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One of the most surprising green business tactics of 2011 was unveiled just before the holiday shopping season. In a complete reversal of what’s always passed for common sense among retailers, Patagonia partnered with eBay, urged consumers to buy fewer of their products, and collected pledges from consumers willing to dedicate themselves to reducing consumption.
The Common Threads Initiative, launched in September 2011, has collected nearly 50 percent of it’s annual goal of 50,000 pledges.
In return, Patagonia pledges to use the best green technology to build durable gear, to repair what breaks at little to no cost, and to help customers find new homes for what they no longer need. Hence the eBay partnership.
The green technology used in manufacturing Patagonia products makes their gear exceptionally long-lasting. The Initiative urges consumers to reduce, repair and reuse. Recycling is a green technology, but still places some strain on the earth’s resources, so they’re asking users to only recycle when an item’s full lifespan is exhausted.
The Common Threads Initiative marks the first time a major retailer has encouraged shoppers to buy through eBay’s green technology. eBay users dealing with Patagonia products are encouraged to take the pledge, and are featured in Patagonia’s online store. Patagonia isn’t getting a cut of the eBay sales.
As eBay’s Green Team has stated, “The greenest product is one that already exists.” Their online marketplace is inherently green technology, as is their platform of reselling used items. They also encourage sellers to reuse old shipping materials.
Patagonia environment VP Rick Ridgeway claims the company has zero funding to conduct customer surveys regarding the Common Threads Initiative, but response has so far been encouraging. Whatever the result, Ridgeway stands by the company’s dedication to green technology over sales.
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