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Exploring Olympic National Park
Written By: Shayboarder
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It’s sad to say but I haven’t really explored Olympic National Park as much as I’d like – or at all. So when I had some downtime this weekend, I figured I would head to Ocean Shores for the weekend and spend some quality time exploring the Quinault region of Olympic National Park. I ventured [...]
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Greenland Vertical Sailing 2014 – Part 1, Warming up in Uummannaq and 24 hours on the wall
Written By: Patagonia
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By Nico Favresse, photos by the Wild Bunch

Nico_2
 

July 15, 2014—We are off again on an exciting adventure! Reverend Captain Bob Shepton is very excited to have the Wild Bunch—Sean Villanueva, Olivier Favresse, Ben Ditto and I—back on board the Dodo’s Delight for some jamming and big walls. Already four years have passed since our last expedition in Greenland with captain Bob. This time though we brought more musical instruments, more fishing equipment and more whiskey for our captain, all of which we hope will help us with our new assignment: testing the acoustics of some massive big walls located in the fjords on the east coast of Baffin Island.

We left Aasiaat one week ago and we’ve have had good moments so far but also harder ones. Yes, indeed, we missed the World Cup final and the ice hasn't melted enough for us to cross to the Baffin Island side. Our captain is becoming very impatient and we are afraid that he would be quite willing to take some risks for us to reach Baffin Island. If we did get stranded by the pack ice and its pressuring current, Dodo's Delight would most likely get crushed and sink. The good thing is that our captain is very familiar with that. He has two boats in Greenland, one of them he keeps below the water's surface!

Above: The ethic of our captain is very strict: There will be no bolts allowed on board!   

Four days of sailing with occasional stops for bouldering sessions brought us to the fjords of Uummannaq and its mountains. The ice cap and the ocean, filled with icebergs, look so unreal. It feels like we are on a different planet. There are some nice big walls here but it's not easy to evaluate the rock quality from a distance. So yesterday we decided to go have a closer look and attempt some climbing on a nice looking 400-meter wall right above the settlement of Ikerasak.

We split into two teams and went for two different lines. Ben and Oli chose the east ridge, a line that seemed not too risky or more suitable for committed married men (almost) while Sean and I chose the right prow with its overhanging headwall. The climbing turned out to be a lot better than we anticipated. The granite here is very rich in holds and fun to climb. There were also some sections of rotten rock but fortunately we found our way through it alive.

Now we are cooking up some organic, free-range local meat and look forward to a nice lunch for recuperation. We'll be in touch as the next exciting steps unfold. Stay tuned!

 

Nico_1
Greetings from the Wild Bunch and Reverend Captain Bob Shepton. We are very excited to be back. Four years have passed since our last time on Dodo's Delight.

 

Nico_3
What a nice surprise to be escorted by whales on our way out from Aasiaat!

 

Nico_4
Tricky sailing through the ice but pretty fun as long as we don't get stranded.

 

Nico_5
Fun climbing on these amazing overhanging cracks and dihedrals.

 

Nico_6
Our daily view of the fjords of the Uummannaq area.

 

Nico_7
Our first summit shot on this trip. Yeah!

 

August 1, 2014—It's raining but we aren't sleeping in today! The ice chart we received yesterday showed a very positive evolution in the ice melting over on Baffin Island so we are very excited. Now it's time for us to get ready to cross Baffin Bay.

We have just restocked with wine, whiskey and condensed milk. We have checked the sails, tightened up the cables of the mast and fixed everything well on the deck. Basically, for a crossing like this and with a fiberglass boat like we are on, you need to be ready for the worst to happen! We'll have to pay a lot of attention to icebergs and mermaids, especially if the thick fog settles in or the wind blows too hard, or if both happen at the same time. But we are ready for it, at least we think so!

 

Untitled-01277
What it’s like to sail on a rainy day in Greenland.

 

We are now really looking forward to the walls on Baffin Island. Our last climbing experience on this trip was pretty intense. As usual we sailed around and picked a wall to climb. How we choose the walls we climb is not always very rational. It definitely has some logical aspects like the steepness of the wall, the acoustics (for jamming), lines and rock quality. But it's also a general feeling about what looks appealing, and it tends to fluctuate. Some days you feel more confident and steep things don't seem so difficult, or a wall that looks loose can still catch our interest. It's all pretty dependent on our mental state and how we read it. Well, we must have been in a pretty high mental state when we chose to climb this last wall.

When we reached the base things that looked good from afar started to look different and way more intimidating. Me and Oli chose to aim for an obvious dihedral system while Ben and Sean chose a line of thin cracks and dihedrals. Right as I left the ground I understood the whole wall was shattered and it would be impossible to fully trust any of the holds or protections. I worked my way up about 20 meters and the rock began to crumble so I downclimbed and tried a different start. Again, I got about 20 meters up and got shut down by a bunch of loose flakes blocking my progress. Again I downclimbed and took a better look at the rock face. It all seemed loose so Oli and I opted to go fishing instead of climbing. This wall wasn't meant to be climbed by us. Somehow being confronted by your limits and accepting them is, for me, one of the most interesting parts of exploring new climbs. Of course, it wasn't without a little knot of uncertainty that we called our captain to come rescue us.


Untitled-01293
Oli approaching the wall with confidence. It looked good from afar, but far from good up close.

 

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Our daily source of protein.

 

Meanwhile, Ben and Sean managed to take off on their line with very little protection and lots of loose rock. Ben led half of one pitch and backed off the loose dangling blocks. From the ground we could hear him reasoning with Sean to bail, but Sean was too excited to bail: “No way man, it’s too good!” They committed to the wall and spent 24 hours battling through 500 meters of steep challenging choss. 

