100% for the Planet
Last Friday, shoppers drank deeply from the cup of consumerism in a retail phenomenon known as Black Friday. Being from a country where adjective+weekday first and foremost evokes notions of Bloody Sunday, this sounds positively terrifying. And it kind of is, this website has tracked the deaths and injuries linked to Black Friday since 2006. Aside from the awful things it causes humans to do to one another, it is one of the most sublime manifestations of the kind of reckless consumption which is crippling the planet. With such immense shopping, comes immense waste. I'm not above grabbing a bargain, when its something I'm actively seeking. Although even at that, I could probably do with narrowing my parameters of "need". Without going into too much pontificating...
Patagonia to the rescue! In a shrewd move which both engages with the spirit of things (i.e. sell tonnes of merchandise!) and fights its evils (i.e. help the planet!), they pledged to give 100% of in-store and online sales from Black Friday towards their grassroots grants. For over thirty years, Patagonia has pledged 1% of its sales to environmental groups. On the company's website, CEO Rose Marcario talked about this one-day drive in almost emergency terms; "In these divisive times, protecting what we all hold in common is more important than ever before." With this call to action, Patagonia's sales on Black Friday reached over ten million dollars, five times more than they had anticipated. Perhaps it was guilt-negating way for some shoppers to exercise their compulsions, or it was what finally convinced the tentative customers who has been eyeing up that parka for the last few months. Whatever it was, it will make a difference to many organizations working to protect the water, soil, and air in our communities. Even here in north-east Japan, two organizations have benefited from these grants. Check out this page on Patagonia's website to find projects in your region.
For businesses of any size, pledging to 1% For The Planet is low-maintenance way to demonstrate greater corporate responsibility, to engage with and support environmental advocates, and to attract loyal customers who shares these values. Re-purposing Black Friday as a "fundraiser for the earth" was masterful move by Patagonia, and I wish every one of those ten million dollars raised good luck in their next projects.