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Learning From Patagonia’s Sustainable Model

Learning From Patagonia’s Sustainable Model
Design
Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 4 march 2009

The Guardian recently sat down with Rob Bondurant VP of Marketing at Patagonia and asked him to discuss their sustainable model and how they will continue to innovate for the future. Beyond simply furthering the reach of their own brand, we found Patagonia’s desire to provide leadership in the areas of ethical business practices to be particularly noteworthy.

During 2008, the company started the Organic Exchange with the sole purpose of training other companies to source and manufacture organic goods. In an effort to provide their customers with greater access to information and promote transparency, they created the Footprint Chronicles, a study that traces the life cycle of a product from design through to shipment.

One of their most exciting end goals is the development of not just fully recyclable clothing, but completely biodegrable natural garments that will wind up on a compost heap as opposed to a landfill. And given the fickle nature of the fashion industry where a season’s worth of fads constantly come and go, Bondurant points to Patagonia’s long view as one of their most important legacies:

We try to look at a long-term picture. If you think about what you want your company to be 100 years from now rather than one year from now, it changes the way you make decisions. This outlook also affects the way we design – we don’t necessarily consider transitory fashion trends, and have more of an industrial perspective.

And Patagonia’s lasting success hasn’t been lost on some larger corporations seeking inspiration and ways to change their processes either:

Wal-Mart have recently approached us and asked how they can be more like us. As a small company, the effect we have on improving the environment is minimal, but think about what a giant company like Wal-Mart can do. If Wal-Mart makes even the smallest change, it has a big impact.

Guardian: ’Wal-Mart wants to be more like us’

[image via Dusty Davis]

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