In May 2007, as part of the Footprint Chronicles, a group of 10 Patagonia employees were sent to travel the world, tracking five products from the design studio to the raw-materials stage to Patagonia’s Nevada distribution center, Fast Company reports. A microsite that went live last fall tracks the progress (the paths of 10 more products will go up this year).
As you’d expect, the consumer education initiative has put the company’s design and manufacturing process under the microscope. After a discussion on the use of perfluoro-octanoic acid – a chemical that may be toxic – in the Eco Rain Shell jacket, one customer wrote an email demanding that “Eco” be dropped from the name.
Another wrote, “Boy do you guys ever do a good job trying to paint a positive picture of your company.”
One positive surprise for Patagonia was that shipping by sea represented less than one percent of the total energy use in its supply chain. Manufacturing, though, used more energy than expected. Patagonia admits that, with only the primary materials being traced and no packaging being evaluated, its findings are limited.