“For me, the climb was a metamorphosis,” says Ben. “At first I was super stressed about the risk of climbing such extreme choss, but soon I found a rhythm that allowed me to enjoy the climbing, thanks to Sean leading every pitch.” 

Sean had found his happy place among the maze of loose blocks and circuitous cracks. Though by the end, the continuous difficulty pushed him near his limit. We are a little worried because he has now expanded his capability of taming the inner beast and physical difficulties seem trivial. We aren't sure when he will again find this nirvana, but we hope it isn't soon—and not with any of us as his partner. 

The ascent was accompanied by a host of whales and dazzling lightshows that kept Ben entertained as he belayed Sean on the two-hour-plus leads. They compromised on a name for the route: No Place for Humans, aka, Sunshine and Roses.

We are glad they are back from their adventures safely, and we’re super psyched for the next stage. 

 

_DSC2769
Sean heads up the Funky Tower.

 

Untitled-01310
Ben and Sean on the second pitch of No Place for Humans, aka, Sunshine and Roses.

 

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Sean and Ben explore the meaning of life atop their new route.

 

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“Here is the heel hook, Bob.” Captain Bob works a new bouldering project.

 

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As the adventures unfold we will keep you posted.

 

Nico Favresse is a Patagonia ambassador from Brussels, Belgium. In 2010, the same crew—Nico, Sean Villanueva, Ben Ditto and Olivier Favresse—joined Captain Bob Shepton for a sailing trip through the fjords of Greenland, eventually crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Scotland. Along the way they found virgin big walls and a bunch of good climbing, including the Impossible Wall. If you missed it, check out our coverage and watch the five-part video series. 

 


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Trying to Be Responsible – Patagonia Environmental & Social Initiatives 2014
Written By: Patagonia
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By Jim Little

ENV14_TOC

We just finished our 2014 Environmental & Social Initiatives booklet and would love to share it with you. In it you’ll find a pretty comprehensive accounting of everything Patagonia did this year to conduct ourselves in an environmentally and socially conscious manner. The booklet includes stories about our efforts as a business and as individuals, and a list of all the environmental groups (770 of them working in 16 countries) we helped to support.

Above are some shots from the booklet’s table of contents to give you a taste of what lies within, and below the fold, an easy to digest number-by-number approach (ala Harper’s Index) that quantifies some of our work. If you’d like to dive in deeper, click the booklet at the end of this post and flip through the pages. We hope you enjoy!

Photos: (clockwise, top left-right) Eli Steltenpohl, Mikey Schaefer, Lindsay Walker, Tony Clevenger, Ben Knight. Artwork: Amanda Lenz 

 

IT ALL ADDS UP
QUANTIFYING SOME OF OUR ENVIRONMENTAL & SOCIAL WORK

61 MILLION: Dollars and in-kind services we’ve donated since tithing program began in 1985

6.6 MILLION: Dollars we donated this fiscal year to fund environmental work

10: Fair Trade Certified™ styles now in the Patagonia line

15 MILLION: Acres of degraded grassland we hope to restore in the Patagonia region of South America, by buying and supporting the purchase of sustainably grazed merino wool

$98,185.11: Amount given to nonprofits this year through our Employee Charity Match program

1,711: Hours this year employees at our Ventura and Reno campuses worked through company’s volunteer program

100: Percentage of Traceable Down (traceable to birds that were never live-plucked, never force-fed) we now use in our down products

7,162: Volunteer hours worked this year through the internship program

136: Number of employees who volunteered this year through our environmental internship program

20 MILLION & CHANGE: Dollars we’ve allocated to invest in environmentally and socially responsible companies

74: Number of activists and employees who received skills training this year at Patagonia’s bi-annual Tools for Grassroots Activists conference

770: Number of environmental groups that received a grant this year

100: Percentage of Patagonia products we take back for recycling

726,404: Single-driver car trip miles avoided this year through our Drive-Less program

100 MILLION: Dollars 1% for the Planet® has donated to nonprofit environmental groups since it was founded in 2002 by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and Craig Mathews

1996: Year we switched to the exclusive use of organically grown cotton

 


2014 Environmental & Social Initiatives booklet on Issuu. Download the PDF.

 


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Dirtbag Diaries Podcast: Mother's Have It Hardest
Written By: Patagonia
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By Fitz & Becca Cahall

Dbd_79_mothers_small

"I remember really quickly going from, 'Wow, I'm home, this feels great', to 'Holy s***, what did I do to my mom'?" says alpinist Kyle Dempster. "And that was the first time I saw how truly difficult it is for mothers."

Today, we bring you two stories—one from Hilary Oliver, and one from Kyle Dempster and his mother, Terry—about the struggle of loving an adventurer. The struggle between loving them so much that you don't want to see them hurt, and loving them so much that you want to support them in pursuing their dreams—in doing the things that make them tick.

This story was originally inspired by one of Kyle's blog posts by the same title. You can find more of Kyle's writing at Through My Eyes.

You can find Hilary's writing at TheGription.

 


Listen to "Mothers Have it Hardest" by The Dirtbag Diaries on Soundcloud.


Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to past episodes, featured music and to pledge your support. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, RSS, SoundCloud and Stitcher, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter. The Dirtbag Diaries is a Duct Tape Then Beer production.

[Graphic by Walker Cahall]

 


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A River Reborn – Floating the Elwha River after dam removal
Written By: Patagonia
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By Dylan Tomine

Elwha_crack

It’s difficult to put into words exactly how it feels to experience the newly free Elwha River. Gratitude, for sure, for all the people and organizations who put so much into bringing the dams down. And awe, as nature takes over and the river finds it’s new-old path to the sea. And fun, of course, to be there taking it all in with my good friend and DamNation producer/underwater photographer, Matt Stoecker.

