Patagonia, the outdoor clothier (and cobbler) with an inspiring eco-conscience, have had so much Greenness going on recently, it’s been tricky keeping on top of it all.
We noticed, for example, that Patagonia were selected for a featured April episode of US television program, Curiosity Quest, as the educational exploration series ‘Goes Green’ for a bunch of eps. And that Patagonia Footwear have launched their own Facebook page, as well as winning the Best Outdoor Vegan Shoe Retailer from PETA, of all people.
As their own Earth Day special, Patagonia updated their Footprint Chronicles, a web-based window into their environmental soul. As we’ve discussed before Patagonia make their fabric sourcing, product manufacturing and shipping processes transparent via this rather public online examination of their own business.
An Examined Corporate Life
For Earth Day they’ve tidied up the viewer experience, whilst adding another three garments to the story; an organic cotton/Tencel women’s top, nylon board shorts and a polyester fleece jacket. Each product environmental impact is calculated via its energy and water use, the amount of carbon emission and solid waste it generates and the distance it travels from source to Patagonia’s distribution centre. 18 products, in total, are now profiled with maps and movies on the Footprint Chronicles website. But in a new move Patagonia now provide footprint details for selected products, directly next to their usual weight, size, colour and price information on their web catalog.
But it is not just individual products whose footprint is examined. Over at Patagonia’s blog, The Cleanest Line, they are also revealing information about how green, or otherwise, their sourcing of componentry sourcing is. (That’s all the zippers, elastic, snap fasterners, cords, labels, etc. that are required to complete a product.) They made some changes to how these trims were shipped around, and for the product sampling for the last two seasons saved $80,000 in transport costs, not counting the associated carbon emissions saved.
Photo: 'localcrew' for Patagonia
Garment Recycling Program
In another blog entry Patagonia review their Common Threads Garment Recycling Program, which they launched in 2005 with the intent of making all Patagonia products recyclable within five years. They are characteristically honest about the probability of achieving this goal by 2010.
Polyester is not the only recycling they’ve undertaken. Nylon, wool and cotton are also being actively pursued. It is a long and very informative post that gives real insight into the challenges that have confronted Patagonia. But, in short, 45% of their Fall 2008 product line was recyclable. For Fall 2009, it will be 65%. And although they’ve successfully recycled more than 6,000 kg of garments since launching the program in 2005, one of their self-imposed issues is that they strive to make durable, long lasting clothing in the first instance, which ironically limits the volume of goods coming back for them to set up meaningful projects with recycled material suppliers. Well worth the read.
But if you prefer the moving image to the written word, then check out this video that Fair Companies made inside the Patagonia fabric lab, which also explores the progress made in their recycling program.
Photo: Florian Schulz for Patagonia
Patagonia’s image gallery, packed with photos and videos of , The Tin Shed has been nominated for a 2009 Webby Award (as has TreeHugger!). Nesting alongside the usual examples of outdoor ‘derring do’ in The Tin Shed are also pieces on the Freedom to Roam project, eco-sensitive surfboards and a homage to the 1968 road trip to South America by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and friends, which has ultimately led to 2 million wild acres being rescued for land conservation.
Great to see that a company with a enviable reputation for 'doing well by doing good,' is not content to rest on their laurels and keeps pushing the envelope.