“Everything we own, what is produced, sold, imported, stored, cleaned and eventually sacked is in some way detrimental to nature. Either we are harming it directly or it is being harmed on our behalf.”
In the world of corporate responsibility, Vincent Stanley is at centre stage. He has been in Patagonia since its inception, his position is called Chief Storyteller and he is responsible for the company’s philosophy. Vincent stands behind projects such as the Footprint Chronicles, Common Threads or Patagonia Books. And he arrived to Prague to talk about how an “ordinary” clothing company became one of the most admired companies in the world – and we were around to hear it.
Patagonia strives to produce goods of highest quality without causing unnecessary harm and to use its business to solve the environmental crisis(see Patagonia’s reason for being). Patagonia is without doubt one of the pioneers in the field of corporate responsibility. Since 1973, the company contributes 1% of its sales to environmental protection.
Patagonia uses materials, which consume minimum non-renewable resources and focuses on materials from renewable resources. One of its major challenges was the full transition to organic cotton. 25% of harmful pesticides are produced by the agricultural production of cotton, due to farmland cultivation. Cotton and its cultivation is therefore a big factor in the pollution of our environment.
How did your customers accept the transition to organic cotton and thereby the increase in product prices? “We simplified the collection, reduced the number of products to have the opportunity to present them in detail … we also talked about this with our distributors … of course it was an expensive process and the products cost suddenly more … sometimes it is very difficult to change people’s thinking, but you cannot resign on it, if you want to stick to your values.”
In the ongoing campaign Common Threads Partnership, the company proposes its customers a two-sided commitment. The customer commits to only buy what he really needs and put for further use everything he no longer needs. In turn, the company commits to manufacture useful products that will have long endurance, repair products that break, and buy back clothes that are still in good condition to forward them to others, or recycle the ones that can no longer be used.
Patagonia enters into an agreement with customers concerning the mutual responsibility of product life cycles, which is based on five ‘R’s – reduce, repair, reuse, recycle, reimagine.