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Patagonia Partners with eBay to Reduce Consumption

Words by Leon Kaye

When preparing for a month-long trip to South America a few years ago, I used eBay to purchase moisture-wicking winter clothes for several reasons:  laziness (I'm not a fan of shopping); variety (June in Southern California is not a time to buy winter clothes); and convenience (like many shoppers, I was too busy anyway).  Many of those clothes happened to be from Patagonia, and I still have a few of those items.

I’d like to think I could take credit for Patagonia and eBay partnering on a new clothing reuse and recycling initiative, but Patagonia has been on this path for several years.  The company started its Common Threads program five years ago, and ramped up its efforts last fall by actually encouraging its customers to consume less.  Now the Common Threads program is growing through a partnership with eBay.

Patagonia encourages its customers to reduce consumption, repair clothing, recycle, and finally, resell its items.  That is quite a change from other retailers who do not think twice about sending unwanted merchandise to the dump.  It is important for other companies to follow Patagonia’s lead as the textile and clothing industries have a massive impact on people, resources, and at the end of use, waste.

To that end, Patagonia and eBay have teamed up to create a new marketplace for sellers and customers to buy and sell their unwanted Patagonia clothing and gear.  Patagonia claims that they are the first company to ask its customers to take a formal pledge in order to reduce consumption.  Meanwhile, eBay has its first multi-seller branded store.

Any seller who posts a used Patagonia product on eBay will be asked by the clothing company to take the “Common Threads Initiative Pledge” on both companies’ sites.  Patagonia, meanwhile, will not receive any profits generated from this initiative.

For eBay, this is another step for the Silicon Valley giant to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability.  Last fall the company started the eBay Box program to encourage its customers to reuse packaging.  Another initiative allows eBay’s customers to trade in old electronics for cash.

An eBay employee explained over the phone:

It’s all about thinking about how we consume--it’s amazing that Patagonia is stepping up and saying “don’t buy our stuff if you don’t have to.”  So extend it and buy used if you can.  We hope this program a huge success, but even if it’s not, we hope it’s a statement that other clothing manufacturers see this, take notice, and say, great idea, let’s continue this conversation.  Hopefully we planted seeds in clothing manufacturers’ minds.

Critics of eBay and Amazon often forget that these companies have opened economic opportunity that did not exist 15 to 20 years ago to thousands of people (who otherwise would have been commuting, mind you).  With Patagonia stepping up its Common Threads program with eBay, now this new world of commerce has taken a step to become leaner and greener.  The fashion industry would be wise to take notice.

Leon Kaye is a consultant, writer, and editor of GreenGoPost.com and also contributes to The Guardian Sustainable Business; you can follow him on Twitter.  He lives in Silicon Valley.

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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