A few years ago I was reading an article comparing Patagonia and North Face. Both companies manufacture similar outdoor winter wear products with a similar price point and customer base. Both companies are turning profits however North Face’s annual sales far exceed Patagonia’s.
North Face is a subsidiary of VF Corporation which is a publicly traded company that owns 30 odd apparel and footwear brands.
North Face’s Fiscal Year 2019 Annual Report noted 9 percent growth, over 22 percent return on capital and $3 billion dollars of returned to shareholders from dividends and share repurchases.
Patagonia is a private benefit corporation otherwise known as a B Corporation meaning a company thatincludes positive impact on society, workers, the community and the environment in addition to profit.
Patagonia’s 2018 Annual Benefit Corporation Report notes “Each year, we commit one percent (1%) of our annual net revenues to support nonprofit charitable organizations that promote environmental conservation and sustainability”.
Patagonia is a 46-year-old company and known as an activist company. Back in 2011 on Black Friday, Patagonia’s marketing campaign placed labels in their coats “Don’t Buy This Jacket” suggesting to customers they don’t buy the companies products unless you absolutely needed a new coat. Patagonia recognized a 30% percent increase in sales with a belief the increase was the winning over the competitor’s customer base.
Patagonia also created a buy back program called Worn Wear. The concept is to wear, repair and share in items you already own instead of buying new.
As an educated consumer, my purchases are generally researched and calculated. My decisions are based on many variables as I search for brands of companies with philosophies that I can align with.
The environment is a top priority for me as I’m recognizing the effect we are having on our planet from companies and people that aren’t concerned with our future. Businesses are built to profit, that I can align with however certainly not at the expense of the world environment, workforce or excessive taxation. Corporate welfare privatizes profits and socializes losses at the expense of the taxpayer who also is the consumer.
Large corporations lobby politicians for tax breaks, leniency on rules and laws governing wages, benefits and environmental impact for only one purpose, a
Working as a Brand Designer with a new startup company we are designing the core values of our brand. Listing the individual threads of what will ultimately become the fabric of the companies mission and philosophy we are researching companies that align with our own personal beliefs and recognizing their struggles to close the gap on sustainability.
As we recognized the current status of the global business environments challenge to remain competitive and profitable we also see a pattern of the abusers. Cutting corners, removing quantity and quality from goods and services while devouring up the competition and creating conglomerates that are too large to fail all hiding behind a welfare system designed to absorb the risk.
Daily I challenge myself to evaluate my personal impact on the environment and things I can do to change. My distance traveled to work has grossly diminished based on 8 years ago and I’m evaluating the products I buy, upcycle, recycle and repurpose. I’ve stopped shopping in stores fully of kitsch and buying memorable trinkets. Instead, I try to purchase Buy It For Life products that may not last an actual lifetime but certainly can be repaired, handed down or resold.
I’ll remember places visited and experienced by taking photographs and writing about the experience. The sharing of the experience through communication far exceeds the memory of a plastic souvenir thrown into a drawer.
For products that I can not buy it for life, I try to extend the life expectancy of those products by no longer discarding clothing or shoes due to imperfections, I’ll instead try to stretch out a bit more use out of the products until they are fully expended.
I revitalize old buildings to give them a new life while minimizing the waste of discarding the structure. I’ll repair items to extend their life and donate or gift away items with limited resale value.
Items such as clothing, books, and household goods have low to no resale value due to the artificial capitalist economy we have created. Cheap products and services are being sold while risks and losses are bring absorbed through creative accounting and taxation loopholes.
More billionaires are being created annually as employee benefits, wages, retirement funds, and job security have diminished to record lows. Our product choices have also been grossly decreased as we find out about large conglomerates who own the majority of the products that are on our shelves. Startups and market innovators are bought up and absorbed into just another product line in these already obese corporations.
These companies work on tight margins and maximize sales by increasing their market shares. Many corporations product lines or acquired companies are designed specifically to lose money to drive down the price of goods and services forcing competitors to cut corners for survivalism.
Our single line of defense is to research the companies we purchase from. Learn from actual consumers about their personal experiences on purchased goods and services and we must create our own standards of what we as the customer are willing to pay and receive in return. We must flock to companies that align with those beliefs and place a stakeholder in their future.
The future of our planet relies purely on our active participation in revitalizing our planet by minimizing waste and buying sustainable and renewable resources. Collectively we must look to where we can take a firm stance on global warming, pollution, reduction in quality of life and natural resources.
“We can revitalize the Earth by making gradual changes based on products we use and how we treat the waste. Our biggest voice is in the boycotting of products that do not align with our core beliefs and in turn either doing without or buying from companies that take a truthful stab at saving our planet”.