We’ve Got a Repair Crush on Patagonia

Every tinkerer is an accidental environmentalist. Every fixer is waging an unwitting war against waste. Even if you repair just because you’d like to save money, even if you fix just because you enjoy it—when you fix something, you’re engaged in a small act that has much larger ecological significance. So says President and CEO of Patagonia, Rose Marcario.

“Fixing something we might otherwise throw away is almost inconceivable to many in the heyday of fast fashion and rapidly advancing technology, but the impact is enormous,” wrote Marcario today in Quartz.

Patagonia is an American outdoor clothing company. Founded in the 1970s by outdoorsman Yvon Chouinard, the company was one of the first in the clothing industry to embrace environmentally sustainable manufacturing practices. But they quickly realized that it’s not enough to just make clothes sustainably—you have to help keep them in use for as long as possible. Otherwise, your sustainably-made clothes get tossed into the trash.

We often talk about the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it lifecycle of small electronics—but low-quality, fast fashion clothing lines cycle through their lifetimes just as quickly. Some of the worst offenders might last for just a couple of washes before they fall apart. All those clothes pile up: Americans send upwards of 10.5 million tons of clothing to the landfill each year—only a small fraction of our used clothes are reused or recycled.

Rotting in a landfill isn’t the kind of future Patagonia planned for its clothes—and it’s not what they want for the planet either. So over the course of their company’s history, they’ve taken steps to mitigate waste. They make durable clothes–designed to last for decades. They celebrate the relationships that people have with their well-loved, well-traveled clothes on the blog Worn Wear. And because even the most durable of clothes can rip, Patagonia operates the largest garment repair facility in North America. It handles an astounding 40,000 individual repairs each year. (You can read about our visit to that facility here.)

Patagonia worn wear patch

Patagonia has also partnered with us to help teach regular people how to repair their Patagonia clothes. Those guides can be found both on Patagonia’s website and on ours. Heck, we’ll even teach you how to sew.

The goal of encouraging repair, for both Patagonia and for iFixit, is to empower people to move beyond mere consumerism—of the wasteful cycle of buying, using, and throwing away. We both want to give owners another option—a better option: repair. Whether you’re repairing your iPad or patching your jacket, you’re doing something good—for yourself, for your pocketbook, for the whole world.

“It’s a radical thought, but change can start with just a needle and thread,” says Marcario. We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves. Check out Marcario’s whole article here.