Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Ughh...How to Handle Product Stewardship.
For example, consider product stewardship: managing the impacts of your products during and after their use. There just aren't that many companies that have figured out how to manage products in a way that is BOTH environmentally preferable (as shown by lifecycle analysis), and financially viable. If a product stewardship program doesn't meet these two criteria, it won't be a long-lived program; it will be a marketing campaign.
But, take Patagonia's Common Threads program. Patagonia has changed the old adage to: "Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle". What a great way to change its customers behaviors. This seems to make good sense for both the company and the consumer.
On the reduce side, a comprehensive guide on its website describes how to care for its garments (Wash lambswool garments by hand in cool water with a bit of dishwashing liquid. Let the garment soak in the basin...) Patagonia says it repaired 12,000 garments last year. Consumers can either send or drop off garments, and Patagonia will fix them (presumably for a small price). Take a look at the website for the other elements.
I highlight this effort as an innovative way for Patagonia to address one of the toughest challenges that I've seen: managing product impacts in a way that makes good business sense.