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December17

The Essence of Product Sustainability

Patagonia reflects the best of what sustainable design can achieve

 

Outdoor equipment and apparel has deeper meaning for many users as opposed to being a mere object of desire for ‘gear freaks’ and others obsessed with the latest version of Goretex.

 

The connections between people, place and product are diverse and reflect a culture beyond that committed to exponential economic growth, or the ever-growing abundance of superficial CSR weasel words. The fact that tobacco companies and weapons manufacturers can be judged as having ‘quality’ CSR programs, tells me that many CSR models are fundamentally flawed and feeble.

 

Fancy schmancy sermon maybe, but Patagonia tells a compelling story about how and why some of us interact with pristine landscapes, be it through hardcore expeditions, weekend challenges or more humble everyday living to stay warm and dry.

 

Great gear with good intent; profit with purpose, but above all a philosophy which has placed Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard at the top of the tree in terms of what true product sustainability can express … in my humble opinion.

 

Not every company sees the value of what Patagonia has created, however its approach is highly transferable and increasingly desirable to a generation which actively seeks out substance, ethics and quality. And as much as I personally worship their thinking and action, I nonetheless look forward to reading about many more companies adopting similar business models.

 

Watch the Patagonia Worn Wear film for glimpse of this truly impressive organisation. For a great article on the significance of repairing things, read Repair as a Radical Act … a recent story by Patagonia’s CEO, Rose Marcario.

 

And for those with a specific interest in outdoor apparel and equipment, it is worth noting that VAUDE has been awarded Germany’s Most Sustainable Brand for 2015. The company’s impressive sustainability program spans the social, environmental and  technical spheres with depth and rigour. A different but equally admirable approach to producing and consuming manufactured goods with minimal life-cycle impacts.

 

-John Gertsakis

Chief Sustainability Officer, Infoactiv

john.gertsakis@infoactiv.com

 

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