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David Squires

Don’t Buy My Product!

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I was just reading about one of the more arresting corporate initiatives of the past year — the “Common Thread Initiative” from outdoor/adventure apparel company Patagonia.

Common Thread” was a campaign to encourage Patagonia’s customers to re-consider their consumption habits. What was most unusual about it was that Patagonia most strongly encouraging its customers to reduce its consumption of the company’s own products. (Not to mention providing them with the tools to do so.) 

The campaign resulted in this buzzed-about advertisement in The New York Times right at the start of the holiday season.

Note the careful itemization of the jacket’s environmental cost — enough water to supply 45 people for a day, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, etc. While there’s a few dollops of product puffery — the jacket advertised is said to be “sewn to high standard” and “exceptionally durable, so you won’t have to to replace it as often” — the message is clear and sincere. You may not need what we make. Before you buy, be sure you do.

It is a brave and beautiful thing to lead a business that supports your most deeply-held values. Even better when those values are felt strongly and rewarded by your customers.

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Anyway, this should be food for thought for anyone in our (very highly resource-intensive) industry.


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