We floated the Elwha under crazy blue skies and warm air, with the winners of the Patagonia/DamNation photo contest and our gracious hosts from Olympic Raft & Kayak. All around amazing experience. Despite what the dam-removal critics said, the sediment load in the water has settled out quickly, leaving the water clear, with the slight milky, blue-green tint one expects of a glacial river in summertime.

Above: A painted crack and message on Glines Canyon Dam foreshadowed its removal over two decades later. Elwha River, Olympic National Park, Washington in a scene from DamNation. Photo: Mikal Jakubal

As we came into the former reservoir zone above the lower dam site, I was blown away to look up 40 feet above us and see the old water line still clearly defined on the rocks and trees. It was like finding a river at the bottom of a lake, which is essentially what’s happened here.

At the actual dam site, after much discussion and scouting, we decided to become the first commercial trip Olympic Raft & Kayak had taken down through what they’ve named That Dam Rapid. A short, steep, highly technical Class 4 drop through what used to be Elwha Dam proved to be as hairy as it looked, and provided plenty of adrenaline to jolt us out of the all the dreamy wonder and gratitude we were feeling. Great ride, and a perfect end to the float.

 

Elwhariffle
Tom O’Keefe of American Whitewater scouting the riffle on the Elwha. Photo: Dylan Tomine
 

Elwhadamsite
The earthen berm where the Elwha Dam once stood, viewed from just upstream. Photo: Dylan Tomine

 

Elwha-sideways
Shooting the newly named That Dam Rapid (IV) at the former dam site. That’s me in the port bow, shortly before getting launched. Photo: Olympic Raft & Kayak

 

That night, Olympic Raft & Kayak hosted an outdoor screening of DamNation in the warm and amazingly, for the Olympic Peninsula, dry summer night. Mikal Jakobal, the activist who painted the now-famous crack on the dam here back in 1987, made a surprise appearance, much to the crowd’s delight.

Finally, the next day, Matt and I drove down to the where the Elwha runs into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This was, perhaps, the most tangible evidence of a river reborn, and an uplifting view of what a free river is supposed to do. Instead of the river channel running straight into saltwater along a sterile, clean-cobble beach as it once was, the Elwha had built a tremendous delta. Sediment, trapped behind the dams for 100 years, is now creating a complex system of barrier islands, sloughs, ponds and wetlands. The most perfect juvenile salmon habitat imaginable. We stood there in the wind, absorbing what it all means and feeling the uplift of a rare and valuable victory.

 

Elwhadelta
New sandbars forming at the mouth of the Elwha—ideal juvenile salmon habitat. Photo: Dylan Tomine

 

Dylan Tomine is a Patagonia fly fishing ambassador and the author of Closer to the Ground: An Outdoor Family’s Year On The Water, In The Woods and At The Table. He lives on the coast of Washington with his wife and two kids. You can read an excerpt from Dylan’s book right here on The Cleanest Line or check out Dylan’s blog (the origin of today's post) for more musings on family, foraging and fly fishing in the northwest.

Thanks to everyone who entered DamNation film’s #thatdamcontest. There were a ton of entires and we struggled to pick a winner. Here are the photos from the finalists and eventual winner, @mikfish.

 


Grand prize winner @mikfish. We chose this photo not for what it shows, but for what it hides. Submerged below the waterline is Hetch Hetchy Valley a place described by John Muir as "one of nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples." The valley can be restored to its former grandeur if O'Shaughnessy Dam is removed, and our friends at Restore Hetch Hetchy are working to make it happen. Please join them.

 


Finalist @amylee1837.

 


Finalist @lauragus.

 


Finalist @brysonmalone.

 


Finalist @radalie. Photo by @ursus_maritimus_.

 

You can browse all of the entries at damnationfilm.com/contest.

To our international readers, the DamNation crew is currently working on the international release of the film. Follow DamNation on Facebook or Twitter for updates, and thanks for your patience.       

 


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A River Reborn – Floating the Elwha River after dam removal
Written By: Patagonia
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By Dylan Tomine

Elwha_crack

It’s difficult to put into words exactly how it feels to experience the newly free Elwha River. Gratitude, for sure, for all the people and organizations who put so much into bringing the dams down. And awe, as nature takes over and the river finds it’s new-old path to the sea. And fun, of course, to be there taking it all in with my good friend and DamNation producer/underwater photographer, Matt Stoecker.

We floated the Elwha under crazy blue skies and warm air, with the winners of the Patagonia/DamNation photo contest and our gracious hosts from Olympic Raft & Kayak. All around amazing experience. Despite what the dam-removal critics said, the sediment load in the water has settled out quickly, leaving the water clear, with the slight milky, blue-green tint one expects of a glacial river in summertime.

Above: A painted crack and message on Glines Canyon Dam foreshadowed its removal over two decades later. Elwha River, Olympic National Park, Washington in a scene from DamNation. Photo: Mikal Jakubal

As we came into the former reservoir zone above the lower dam site, I was blown away to look up 40 feet above us and see the old water line still clearly defined on the rocks and trees. It was like finding a river at the bottom of a lake, which is essentially what’s happened here.

At the actual dam site, after much discussion and scouting, we decided to become the first commercial trip Olympic Raft & Kayak had taken down through what they’ve named That Dam Rapid. A short, steep, highly technical Class 4 drop through what used to be Elwha Dam proved to be as hairy as it looked, and provided plenty of adrenaline to jolt us out of the all the dreamy wonder and gratitude we were feeling. Great ride, and a perfect end to the float.

