Clothing company Patagonia is asking people not to buy its outdoor sportswear and gear unless the really need it. The company may be the first ever to ask customers to formally take a pledge to reduce consumption and be partners in the effort to keep products out of the landfill or incinerator.
Last week it launched its Common Threads Initiative – asking customers to reduce consumption, and partnering with eBay to help promote the reuse of clothing and gear that might be useful for someone else.
“The Common Threads Initiative addresses a significant part of today’s environmental problem – the footprint of our stuff,” notes Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder and owner. “This program first asks customers to not buy something if they don’t need it. If they do need it, we ask that they buy what will last a long time – and to repair what breaks, reuse or resell whatever they don’t wear any more. And, finally, to recycle whatever’s truly worn out.
Patagonia in turn commits to make “products that last” and help repair quickly anything that breaks.
A customer who lists a used Patagonia product on eBay will be asked to take the Common Threads Initiative pledge and become a partner. Membership will make the customer’s listing eligible for inclusion in the Common Threads Initiative store on eBay and on Patagonia.com. Patagonia will not receive any of the profits associated with the Common Threads Initiative storefront.
The collaboration between Patagonia and eBay was born out of their common interest to extend the useful life of products. eBay, the world’s largest online marketplace, has, developed innovative ideas to do just that. The eBay Box encourages buyers and sellers to reuse packaging; and eBay Instant Sale encourages customers to sell and/or recycle their used electronics.
Maybe this new model for consumption within the apparel industry – one that emphasizes product, reuse, and tapping the full useful life of clothing – will catch on with other retailers.
“As eBay says, the ‘greenest product is the one that already exists.’