The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Strategic CSR - Patagonia

Patagonia ran an interesting ad last week on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. traditionally reserved for excessive amounts of consumption). The full-page ad and accompanying copy are re-produced on ‘The Cleanest Line’—“Weblog for the employees, friends and customers of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia”:


and as a pdf at:


The title of the ad was “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” Some excerpts from the ad copy:

Why run an ad in The New York Times on Black Friday telling people, “Don’t Buy This Jacket”?

It’s time for us as a company to address the issue of consumerism and do it head on.

The most challenging, and important, element of the Common Threads Initiative is this: to lighten our environmental footprint, everyone needs to consume less. Businesses need to make fewer things but of higher quality. Customers need to think twice before they buy.

Why? Everything we make takes something from the planet we can’t give back. Each piece of Patagonia clothing, whether or not it’s organic or uses recycled materials, emits several times its weight in greenhouse gases, generates at least another half garment’s worth of scrap, and draws down copious amounts of freshwater now growing scarce everywhere on the planet.

We’re placing the ad in the Times because it’s the most important national newspaper and considered the “paper of record.” We’re running the ad on Black Friday, which launches the retail holiday season. We should be the only retailer in the country asking people to buy less on Black Friday.

So, why run the ad?

It’s part of our mission [http://www.patagonia.com/us/patagonia.go?assetid=2047&ln=140] to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. It would be hypocritical for us to work for environmental change without encouraging customers to think before they buy.

The ad is part of Patagonia’s Common Threads Initiative, which contains five main components designed to re-think our approach to consumerism, in general, and the apparel sector, in particular:

·         REDUCE what you buy
·         REPAIR what you can
·         REUSE what you have
·         RECYCLE everything else
·         REIMAGINE a sustainable world