 

Elwhariffle
Elwha riffle. Photo: Dylan Tomine
 

Elwhadamsite
Elwha dam site, just above the rapids. Photo: Dylan Tomine

 

Elwha-sideways
Tackling That Dam Rapid (IV). Photo: Olympic Raft & Kayak

 

That night, Olympic Raft & Kayak hosted an outdoor screening of DamNation in the warm and amazingly, for the Olympic Peninsula, dry summer night. Mikal Jakobal, the activist who painted the now-famous crack on the dam here back in 1987, made a surprise appearance, much to the crowd’s delight.

Finally, the next day, Matt and I drove down to the where the Elwha runs into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This was, perhaps, the most tangible evidence of a river reborn, and an uplifting view of what a free river is supposed to do. Instead of the river channel running straight into saltwater along a sterile, clean-cobble beach as it once was, the Elwha had built a tremendous delta. Sediment, trapped behind the dams for 100 years, is now creating a complex system of barrier islands, sloughs, ponds and wetlands. The most perfect juvenile salmon habitat imaginable. We stood there in the wind, absorbing what it all means and feeling the uplift of a rare and valuable victory.

 

Elwhadelta
Delta at the mouth of the Elwha River. Photo: Dylan Tomine

 

Dylan Tomine is a Patagonia fly fishing ambassador and the author of Closer to the Ground: An Outdoor Family’s Year On The Water, In The Woods and At The Table. He lives on the coast of Washington with his wife and two kids. You can read an excerpt from Dylan’s book right here on The Cleanest Line or check out Dylan’s blog (the origin of today's post) for more musings on family, foraging and fly fishing in the northwest.

Thanks to everyone who entered DamNation film’s #thatdamcontest. There were a ton of entires and we struggled to pick a winner. Here are the photos from the finalists and eventual winner, @mikfish.

 


Grand prize winner @mikfish. We chose this photo not for what it shows, but for what it hides. Submerged below the waterline is Hetch Hetchy Valley a place described by John Muir as "one of nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples." The valley can be restored to its former grandeur if O'Shaughnessy Dam is removed, and our friends at Restore Hetch Hetchy are working to make it happen. Please join them.

 


Finalist @amylee1837.

 


Finalist @lauragus.

 


Finalist @brysonmalone.

 


Finalist @radalie.

 

You can browse all of the entries at damnationfilm.com/contest.

To our international readers, the DamNation crew is currently working on the international release of the film. Follow DamNation on Facebook or Twitter for updates, and thanks for your patience.       

 


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2014 Bike to Work Week Recap
Written By: Patagonia
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Image1

Reno Recap

By Gavin Back

The numbers are in from Patagonia’s Bike to Work Week and this was the Reno DC’s best year yet!

We had a total of 118 people riding for a total of 4,550 miles ridden. This means a total of $4,550 donated to an awesome local non-profit, the Kiwanis Club. Kiwanis seeks to promote cycling and bike safety, and distributes bikes to children in the Reno area. We would like to thank the members of Kiwanis who took time to visit the Reno DC prior to Bike to Work Week and helped Casey and Eric tune our bikes. All four of you did a great job keeping us safe on the road—thank you.

Despite bragging being somewhat gauche: Ventura, you guys need to step it up!

To put the efforts of the Reno riders into perspective, consider that there are roughly four times more Patagonia employees in Ventura than Reno yet we cycled a little over three times as many miles. And distance to work is no defense, Reno riders averaged twice as many miles as Ventura, with at least two people in Reno cycling over 30 miles per day. The daily Bike Bus, organized by Brenden, provided newer cyclists a fun environment to commute with more experienced cyclists, and be shown quick, safe and attractive routes to work.

Ventura, the Reno DC B2WW committee hereby formally challenges you all to “bring it on” next year. The more you ride, the more your environment benefits, the more money your local bike non-profit receives and the less embarrassing the Cleanest Line blog posts!

Below is a video summery of our week and photos of our prize winners. We had a lot of fun between breakfasts provided by different departments, swag for riders and the 2nd Annual Fix-a-Flat race hosted by Celia Johnson and won by Chad Swanson. One of the highlights of the week was Dan Malloy’s visit to the Reno DC and the presentation of his movie, Slow is Fast. If you haven’t seen it yet, everyone here highly recommends watching it.

The week was wrapped up with a big party and a Pirate Relay Race, and in true pirate fashion there was rum, chaos and blood! The winning teams were Ashley, Eric and Adam in first place; Sarah, Jenna and Ethel in second place; and Kamil, Ray and Jaimie in third place. We were entertained by the DC’s own bluegrass band, Goathead Revival—surely a reference to the devilish thorns that are the bane of Reno cyclists.

 

Image2

 

We had a huge array of raffle prizes, too many to list the individual winners, but we would like to extend a huge thank you to all our sponsors:

Nite Rider
Reno Aces
Klean Kanteen
Timbuk2
LÄRABAR
Juniper Ridge
Amazing Grass
Honey Stinger
Planet Bike

 

Image3

 

Image3b

 

Image4

 

We had two grand prizes of bikes donated by Kiwanis and Velo Reno. To qualify, riders had to ride to work every day during bike to work week. The winner of the beautifully restored cruiser bike donated by Kiwanis was Chelsea Sauls in the repairs department, and the winner of the fantastic Giant Escape City commuter bike donated by Velo Reno was Erik Krahn in customer service. We had a fantastic turnout so competition for the bikes was high! We would like to extend a massive thank you to Kiwanis and Velo Reno for their generous help and support.

 

Image5

 

Please enjoy the video put together by Tyler...

