While most companies are just getting up to speed with their green initiatives, environmental activism has been a core value for Patagonia since day one and is the driving force behind their recently announced web initiative, The Footprint Chronicles. Taking social and corporate responsibility one step further, the well-designed interactive site allows consumers to track social and environmental impact of specific garments. Offering unrivaled corporate transparency, users can learn of the good and bad involved with manufacturing outdoor clothing facilitating discussion about the environment and ultimately leading to more educated decisions about what we consume.
Patagonia is working to have all their clothes be fully recyclable by 2010 (more info on some of the new products that fit this criteria soon) and the Footprint Chronicles in some ways helps to accomplish this goal. Not only does it offer insightful information on the impact of a Patagonia product (they hope to highlight five new products each season), but it also serves as a re-evaluation of product development, allowing Patagonia to focus their energy on improving areas of their methodology that need it most and where they can truly make a difference. Featuring interviews and slideshows of workers, farmers, owners and designers each product featured is appended with the Good, the Bad and plans to make the product even more environmentally friendly. For example, one of my favorite coats, the Eco Rain Shell Jacket, is made using 100% recycled polyester but the water-repellent coating is not so eco-friendly.
The Footprint Chronicles is further proof that few companies compare to Patagonia when it comes to environmental initiatives that make a measurable difference. Opening up like this takes guts that should be commended (vote for them to win the People's Voice Webby Award ) and hopefully this will inspire other companies to increase their transparency to raise environmental awareness.