In 2011, Patagonia placed an unusual Black Friday ad in The New York Times. Above a large image of its R2® Jacket ran the heading: Don’t buy this jacket.
The advert asked readers ‘to buy less and to reflect before you spend a dime on this jacket or anything else’. It detailed the eco credentials of the R2® Jacket – one of the active wear company’s best sellers – but was also transparent about the environmental impact of its manufacture.
‘To make it required 135 liters of water, enough to meet the daily needs (three glasses a day) of 45 people’, the ad stated. ‘Its journey from its origin as 60% recycled polyester to our Reno warehouse generated nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, 24 times the weight of the finished product. This jacket left behind, on its way to Reno, two-thirds its weight in waste.’
The R2® Jacket is made from 60% recycled polyester, knit and sewn to a high standard. It’s exceptionally durable, so customers may never need to replace it, and when it comes to the end of its useful life Patagonia will take it back to recycle into a product of equal value.
Even with these impressive eco credentials, the advert left readers under no illusion about the cost of all the clothes we buy and wear: ‘As is true of all the things we can make and you can buy, this jacket comes with an environmental cost higher than its price.’
The advert went out long before conscious consumerism became mainstream and #BuyNothingDay gained traction, but Patagonia is an activist company that has always been a front-runner when it comes to conscious and sustainable business practices.
‘Environmental bankruptcy, as with corporate bankruptcy, can happen very slowly, then all of a sudden’, Patagonia stated in its 2011 advert. ‘This is what we face unless we slow down, then reverse the damage. We’re running short on fresh water, topsoil, fisheries, wetland—all our planet’s natural systems and resources that support business, and life, including our own.’
Patagonia’s approach to ethical business includes a promise to manufacture high-quality stuff that lasts for years, so you don’t have to buy more of it.
Its latest campaign is to help us extend the life of everything we buy: to make more of the stuff we already own and therefore cut down on consumption.
Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee, which comes with everything Patagonia makes, states that if you’re not satisfied with one of its products when you receive it, or if one of it doesn’t perform to your satisfaction, you can return it to the store you bought it from or to Patagonia for a repair, replacement or refund. Damage due to wear and tear is repaired at a reasonable charge.
Repairing your Patagonia gear is highly encouraged and will not void the Ironclad Guarantee.
According to WRAP, keeping clothing in use just nine extra months can reduce the related carbon, water and waste footprints by 20-30%.
Patagonia employs 45 full-time repair technicians at its service centre in Reno, Nevada. It’s the largest repair facility in North America—completing about 40,000 repairs per year.
During the Patagonia Worn Wear Tour, Patagonia will hit the road to bring its expertise to an event near you. Click here to see the tour dates.
You can join Patagonia to repair, share and recycle your gear – and keep it in action for longer so you can buy less. Because laundering, ironing and drying can shorten the life of your clothes as much as wearing them does, Patagonia will also offer tips for cleaning and care to extend the life of your clothing.
For those who can’t get to any of the events during the Worn Wear Tour, Patagonia has teamed up with the repair experts at iFixit to create care and repair guides so you can easily look after your clothes and make repairs yourself.
Click here for the Patagonia Repairs Guide, which covers everything from how to replace a zip to how to stitch up holes in jeans. The Patagonia Product Care Guide – which explains how best to get rid of stains, wash, dry and iron a waterproof jacket and generally keep your clothes in top shape – can be found here.
Everything natural gives life to something new, and Patagonia believes the things it makes should, too. Whatever you’ve bought from Patagonia that’s finally worn out, you can return to be recycled into new fibre or fabric; anything that can’t yet be recycled will be repurposed.
If you have any Patagonia clothes that you no longer wear, Patagonia can also help you to get them into the hands of someone who needs it. The company makes it easy to buy, sell or trade used Patagonia gear – which could be just what you need if you’re saving for your next adventure holiday.
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