If you want to check out more or Tyler’s images, check out his personal blog: tylerdkeck.blogspot.com.

We look forward to next year’s event, and as Chris Miles of Goathead Revival fame said: “If you can ride all week, you can ride all summer.”

 

 

 

Retail Recap

By Cory Gould

Retail_1a
Top left: Gang from Washington, DC. Middle left: Chillin’ in Toronto. Bottom left: Hands up in Ventura. Top right: Sunshine in Haleiwa. Bottom right: Doubling in Cardiff.

 

Another Bike to Work Week for Patagonia has come and gone, but many of us who work in the retail stores continue to enjoy our human-powered modes of transportation long after this week of celebration ends. We bike, we walk, we run, we board or blade—some of us all year round—because we crave to be outside and love the lifestyle.

 

Retail_2a
Top left: The Ventura crew enjoying their rides. Top right: The crew at Santa Cruz showing off their wheels. Bottom: Santa Monica crew just chillin'.

 

It has been another successful year as we pulled in a total of 8,218 miles for the retail stores. As part of our commitment to community engagement and environmental activism, all those miles spent pedaling our bikes through traffic, walking the streets or rolling down the beachfront, add up to $13,618 of grant money to local cycling groups.

 

Retail_3a
Top left: Santa Monica Spoke. Top right: Bike Utah. Middle left: Community Cycles Boulder. Middle right: Austin B-Cycle. Bottom: Cycle on Hawaii.

 

With many of the cities we work in participating in their own bike month or bike to work days, it seems as though the momentum is making a shift towards more livable communities. We need to continue to support these cycling advocacy groups in order to keep this momentum going.

We are very grateful that we work for a company that supports the development of a cycling culture within its stores and promotes the use of human-powered transportation in various ways.

A few shoutouts to Freeport for cruising to a total of 1,260 miles for the week and to SoHo, Toronto and Bowery stores for 100% participation!

 

Image9
Cruising to the Bowery store.

Lastly, a big thanks to the BTWW committee and all the point people who made this year great! Keep riding, keep cruising and enjoy every moment.

 

 

 

Ventura Recap

By Paul Hendricks

Bikes

B2WW 2014 was another great one in Ventura. The bike racks were full and the parking lot had plenty of open spaces throughout the week. This year, the riders at the Ventura HQ biked 1,434 miles. Despite not beating our very collegial and gracious colleagues up in Reno, this was a 36% increase from last year, so we’ll take it.

We had a number of great events on campus that inspired more sustainable commuting and rewarded those who put some pedal power to their commute. Each day, local vendors (and the accounting department who always comes through) provided breakfast for the riders. Thanks to Patagonia Provisions, Citizen Juice, Justin’s Peanut Butter, Sambazon, and Kate’s Breads for providing great eats all week.

The B2WW Committee stepped it up a notch this year and planned great events throughout the week including beer and movies (The Road to Karakol and Fixation), a Bike Swap, a fiesta capped with taquitos and cerveza from Kona Brewing Company, a critical mass ride for fish tacos on the pier, and mimosas and baked goods (apparently we took the “B” in B2WW to mean both bike and beer). We also have to send a huge thanks to our friends at the local Trek shop who put in LONG hours tuning up all of our bikes for free.

 

Critical Mass Ride

It also wouldn’t be B2WW in Ventura without our child development center decorating campus and showing us all how fun it can be to ride your bike.

 

Bike Wash

 

Free Ride


While riders were stoked out with free swag for riding in all week, the big winner was our local bike advocacy group, VCCOOL, who received $1 for each mile we rode throughout the work. Thanks to VCCOOL for all the great work you do making biking more accessible and safe in the area.

A big shout out goes to our B2WW Committee for knocking it out of the park this year:

Allison Allen
Amanda Russell
Ben Galphin
Chipper Bro
Chris Kaiser
Corey Simpson
Courtney Merrit
Lane Bussa
Lindsey Kern
Marcela Riojas
Matt Dwyer
Ryan Thompson
Tracy On

And, a special shout out goes to our rock star rider, Bug, who rode 30 miles every day!

B2WW Sign

 


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Solutions Series, Part 5: Taking Action
Written By: Patagonia
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By Annie Leonard

Annie_bio_photo

In my last essay, I talked about an updated vision of environmental changemaking, one that recognizes that many businesses are potential allies in the transformation to a responsible sustainable economy. Not all businesses, mind you, but a good number really do want clean energy, safe products, and decently paid workers. This time, we’ll talk about what we can all do to scale up these kinds of solutions, whether we work within a business or we use its products and services.

When I talk to all kinds of people working to make today’s companies more sustainable, often they’re focused on getting the public to change their shopping habits. If people refuse to buy toxic junk, the thinking goes, companies won’t make it anymore. The theory here is that consumers control the manufacturers and we can change business-as-usual just by shopping differently because companies are just making what people demand.

Baloney. What mom is demanding her kids’ pajamas be pre-treated with neurotoxic flame retardants? Who’s asking for sunscreen with carcinogens? Before Apple spent billions advertising iPhones, who felt the need to buy a new phone every six months? Are any of these production decisions really driven by consumer demand? The real drivers behind toxic-containing or unsustainable production are out-of-date regulations and skewed economic rules that make it cheaper and more profitable—and thus more attractive in the short term—to make unhealthy and unsustainable stuff.

Of course, to truly ensure that businesses are a source of solutions rather than pollution, we need to engage not just businesses but government legislators and regulators too. They are the ones able to change today’s rules which support unsustainable products, level the playing field and open the floodgates for sustainable innovation in businesses. In my next set of essays, I’ll share some thoughts and action ideas to make our government step up and support a responsible, healthy and fair economy, but for now, let’s get back to building solutions in businesses.

