As a human race, we have a plastic addiction rooted in consumerism and fossil fuel extraction. Collectively, we continue to remove vast amounts of carbon from the Earth to create products that are over-consumed and eventually, the resource-intensive products get thrown out as waste.
It's likely you've seen photos of trash filling our oceans, strangling wildlife, and piling up on shores. What was once considered pristine areas of our planet are now filling up with our trash from all over the world. We are all connected by and responsible for this global plastic problem. Depressing, right?
Fortunately, Patagonia is paving the way for a more environmentally-conscious clothing industry with a variety of solutions to combat waste.
First and foremost, the designers and manufacturers work to create the highest-quality products that will last decades, so that you don’t have to buy more. This is core to Patagonia's environmental strategy -- if a product lasts, its carbon footprint is automatically reduced.
Next, Patagonia is prioritizing the use of recycled content, with the eventual goal of 100%. Currently, 68% of their line is made with recycled materials, as compared to 15% of the clothing industry’s recycling rate.
A huge step towards that 68% was due to the redesign of the Black Hole Bag collection, in 2019. Black Hole Bags are now made with 100% post-consumer recycled polyester. Polyester, and other synthetic materials like nylon, come from petroleum-based inputs derived from fossil fuel extraction. This is heavily contributing to climate change. By using post-consumer recycled goods -- such as torn fishing nets, discarded bottles, and scraps from Patagonia's manufacturers -- rather than virgin fabrics, further environmental depletion is avoided. 2019's collection consisted of 10 million recycled plastic bottles.
By switching to the use of recycled content, CO2 emissions from the Black Hole collection has been cut by 50%. In one year alone, the company has reduced CO2 emissions by 20,000 tons.
Huge strides, indeed, but to make a real and lasting impact, Patagonia recognizes that we cannot do this alone. Rather, we need an industry-wide change. It is their duty as a leader in the industry to collaborate with other businesses (yes, even competitors!) to get as many companies on board using recycled inputs. As Patagonia's footprint chronicles point out: “If the entire clothing industry recycled at the same rate as Patagonia, we could reduce our emissions by the annual equivalent of powering every household in California.
In addition to the Black Hole Bag revision, the infamous Better Sweater was also redesigned in 2019 to be made nearly all from recycled content except for the zipper teeth (they’re working on that)! And if that's not impressive enough, Patagonia is the first in the industry to make every single shell with recycled materials.
Finally, Patagonia's Worn Wear program and Ironclad Guarantee are in place to ensure that your gear has the longest life possible. The Worn Wear program allows people to sell their Patagonia clothing they may not wear anymore, so that someone else can. The Ironclad Guarantee covers the repair of your well-loved Patagonia clothing. In 2018 alone, the repair center fixed over 100,000 items!
As a locally-owned Patagonia Dealer store, we are proud to be part of the solution. We are happy to buy back your gently-used Patagonia items for Worn Wear credit or process any repairs your items may need.
To learn more about the reality of our plastic problem and what Patagonia is doing in efforts to subside climate change, read more here & watch Patagonia’s “Why Recycled?” short film below.