The Cleanest Line


Announcing The Footprint Chronicles

Announcing The Footprint Chronicles

Sep 26, 2007 September 26, 2007

Footprint_site_2I love to cook and as I’ve ventured into new cuisines found myself with a whole new spice rack sporting names like fenugreek, nigella and star anise. I also found myself wanting a spice grinder to go with all these wonderful recipes but couldn’t bring myself to spend the money. My coffee grinder worked just fine; I just had to clean it out each time to get rid of the coffee taste.

One afternoon, with a rare few minutes free, I browsed through the sale section of a kitchen store: Lo and behold there was a coffee grinder for $5! No more cleaning before grinding. I plucked it off the shelf. But before I got to the counter I started thinking about our new project, The Footprint Chronicles

Did I really need a second grinder? Was its addition to my life worth the small but additional environmental cost?

Those are the questions we’ve been asking at Patagonia, as we started to look at the impact of our own rather sizeable footprint, beginning with a tight circle around our core facilities: offices, customer service center and retail stores. Quickly we realized that if we were to really be honest with ourselves about the impact we have as a company, we needed to branch out to include our supply chain. A daunting task at best.

We have begun. The Footprint Chronicles trace the environmentalpath, or much of the path, of five specific products from origin asfiber to delivery to our Reno warehouse. We estimate the carbon dioxidegenerated and distance traveled by each product.

When we got started, people gave us conflicting advice. Some said,"Just start, don’t let the magnitude paralyze you.” Others said, "Bevery careful and thorough if you’re going to say anything at all." Ithink we have landed somewhere in between. We have been very earnest inour attempt to show a picture of what it looks like behind the scenesbut we have a long way to go.

This project started as part of my responsibility as theEnvironmental Analysis Director for Patagonia but it’s carrying overinto my everyday life. I loved that lucky find in the kitchen store butafter a minute or two had to reconsider. It makes more sense to use theone grinder for two tasks. Alas, I’ll still be wiping off the coffeeresidue before I grind my spices.

[Editor’s note: The Footprint Chronicles lives in a new section of Patagonia.com called "Leading the Examined Life."Also available in this section: downloadable PDFs that talk about ourpaper policy, product care tips, baselayer packaging, the FootprintChronicles methodology, and the Footprint Chronicles references.]

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