Behind the Scenes of #antiBlackFriday: Q + A with Nellie from Patagonia HQ

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Nellie_headshot We had a great time this weekend during our #BetterThanNew party with Patagonia and iFixit to celebrate #antiBlackFriday. In honor of the event, we caught up with Nellie Cohen, Corporate Environmental Associate at Patagonia, to talk about the partnership and why they teamed up with yerdle.

Where are you from originally?

I grew up in the North Bay – Petaluma. It's a semi-rural community with lots of opportunities to spend time in the outdoors.

What is your role at Patagonia?

I work in the Environmental Department at Patagonia where I develop and implement programs and strategies that make Patagonia a more responsible company. In particular I spend much of my time developing programs for the Common Threads Partnership and work to implement the Higg Index as part of our commitment to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

How long have you worked at the company?

I’ve been at Patagonia for four years. Time has flown by!

What is it like working there?

It’s great. We work hard and we play hard. I’ve never been a fan of office life, and I feel lucky that our work spaces and culture make Patagonia feel more like a community than a business. Much of the time we work side by side, collaboratively and across departments so every project brings together different perspectives and goals.

Why do you care about the environment?

Selfishly I am a backpacker, skier and surfer. Without mountains, snow and clean oceans I would be brokenhearted. Being outside is what keeps me grounded and gives me a sense of self. At the same time, we as humans depend on the earth for everything — for sustenance and for business — so it is imperative that we learn to be better stewards of this planet.

patagonia don't buy this jacketIn 2011, Patagonia launched the "Don't Buy This Jacket" campaign on Black Friday, which encouraged people to buy less and spelled out the environmental costs of Patagonia products. Looking back over the 2 years since then — what has Patagonia learned along the way?

The majority of the response to “Don’t Buy This Jacket” has been supportive. The headline was meant to grab people and draw them into the essay at the bottom of the ad that explained the environmental costs behind everything we buy. It was meant to start a conversation about consumption and it’s certainly done that. For all of us that attend sustainability conferences, we regularly see this ad repurposed with the intention of starting the same conversation so in that regard it’s continually getting the message out to people and accomplishing that goal.

What made Patagonia decide to partner with yerdle

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for this year's anti Black Friday party?

Yerdle and Patagonia are really thinking along the same line of wanting to see good products put to use. Patagonia has been running a pilot program where we buy back our customers’ clothing in select Patagonia stores and clean it and put it up for sale again. What we’ve found is that people are really stoked to know that the Patagonia gear they are no longer using is going to go to someone who will put it to good use. Yerdle has been on the same mission of increasing the utility of stuff people own and we can identify with the spirit of the company and their goals.

Have you ever used yerdle to give or get something for free?

I love yerdle and regularly share things with my friends and neighbors. For example, with the growing popularity of juicing I decided to try and make my own concoctions at home and bought a juicer. The motivation was fairly short lived, but I’ve passed that juicer onto several other friends who had the same ambition and the juicer is currently in its third home!

For those who may not be familiar with it, what can you tell us about Worn Wear? What was the inspiration behind the campaign? Where can we learn more about it?

Patagonia’s mission statement is to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. To that end, we developed the Common Thread Partnership to help our customers extend the life of their Patagonia gear. Through the Common Threads Partnership we offer repair services through our retail stores, Reno service center, and now online with free repair guides we made in Partnership with iFixit. Our trade-in program (also dubbed Worn Wear) is available in our Seattle, Portland, Palo Alto, and Chicago stores where you can trade-in a Patagonia item you are no longer using and in exchange you’ll receive a credit with us. And if you do manage to wear out our gear, Patagonia accepts all of our gear back for recycling. We are really proud of the quality of clothing we make, but we also acknowledge that everything we make costs the earth more than the stated price — so one of the most responsible things we can do is to embrace our gear and encourage ourselves and our customers to keep on using it. Worn Wear, a new short film by Keith, Lauren, Chris and Dan Malloy, tells the stories of eight people and the well-loved, well-used pieces of Patagonia clothing that have become part of their lives. It’s about how the things we wear become treasured companions in our travels. But more than that, it's about learning to live more simply and resourcefully — and, ultimately, changing our dependence on disposable things. We are releasing it as an antidote to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy, Worn Wear will help us draw attention to the environmental impact of disposable consumerism. It’s an invitation to reimagine a world that isn't based on limitless consumption, greed, and growth, but rather one that takes only what nature can replace. It's a celebration of living happily, surrounded by the people and places we love.