Earth Day Activation: Patagonia’s Jen Rapp

Patagonia Director of Communications and Public Relations Jen Rapp

What does Earth Day mean to you?

To be honest, our founder Yvon Chouinard doesn’t really believe in Earth Day. Environmentalism is an integral part of Patagonia’s DNA and we made a decision years ago to not formally celebrate Earth Day, but to place our focus on environmental issues every day. Sounds kinda sanctimonious, but it’s true.

We have a dedicated Enviro department that runs our environmental campaigns and determines which grassroots enviro groups will be given grants through our 1% For the Planet effort, and each product-design decision takes the environment into consideration.

Are you and your company doing anything around this year’s Earth Day?

Patagonia doesn’t do anything extravagant or unusual for Earth Day. Actually – here at our Ventura campus the children in our GPCDC childcare center hold a little concert out on the grass and sing a few “Earth Day” songs and some of them wear homemade “Earth” costumes. It’s sweet...but that’s about the extent of it.

What environmentally-focused goals has your business achieved since last Earth Day?

Since last April 22nd our company has achieved a few major milestones:
Most notably, Patagonia launched its Common Threads Initiative. We are asking our customers to REDUCE what they consume and to think twice before making a Patagonia purchase.

We ran an ad in the New York Times on Black Friday (see below) after Thanksgiving encouraging customers to NOT buy a Patagonia jacket without fully thinking through their purchase. Do you really need a new fleece? A new pair of board shorts? If so, are you comfortable with the product’s environmental and social footprint? Second, the program asks our customer to REPAIR a Patagonia product before retiring it. Patagonia has an Iron Clad Guarantee and will repair ANY Patagonia product that’s flawed or been damaged free of charge. We will also replace it if it’s flawed beyond repair. Third, we launched a partnership with eBay where we’re asking customers to REUSE or RESELL any Patagonia clothing they no longer want or need. The last step in the cycle is to RECYCLE products that have reached the end of their useful life. Patagonia has taken over 45 tons of clothing back for recycling. Customers can take the Common Threads Pledge here: Our goal is to get 100,000 Common Threads members by the end of 2013. Join!

Patagonia also launched its “Our Common Waters” environmental campaign.  The campaign spotlights the freshwater crisis and the need to balance human water consumption with that of animals and plants. We’re addressing issues such as our company’s water footprint (For example, how much water is used in the creation of one organic cotton tee? The answer is shocking. It’s 703 liters.), water stress, broken rivers and pollution.

We also just launched Patagonia Provisions. We’re taking Patagonia’s environmental sensibilities and applying them to the food industry.

Our first product is organic salmon jerky.