Repair, Resell, Reuse

I’m excited to see Patagonia’s plans for recycling unwanted but still useful garments. Here come a few more sewing jobs that will undoubtedly be more creative and interesting than those for factory construction.

In a new take-back program that will launch in April, [Patagonia] will begin offering store credit for used (but still usable) clothing. At its repair facility in Reno, California—the largest garment repair center in North America—it will wash used clothes with a new waterless technology that helps restore the fabric, and then make any needed repairs. The refurbished garment will be sold on Patagonia’s website …

“If we can make really durable products, and we can work with our customers to keep them in service and in good repair, then we’re providing a solution to the environmental crisis,” says Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia’s vice president of environmental affairs. “Because then the overall footprint of the products that we make, and our customers buy from us, is as low as we can possibly make it. That really is intrinsic to our motivation for doing this” …

When the company initially asked customers to buy less in 2011, it experimented with various programs … At the time, the company launched a new program called Common Threads, which promoted four “Rs”—recycling, reusing, repairing, and reducing consumption.

In 2013, the program was rebranded as Worn Wear, and the company decided to focus on one “R” at a time, beginning with repair. The repair facility in Reno hired more staff, retail stores opened simple repair centers on site, and the Patagonia website added 45 videos teaching consumers how to fix zippers, sew buttons, and make other DIY repairs. In 2015, the company started sending a converted diesel truck around the country on a mobile repair tour. With the new take-back model, Patagonia will move into a phase of focusing on reuse as well.

The repair and refurbish model would be unlikely to work, Ridgeway says, if Patagonia didn’t also design clothing to last …

The company calculates that if clothing stays in use for nine extra months, it can reduce the carbon, water, and waste footprint by 20% to 30%.

Read the entire article and see some great photos at Fast Co. Design.

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