you. I was on Christmas Island (Kiribati) in March. My guide was Moana who was one of the founders of bonefishing on Christmas Island in the '80s when he was about 30 years of age.

    [Nothing beats local knowledge. Moana Kofe scouts for bonefish on Kiribati. Photo: Tom Morehouse]

    While fishing, I noticed that he had an old pair of Patagonia wading shoes on which were very well-worn. But here is the interesting part. He fishes every day for 12 hours in the salt water. These shoes have not only held up but, as the picture shows, have seaweed growing out of the tongue. When asked about it he said that the shoes never dry out and it has been there for years. I am enclosing a picture for you.

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    Patagonia Surf Stores - The Wave Riding Collective

    by Devon Howard

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    The first time I entered the hallowed doors of my local surf shop – Mitch’s on La Jolla’s Pearl Street – it felt like a rite of passage.

    As a 10-year-old grommet, I was in awe of all the cool surf and skate gear crammed on the store’s narrow, cluttered walls. I stood there, paralyzed, imagining what it would be like to ride one of the shiny new Puringtons, Bessells, Craigs or Staples surfboards lined up along the back room. I eventually gazed toward the glass counter, and drooled over all the Gullwing trucks, riser pads, O.J. wheels, Powell decks, stickers and grip tape that I would later nag my folks to buy me for upcoming birthdays.

    [Devon Howard grabs an FCD Fish off the rack. Patagonia Cardiff, California. Photo: Jeff Johnson]

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    Introducing the New Footprint Chronicles on Patagonia.com

    by Lisa Polley

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    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]

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    Let’s Bring Back Repair

    by Annie Leonard

    Annie_leonardA 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.

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    Patagonia Clothing: Made Where? How? Why?

    Patagonia_labelAbout 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.

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    High Five - Celebrating the Fifth Anniversary of The Cleanest Line [Updated]

    by Fitz Cahall

    Scamp2

    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.

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    Claim It: There is No Green Wetsuit

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    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" »

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