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MEASURING FOOTPRINTS

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Jill Dumain, director of environmental analysis for the apparel company Patagonia, is investigating one of its T-shirt suppliers, Nature USA, for an initiative called the Footprint Chronicles, an effort to document and share with customers information about the environmental effects of every link in the supply chain. Going green is an increasingly big part of business these days, but you wouldn't expect Patagonia to have to worry much. Patagonia vowed to share whatever it found, good and bad. One positive surprise was the low energy expenditure of transporting its products, usually thought to be a dirty part of the process. Patagonia admits that its findings are limited; only the primary materials are traced, and no packaging is evaluated. It also allows that by putting production information in the public domain, it gives its competitors access too. Dumain concludes that the benefits of openness outweigh the costs, because the company wants to spur others to action.

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