Whether you work in a business, or just use its services and products, there are many ways to help advance solutions.

Making change from within a business:

  • Walk the talk. Make sure your operations are powered by renewable energy, your buildings use green materials, your workers are paid a living wage, and the goods or services you sell are safe, sustainable, healthy and easy to upgrade, repair and recycle or compost at the end of their lives. Then look at your supply chain. Where do your raw materials come from? Are the workers and communities at the source treated fairly? If not, figure out how to change things.
  • Do your homework. It may be a challenge to figure out if your business or suppliers are on the path to sustainability. Don’t worry—there are lots of resources available to help you grade your efforts and raise the bar. The Healthy Buildings Network will help you make the best decisions about your operations and facilities. The Biz-NGO Working Group will help you find substitutes for hazardous chemicals and products. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is made up of hundreds of clothing companies working to better understand and lessen the impacts of their supply chains.
  • Join the movement for solutions. Just as in citizen movements, the voices of business advocates for sustainability are louder when joined together. Join the American Sustainable Business Council, a national partnership representing thousands of businesses whose leaders want a better future. Likewise, bow out of business associations, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the American Legislative Exchange Council, that are obstructing the solutions to the climate crisis, inequality and other problems.  

Making change from outside a business:

What about the other side of the cash register? Customers can promote solutions in businesses with a carrot or a stick. Which is most effective depends largely on the businesses—some respond to carrots, others to sticks. Take the approach most likely to bring the most change.

  • The carrot: We should reward enterprises that are environmental and social leaders not only with our business but also our recognition. Whether it’s a restaurant, hotel, clothing company or any business, sending a tweet, email or letter thanking them for reducing energy use, eliminating excess packaging, replacing toxic chemicals or paying workers fairly will help the company leaders see that their policies are appreciated and good for business. Some folks who want to reinforce good corporate behavior are joining forces to amplify their impact. Check out Carrotmob, which mobilizes people to support businesses implementing something the members care about, like switching to renewable energy. Just be careful: A lot of companies announce green initiatives but don’t follow through on them. Don’t be fooled by greenwashing. (See stopgreenwash.org to learn more.)
  • The stick: Sometimes companies don’t respond to polite requests, customer calls for greener products or even scientific evidence of the harm their products or operations cause. Then we have to get tough. Many activist organizations today are skilled at market campaigns that push businesses to improve practices right away, even while working for government to pass legislation requiring the change. Rainforest Action Network campaigns get companies to protect forests and use clean energy. Safe Markets is a coalition of environmental and health groups that work to shift businesses away from hazardous chemicals and towards safer ones. Corporate Accountability International campaigns to pressure corporations on a range of issues, from selling tobacco to privatizing public water systems.

Too many modern corporations see their responsibility as limited to returning the highest possible profits to their shareholders. And too many of their customers feel like there is nothing they can do to influence corporate behavior except change how we shop. Both views are short-sighted. What we need are corporate leaders who will use their resources to seek solutions to the problems plaguing the planet, and citizens who will come together to not only condemn bad-actor companies but also recognize the ones who are doing the right thing while working together to change the rules so that the most sustainable and fairer options become the new business-as-usual.


Annie Leonard is the founder of the The Story of Stuff Project and the new executive director of Greenpeace USA. She has dedicated nearly two decades of her life to investigating and reporting on environmental health and justice issues. Her podcast, The Good Stuff, features interviews with inspiring activists, entrepreneurs, scientists and others who’ve succeeded in making change.

Read the entire Solutions series:
Solutions Series, Part 1: Babies in the River
Solutions Series, Part 2: Solutions in Our Communities
Solutions Series, Part 3: Dive In
Solutions Series, Part 4: Solutions in Business
Solutions Series, Part 5: Taking Action
Solutions Series, Part 6: coming soon



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Thai Boxing
Written By: Patagonia
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By Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll

Sean_3

“Climb it for me!” he yelled as I walked out of the hospital room.

I gladly would if I could, I thought to myself, but this one might just be too hard. I can’t make any promises.

A few days earlier, after a nice enjoyable day of climbing, we were heading back to my friend Sasha’s house to cook up some grub. He was on his motorbike, I was driving his van. Life was sweet. In a split second everything changed. An old man came out from a side road and didn’t see the motorbike coming.

We had some good adventures lined up for the week, but now Sasha was going to spend the next few months without the use of his arms and left leg. Despite this huge setback it was inspiring to see his conviction to fight his way back to good health—a true warrior.

While he sat in a hospital bed, I was going back for a Thai Boxing match in which I had been knocked out the day before.

Above: Ready? Fight! Sean goes toe-to-stone with Thai Boxing. All photos: Colette McInerney

The notorious offwidth Thai Boxing in Buet, near Chamonix, looks easy enough from the ground. It’s such an obvious feature: a wide, slanting, slightly overhanging crack, too wide to jam a fist but not wide enough to get your hips in and climb it as a squeeze chimney. Offwidth climbing requires a specific arsenal of techniques and its own type of physical effort. Thai Boxing is considered to be one of the hardest offwidths in Europe.

The first time I tried it I couldn’t move my body upward no matter how hard I tried. I was slammed into the ropes, knocked to the canvas. I returned to the ground without even reaching the anchor, my ego crushed. I love these sorts of setbacks. They’re humbling; they put me right back to square one; they expand my reference point; they force me to open up, to be a beginner again. Even my climbing partner for the day and good friend, Mason Earl, who has a good bit more offwidth experience than I do—and from whom, in the past, I had already learned an awful lot about offwidth climbing—even he received a proper beating on his first go.

