Why Buying Patagonia Gear Makes Me Happy
What does it feel like to work in a factory? Does it feel rewarding? Do I feel valued? Do I feel safe at my factory? Do I love where I work because of the amenities provided, the style of management, and the way I can provide for my family?
This video makes me think that I would be satisfied working in a place like that. Knowing that I can buy a piece of clothing that is giving someone the dignity of a job, in a good working environment, with a vision of prosperity for their family, adds to my purchase experience. This is right. This is good. I imagine that this is the way God would want business to be conducted.
Do you know any other companies that document where a garment was made? Have you seen the information on the product label or the website? I have done a lot of online shopping and in-store shopping, and yet I can't find this detailed of a manufacturing description anywhere. Patagonia’s footprint chronicles show the exact factories involved in each step of the production process. As a consumer, I could visit the factory where your item was made. This is unprecedented disclosure among large manufacturers.
Why does Patagonia do this? They claim it is because they are proud of how they treat their workers and the environment. They want everyone to know who made the garment and how it was made. They want to prove that a profitable business can be run without taking advantage of the workers and the community involved in the manufacturing of a product.
As a comparison, here is a shirt manufactured by a different company. There is little information on the materials. The only statement describing the shirt origin is "imported". To me, that indicates that the company does not want to reveal where or how or of what materials the shirt is made.
"Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. . - Ephesians 5:7-12
God wants us to be people of light. Sometimes it hurts to be exposed to the light. I know that the first time I turn on the light in the morning, I don't like it. I think with regret, "why did I do that?" Light reveals things we would rather ignore. Transparency shows that I'm not a perfect person. I try to hide my faults in the shadows where no one can see them.
As I learn to walk closer with Jesus, I am learning to love the light. I am learning that it is good when the light exposes the junk in my closet. It means that I can deal with it. When it is in the shadows, hidden from sight, it just sits there, never moving, always remaining.
When companies choose to expose their supply chains, it is a similar exercise. Processes can start to be evaluated. Adjustments made. What is in the shadows and never examined remains unfruitful.
Patagonia is setting an example by saying, "Look! This is what is happening to produce the shirt you just bought. We want you to know. We want you to know we are trying to improve our processes."
Caring for others is foundational to our faith, to our being. We love our neighbors.
At a wedding that I attended with my wife, the Officiant said something that I will always remember, "A good marriage is one where your spouse's joy is your joy. No longer will your joy be defined by what you get, but rather what joy you can give." I have experienced something similar through my purchases recently. Knowing that the workers who produced my clothing were well taken care of, paid fairly, treated with respect, provided with safe working conditions, adds to my joy. When I look in my closet at the clothes produced by Patagonia, I have a certain extra joy and fondness for them.
"And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:19-21
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