Leading by example. Patagonia is not your usual clothing company. Their people believe that the current way of doing business has exhausted our planet’s natural resources, and that we must take from the environment only what nature can replace. Since 1985, Patagonia has donated 1% of their sales to environmental causes and is committed to reducing the overconsumption and overproduction of clothes across the globe. Vice-President of Environmental Initiatives and outdoors adventurer, Rick Ridgeway, knows that Patagonia has a responsibility to give back what they take and he urges others to do the same.
‘Don’t buy this jacket’ At the heart of Rick’s philosophy is the idea of individual responsibility and that the best thing we can do for our planet is buy only what we need. This idea led to Patagonia’s ‘Don’t buy this jacket’ campaign, which asked people to not buy the jacket unless they really needed it. “From the response we’ve had from consumers who have listened to that message and considered it, we have influenced many people into rethinking their relationship to their clothes and, in fact, the relationship to all the stuff they have in their life”, explains Rick.
Sharing responsibility. To improve sustainable consumption and production, we need to understand the entire lifecycle of an item of clothing. Rick identifies two areas of focus: the environmental impact of the production process, from the growing materials to dying, washing and transporting them, and the number of garments bought. To encourage sustainable demand, Patagonia launched the Common Threads Partnership – an initiative that invites customers to pledge to reduce what they buy, repair what they can, reuse and recycle.
Making clothes last longer. From their workshop in California, Rick and his team offer to repair customer’s torn clothes and return garments fixed within 10 days. Patagonia also partnered with IFIXIT, an online ‘how-to’ service, to make instructional, step-by-step videos to repairing clothes without hassle. It is certainly a step in the right direction, but Rick believes other large retailers will need to embrace a similar approach to see a positive change for the future.