 

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The route was first climbed by American offwidth specialist Craig Lueben, inventor of the Big Bro expanding chock cube for protecting wide cracks. He rated it 5.12c (French 7b+). Then it was repeated by strong British climber Stevie Haston who says he finds it harder than the bolted 8a on the same crag.

A few years later, some French locals, who thought it had never been climbed, bolted it, and a French grade up to 8b+ (5.14a) was mentioned. “I can only imagine the insane gastoning that must be going on,” Craig Lueben stated in an interview. It’s hard to speak Chinese when you don’t know any Chinese words.

In 2010, offwidth maestros Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall repeated the route on gear, and chopped the bolts bringing it back to its original grandeur. They say it might be harder than the reference route, Belly Full of Bad Berries (5.13a), in Indian Creek. Numbers are only numbers.

Eighteen-year-old French sport climber Enzo Oddo did an impressive ascent of the route in 2013, climbing it on his second go! Well, this is coming from a kid who climbed Biographie (9a+) when he was 15. But offwidth climbing is so different from sport climbing, this just shows how well rounded he is. On his first try, he quickly noticed that he wasn’t wearing the right shoes for this sort of jamming. So he lowered down, got straight back on with a different pair of shoes, and sent!

When I returned for my rematch, I was willing to learn but prepared to accept another beating. The first few attempts I didn’t feel much. I wasn’t making any progress and my whole body felt like jelly. Then I thought of my pal who was suffering in pain. He had a bad reaction to the medication and could no longer take any morphine.

What a total shit situation! In a split second it could happen to any of us. These sorts of misfortunes really make me realize how fortunate we are to be in good health, and the importance of enjoying every moment and to love life.

 

Sean_2

 

So I gave Thai Boxing one last try. Dodgy double fists, insecure chicken wings, and assertive knee scums slowly saw me moving upwards. There were a few moments I felt I was slipping out, but with encouragement from my good friend Mike who was belaying me, my mind stayed strong and did not let go. The impassable section of rock became a challenge to find solutions. I took my time, measuring my effort and keeping my mind open. It was a half-an-hour battle but I managed to get to the top! As I clipped the anchor I felt both nauseous and happy. What an awesome route!

I wish my friend strength, courage and a speedy and full recovery!

 

Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll believes he didn’t choose to climb, climbing chose him. His first expedition to Patagonia was a turning point in his life because he felt utterly connected with the forces of nature and the adventure of just being alive. Climbing teaches Sean to live life to the fullest and that he can do whatever he wants if he puts his mind to it. 

For more, check out some of our previous posts featuring Sean: Jungle JammingGreenland Vertical SailingBaffin Island and Patagonia.


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Patagonia’s Plastic Packaging – A study on the challenges of garment delivery
Written By: Patagonia
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By Nellie Cohen & Elissa Loughman

IMG_5532_3

Patagonia’s finished goods factories package each individual product we make in a polybag. Some of our direct customers (people who order from our catalog or Patagonia.com) have expressed disappointment in the amount of waste generated by polybags. This customer feedback inspired us to investigate ways to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated from Patagonia’s product packaging.

Editor’s note: The tone of today’s post is a bit formal due to its origins as an internal case study. It’s a good look into the workings of our company and the challenging decisions we’re faced with as we try to balance customer satisfaction with environmental impact.

In order to evaluate how Patagonia can reduce plastic in our supply chain we conducted several tests at our Distribution Center (DC) and surveyed our customers. Through this study, we determined that polybags are critical to insuring that garments stay clean from the finished goods factory through the DC. If we eliminated the use of polybags, garments would be damaged, resulting in both financial and environmental costs. Energy, water and resources are used to make each product and we want them to be worn. A damaged product that is unwearable has a far greater environmental cost than manufacturing a polybag.

We invite you to read on to see our progress in examining this area of our distribution process and how we’re working through potential ways to lessen our impact going forward, while making sure our products reach you undamaged.

Above: A look inside the Patagonia DC in Reno, Nevada. Products are picked in the warehouse, sent to packing stations and then to outbound mail via conveyor belts. This system allows us to ship packages with the greatest efficiency, especially during busy periods like sales and holidays. All photos: Nellie Cohen

 

Background

Each Patagonia product we sell is packaged in a polybag at the finished goods factory and arrives at our DC in cartons. The boxes that arrive from the factories are often broken, torn, or open upon arrival. This exposes finished products to dirt, moisture and damage.

The polybag protects the product from becoming dirty or damaged at the factory, during transit to the DC and while the product is stored, processed and packed at the DC. Additionally, the polybags keep stored products clean in the wholesale and retail environments.

It is essential for the product to remain protected in each of these supply chain steps. Currently, Patagonia does not have specific requirements for the size and type of polybags used by our finished goods factories and the polybags in use do not contain recycled content. Despite the functionality of polybags, they are perceived as waste by many customers and employees.

 

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Shipping journeys can be perilous.

 

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Polybags protect our products even if the box is damaged in transit.

 

 

Summary of Objectives & Results

Objective: Determine if it is possible to completely eliminate the use of polybags without incurring damage to products that would make them unsellable.

Result: Products were damaged when they were run through the shipping system in Reno without a polybag. In our experiments, about 30% of garments that went through the system without polybags were damaged beyond the point of being sellable. This indicated that it is not possible to process products in the Reno DC without polybags.

 

IMG_5652
Test: We ran 40 unbagged, tied products through the Reno picking system in order to measure the damage incurred. All of the products were returns from the retail stores in pristine condition with hang tags attached. We folded and tied each of the 40 products with paper ribbon and placed the pick labels on both the product and the hang tag to determine where it was most effective.

