Patagonia: Buy Less, Reuse More, Recycle

This morning was discouraging, until I watched this video. I know I’m a bit late to the game on this; but it’s still worth writing about.

As I looked at this morning’s top industry headlines, I once again felt like advertising is the annoying kid at the party clamoring desperately for people’s attention. Shoes that make music, innovative uses QR codes, brands going on hugely expensive road trips – all for the sake of convincing people to buy more stuff. It’s satiating and unsustainable. Then I saw this article:

Many consumer goods companies have environmental initiatives. Think of Dell’s e-waste recycling program, for example. Or P&G’s commitment to 100 percent renewable energy. Or the Chevy Volt, even.

But, as laudable as these are, you might argue that they are secondary to a larger problem. All these companies still want us to buy more products. If a consumer goods company truly wanted to be sustainable, they might suggest that we consume a little less, or at least price their goods at a cost that reflects their true impact.

Couldn’t agree more! One of the core reasons I’m in advertising is to help reduce consumerism. How that works itself out is messy and often murky at best. Sometimes it’s in small adjustments to a piece of work, sometimes it’s in large adjustments to a brand’s purpose. Either way, it’s an uphill (but worthwhile) battle.

Occasionally, something like Patagonia’s Common Threads initiative comes along and blows the lid off the whole thing. It’s not just a small win, it’s not merely a minor tweak; it’s a huge shift resulting in a moment of beauty. I know that language could be seen as hyperbolic, but I genuinely find this idea and the videos associated with it to be a thing of beauty.

Patagonia’s Common Threads from Dokument Films on Vimeo.