Patagonia always had a reputation for making durable, low-impact outdoor apparel, but the California label is taking its sustainable ethos one step further with the launch of Common Threads, an initiative that seeks to help consumers, well, consume less. Together with online-auction website eBay, Patagonia created a virtual swap meet on Wednesday for buying and selling used Patagonia gear—an unexpected retail model that’s a first for a major brand. The underlying message, one that underscores one of eBay’s core commandments, is clear: The greenest product is the one that already exists.

Patagonia, eBay, eBay Green Team, used clothing, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style

PATAGONIA x EBAY

“The Common Threads Initiative addresses a significant part of today’s environmental problem: the footprint of our stuff,” says Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder and owner. “This program first asks customers to not buy something if they don’t need it. If they do need it, we ask that they buy what will last a long time—and to repair what breaks, reuse, or resell whatever they don’t wear any more. And, finally, recycle whatever’s truly worn out.”

Not only will Patagonia be putting used clothes back into circulation, but it also won’t profit from any of the transactions.

The program is groundbreaking for several reasons. Not only will Patagonia be putting used clothes back into circulation, which could cannibalize new sales, but it also won’t profit from any of the transactions. Patagonia, Chouinard adds, is the first company to ask its customers to take a formal pledge to reduce consumption and keep products out of the landfill or incinerator.

“Most Patagonia products last longer than most people want or need them,” says Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia’s vice president of environmental initiatives. “Let’s reuse and recirculate those products! This program will provide everyone with the satisfaction that they are doing the right thing for the planet.”

If this is the next bandwagon, we can’t wait to see who climbs aboard next.

+ Common Threads Initiative

+ eBay