 

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Taking the ride.

 

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17 of 40 products (42.5%) fell out of the tie by the time they arrived at the packing station.

 

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12 of 40 products (30%) showed visible signs of damage and dirt by the time they reached the packing station.

 

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We also found the placement of the pick label to be a challenge. We placed the pick labels on both the product and the hang tag to determine where it was most effective. The pick label did not stick to 12 of the 40 materials. In a real product order, the pick label cannot be placed on the hang tag because it will cover up the bar code for the product that must also be scanned in the outbound product packing process.

 

 

Objective: Determine if paper mailers are effective shipping containers in order to eliminate the use of plastic mailers.

Our current plastic mailers are made of 40% post-consumer waste (PCW) content and were down-gauged from 3.5 to 2.5 millimeters which reduced our plastic use by 30%. Our mailer bags are recyclable, but usually must be taken to specific receptacles for plastic film recycling, such as those located in grocery stores.

Result: Both brands of paper mailers we tried suffered considerable damage prior to leaving Reno. Damage included separated seams and tearing, and mailing labels peeled off several orders.

 

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Test: In an effort to find a way to eliminate plastic in our mailing containers we selected two brands of paper mailers to test. 

 

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Both options were 100% paper, did not contain any plastic or fiberglass inner structure, were lightweight to minimize shipping costs and would be completely recyclable in common curbside recycling systems.

 

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We used three sizes of each brand in our tests. We documented the journey of the paper mailers through the Reno system from packing station to their exit and respective mail carriers.

 

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We encountered problems with these bags before they left the DC.

 

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A hole like this could soil an unbagged garment during shipping. 

 

 

Objective: Determine if it is possible for the Reno DC to remove polybags before shipping customer orders without damaging products. This will enable Patagonia to retain and recycle more plastic bags.

Result: It is possible to remove polybags before shipping customer orders, but it takes time to remove each polybag. When we extrapolated this time across an entire calendar year we estimated that it will take an additional 5,555 hours of work per year in labor to unbag every product we send.

 

IMG_5617
Removing the bag and refolding the garment at the shipping station.

 

 

Objective: Survey our customers to determine if they prefer to receive products in polybags or if they prefer to receive products that aren’t packaged in polybags.

Result: Only 22% of our customers viewed our packaging as environmentally friendly, we did however, see a 14% increase in customer satisfaction when we used paper mailers and removed polybags. The general trends that emerged from both surveys were (1) our current packaging is very effective with 99% of garments arriving in perfect condition (2) people try to recycle or reuse our packaging (3) customers are unclear if the packaging is recyclable and (4) they want to recycle our packaging.

 

Graph

 

 

Objective: Quantify the amount of additional polybags that can be recycled if products are shipped to customers without polybags.

Result: An estimated 50,000 pounds of plastic can be retained in Reno each year. If we are able to decrease the size of our polybags (see next Objective), the quantity of plastic will decrease.

 

IMG_5616

 

 

Objective: Investigate how Patagonia can reduce the amount of plastic it currently uses in packaging products.

Result: Folding products into smaller shapes would enable us to reduce the size of the polybag required for each product. Initial work shows that this can result in nearly a 50% reduction in plastic weight on a per product level.

 

Fold

 

 

Recommendations

As you can see, there are several ways we might reduce plastic waste within our system in the future. We're currently looking into the feasibility of implementing these recommendations, and we're always searching for new alternatives. We know some companies out there have found solutions that work for their unique distribution systems, all with varying sizes and complexities—prAna being a good example—and we’re also looking to learn from them. We’ll keep you posted on our progress. 

1. Continue to use polybags at the factory level. We found that polybags are an effective barrier to damage that can occur during shipping and while going through the Reno picking system. A damaged product that is unwearable has a far greater environmental cost than manufacturing a polybag.

2. Reduce the size of polybags used. Many of our products are packaged in polybags that are far larger than the product. We recommend implementing packaging and folding guidelines at the finished goods factory level that require a reduction in the size of polybags.

3. Do not use paper mailers. We found that the two types of paper mailers we tested were barely strong enough to survive the journey through the DC. We expect that they will not consistently reach customers unharmed.

4. Continue to recycle all polybags collected in the DC. Baling the polybags that are collected in Reno is key to minimizing the waste we produce.

5. Educate our customers. The survey responses inspired an unexpected recommendation which is to provide our customers with more information about how to recycle their packaging.

6. Source recycled polybags. By using recycled polybags we can reduce the amount of virgin petroleum we use in our packaging. We have started investigating the potential to source recycled polybags.

7. Increase polybag recycling at wholesale dealers. We have a tremendous opportunity to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up as waste by working with our wholesale dealers to ensure that polybags are recycled.

 

 

Nice study, but how do I recycle the polybag that protected my Patagonia fleece?

Customers who don't have curbside options for recycling polybags are welcome to do the following.

1. Mail them back to us for recycling:

Patagonia Service Center
ATTN: Common Threads Recycling Program
8550 White Fir Street
Reno, NV 89523-8939

2. Drop them off at the Patagonia Retail Store nearest you—ideally, while you're running other errands, to reduce environmental impact.

Both of these options apply to Patagonia garment recycling as well.

3. Many grocery stores take back plastic bags and the bags we use can be recycled in a grocery store recycling stream. Follow this link and enter your zip code to find a plastic bag recycling location near you.    

 

IMG_5704
Thanks to everyone at the DC for accommodating us while we performed these tests. 

 

Nellie Cohen is Product Responsibility Analyst and Elissa Loughman is Manager of Product Responsibility for Patagonia. They work on special projects related to Corporate Responsibility and Environmental Assessment

 


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