Patagonia Inspires Consumers to Buy Less

If I were to ever open a business – and even call it that – I always wanted things to be transparent. How much I paid for things, what the mark-up is, the final cost, and where the money goes in the end. It’s that reason that I never really felt like I could run a business. I’m trading things or time for money, when I could just give it away for free to people I care about. Maybe I’ve read too much CrimethInc? Who knows.

But Patagonia, purveyors of sustainable outdoor clothing, really got outside the box on their new Common Threads Initative. They’re basically saying, hey, our stuff is awesome, and it lasts a long time. Use it, repair it, recycle it, and only buy something new if you absolutely have to. That’s basically saying “buy less of our stuff.” What? Unheard of! Their profits will plummet! Somehow, I don’t think they care…

We design and sell things made to last and to be useful. But we ask our customers not to buy from us what you don’t need or can’t really use. Everything we make – everything anyone makes – costs the planet more life than it gives back. The biggest, first step we can all take to reduce our impact is to do more with what we have.

Nothing wearable should be hoarded; useful things should be in circulation. Reuse what you no longer need, whether you’ve given up climbing or no longer wear brown. Donate unused clothes to a charity or sell them through the Patagonia Common Threads Initiative site on eBay or on our website, (where you can also buy used rather than new, eBay handles the purchase).

The last part of their initative’s site is called “Reimagine” and it’s pretty damn spellbinding to come from a retail company who sells clothes:

Two-thirds of our economy is based on the purchase of consumer goods. But to blindly purchase what’s good neither for the planet nor ourselves to keep the game going is the very definition of unsustainability. Let’s buy what’s healthy and useful; let’s stay away from what we don’t need and what causes unnecessary harm. Every action we take together to protect the land and waters we love adds to our knowledge and confidence that we can reimagine, then help bring about, a sustainable world for those who come after us.

Patagonia is also pushing clothing repair (which they or others do), as well as buying and selling your gently used clothes on eBay. This is really cool stuff, and for eco-freaks like me, it makes me want to buy (ha!) more Patagonia stuff to support them. Maybe I can find it at Goodwill first!

Image souce: Markify 

Eradicating Ecocide:

Some big waves being made (no pun intended) in the UK this week on Ecocide: the destruction of ecosystems, typically by “human agency.” The Guardian’s great piece “Trial tests whether ‘ecocide’ could join genocide as global crime” describes the mock trial going on today, let by a one Polly Higgins, who runs I really like her take, summed up in the Guardian article:

Higgins says a key inspiration is William Wilberforce, whose campaigning led to the abolition of slavery in the UK. He changed to norm of how black people were treated, she says, and ecocide law would change the way the planet is treated. “We have go to the point when the ethical imperative trumps the economic imperative,” she says. At the moment in many countries, she points out, the first responsibility of CEOs is a financial one to their shareholders. If environmental destruction is not illegal but can boost profit, it will happen, she says.

But she is not anti-corporate or anti-profit, she says: “I started as a corporate lawyer. Now I want to make the problem part of the solution.” She says companies should be making profits from solving the problems of global warming, habitat destruction and the extinctions of animals and plants. The companies that traded in slaves did not go out of business after slavery was abolished, she claims. [emphasis mine]

The two “problems” chosen for mock trial are the “fictional” oil drilling in Canada, a la Tar Sands in Alberta (currently being protested in Canada after the large demonstration here), and the a Gulf of Mexico oil spill (BP, anyone?). As one can see from the Twitter hashtag #ecocidetrial, the arguing is quite real for a mock trial.

For a better description of what Ecocide is, Higgins has put together a short lecture on YouTube with the title “Ecocide is a Crime.” If hardcore is more your style, of course, there’s always this “Ecocide” (with lyrics here)

Currently the trial is streaming live on Sky News, though I they apparently in deliberation and will return later. As an environmentalist I fully support what Higgins is trying to do and  the pressure to hold those accountable for ecocide. Carry on!

Edit 10/03/11: The verdict is in, and it is guilty! Nice job, prosecution. Now let’s see this turn into a real law!

“The chief executives may have been actors, the corporations fictional and the trial a mock-up, but the circumstances surrounding the so-called “crimes” – the destruction of ecosystems during both the Gulf oil spill and the mining of crude oil in Alberta – are real. So is the call for a new law protecting the natural world, placing ecocide among the most heinous crimes known.”

Photo credit: NFW Blogs

Moving Planet, Moving Louisville – September 24

Spurred by and their climate-changing actions, this year Louisville will have its own Moving Planet event, a “day to move beyond fossil fuels.” The idea is to congregate at a central location on foot, by bike, skates, or some other form of “clean” transportation (bus or carpool being the lesser alternative) and support initiatives for lessening our dependence on fossil fuels in our respective communities.

Louisville’s own celebration is happening on Saturday, September 24 (same as the national day of action) at the Jefferson Square Park (6th and Jefferson) in downtown Louisville at 4:00pm. The organizers (who recently got arrested as part of  the Tar Sands protests – way to go guys!) write:

Rally with us at 4 pm as we ask the Mayor to support a list of “LocalMotions” that would reduce our transportation-based fossil fuel use, clean our air, and enhance our community. There will be music, surprises, and more!

Come be part of the Louisville manifestation of a world-wide movement to wean our world off fossil fuels…for the sake of human beings and all life on our moving planet.

For those wishing to ride together or walk together, there will be meet-ups at Bike Couriers Bike Shop in Clifton, Heine Bros. Douglas Loops and Heine Bros. Longest Ave, as well as the Green Building. You can RSVP and get more info by visiting the Facebook event or sign-up directly here.

Louisville, let’s do this!

The Tar Sands and Their Impact

Accurately summed up this short video by Josh Fox:


While I’d love to be in DC next week, I doubt it will happen. At least Vida Vegan Con will satiate some of my activist desires! In the mean time, check out Grist and the links below for good coverage of the Tar Sands protests.

To call this project a horror is serious understatement. The tar sands have wrecked huge parts of Alberta, disrupting ways of life in indigenous communities—First Nations communities in Canada, and tribes along the pipeline route in the U.S. have demanded the destruction cease. The pipeline crosses crucial areas like the Oglalla Aquifer where a spill would be disastrous—and though the pipeline companies insist they are using ‘state of the art’ technologies that should leak only once every 7 years, the precursor pipeline and its pumping stations have leaked a dozen times in the past year. These  local impacts alone would be cause enough to block such a plan. But the Keystone Pipeline would also be a fifteen hundred mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent, a way to make it easier and faster to trigger the final overheating of our planet, the one place to which we are all indigenous. [src]

Tell Metro Louisville and LG&E To Stop Spreading Coal Ash

Here’s a solid petition hosted on CREDO Action’s site: “Stop dangerous coal ash pollution in Louisville.” It already has about 300 signatures, and they’re looking to give 500 before sending it to the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District. This particular petition references the Cane Run coal plant (which is connected to mountaintop removal) and the coal ash it spews on residents who live near it. I ride by the plant all the time, and it’s definitely an ugly site. I’m well aware that Louisville needs power to function (and I need it to blog), but there’s gotta be a better way. Says the petition,

Coal ash, which is more radioactive than nuclear waste, is known to cause asthma and various other respiratory problems. One local resident whose son suffers from severe respiratory problems was told by her doctor, “you need to move.”

The Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District is looking into the matter, but it hasn’t yet committed to taking action to protect nearby residents from the Cane Run coal plant’s coal dust pollution.

Glad I don’t live there, but I feel sorry for the people who do. Sign it today and invest in cleaner energy!