Patagonia x eBay: Common Threads Initiative

The Outdoor Industry has always been at the forefront of innovative design, ethical initiatives and enviromentally-friendly materials and manufacturing…no matter what the cost, climate or stocks have forecasted.

Mountaineering purist Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, has without a doubt played a pivotal role in this revolution, setting the standard for “going green” from day one. By raising awareness on a global scale, Chouinard has hand-delivered groundbreaking ideas to the masses — like recycling Capilene baselayers or establishing migration wildways for animals — promoting good business by focusing on virtuous values. This next project is equally as crazy/amazing, but believe us, there is always a method to the madness when it comes to Patagonia. As of last week, Patagonia launched, in partnership with eBay, the Common Threads Initiative, asking consumers to STOP buying more Patagonia product unless they felt the absolute need to.

“The Common Threads Initiative addresses a significant part of today’s environmental problem – the footprint of our stuff,” notes Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder and owner. “This program first asks customers to not buy something if they don’t need it. If they do need it, we ask that they buy what will last a long time – and to repair what breaks, reuse or resell whatever they don’t wear any more. And, finally, recycle whatever’s truly worn out. We are the first company to ask customers to take a formal pledge and be partners in the effort to reduce consumption and keep products out of the landfill or incinerator.”

The project kicked off last week during FNO at the Bowery Hotel, co-hosted by fashion’s eco-sweetheart Ms. Julie Gilhart, Annie Leonard, director of the Story of Stuff Project, Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia’s VP of environmental initiatives, Graham Hill, founder of Treehugger and eBay.

Patagonia in turn commits to make products that last and help repair quickly if anything breaks. To help customers put back in circulation used clothes, Patagonia and eBay Inc. have joined forces to launch a new marketplace for customers to buy and sell used Patagonia gear. Patagonia’s Common Threads Initiative store on eBay establishes a new model for consumption: It marks the first time a major retail brand actively encourages its customers to buy and sell used products on eBay, and it is eBay’s first multi-seller branded store.

A customer who lists a used Patagonia product on eBay will be asked to take the Common Threads Initiative pledge and become a partner. Membership will make the customer’s listing eligible for inclusion in the Common Threads Initiative store on eBay and on Patagonia.com. Patagonia will not receive any of the profits associated with the Common Threads Initiative storefront.

The collaboration between Patagonia and eBay was born out of their common interest to extend the useful life of products. eBay, the world’s largest online marketplace, has, over the past year, developed innovative new initiatives that extend the impact of its inherently sustainable business model. The eBay Box, launched as a pilot in September 2010, encourages buyers and sellers to reuse packaging; and eBay Instant Sale, launched in October 2010, encourages customers to sell and/or recycle their used electronics. The Patagonia Common Threads store on eBay becomes not only the latest example of eBay’s commitment to sustainable commerce, but a new model for consumption within the apparel industry – one that emphasizes product, reuse, and tapping the full useful life of clothing.

“eBay and Patagonia have created this unique store to encourage customers to go into their closets, find the Patagonia garments they don’t currently need, and list them on eBay to continue their useful life,” notes Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia’s VP of environmental initiatives. “As eBay says, the ‘greenest product is the one that already exists.’ Most Patagonia products last longer than most people want or need them. Let’s reuse and recirculate those products! This program will provide everyone with the satisfaction that they are doing the right thing for the planet.”

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