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Patagonia’s Anti-Consumerism Ad: Preachy or Refreshing?

Rather than whipping customers into a spending frenzy on Cyber Monday with outlandish online deals and bargains, Patagonia, the socially conscious outdoor-apparel company, implored customers to put their wallets away and not buy its products for a day. The company asked customers to reflect on the environmental cost of their consumption, and to “reimagine a world where we take only what nature can replace.”  Patagonia’s website featured an ad with its bestselling jacket under the words “Don’t Buy This Jacket” in all caps. The ad is part of their Common Threads Initiative to keep its clothing out of landfills by employing the four Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, and repair. The jacket is made of 60 percent recycled material, but as the ad points out, it required 135 liters of water to produce, and generated nearly twenty pounds of carbon dioxide plus two-thirds its weight in waste.

Some have found the ad to be sanctimonious, preachy, and contrived—Patagonia is in the business of selling stuff after all—but others feel the ad, and Patagonia’s less-is-more approach to retail, might be the sort of idealistic spark that an entrenched industry needs to change its wasteful ways. What do you think? Do you find Patagonia’s message inspiring or smug? 

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