That's why I was so delighted to wake up this morning and find this ad from Patagonia staring me right in the face.
The "Don't Buy This Jacket" ad is part of Patagonia's Common Threads Initiative that encourages consumers not to buy things they don't need, to keep the items they buy for as long as possible, to repair them when they are are broken, and to recycle items that are hopelessly worn out, rather than just throwing them out.
Why is Patagonia going through all this bother when a campaign like this probably won't increase their sales in the short-term significantly? I'm going to give the company the benefit of the doubt and assume that, unlike at most American companies, the people who run Patagonia actually give a damn about the future of the planet. Maybe they have children or grandchildren and don't like the idea of bequeathing them a planet that will be much less hospitable than the one we are already inhabiting.
I'd also like to think that maybe Patagonia is on to something that other American and multinational companies just don't get--namely, that the pursuit of short-term profits at all costs is not a sustainable business model. In a time when many people, including those who make a decent living, can no longer afford to squander their resources on crap they really don't need, it may be time for companies to start producing items that are so well-made that they can be used year-in and year-out without replacement, and to charge prices that reflect the high-quality of this craftsmanship.
Ultimately, this sort of business model would be good for the consumer (less money spent over the long-haul), good for businesses (they still would make a decent profit from selling fewer items at a higher cost), and good for the planet (less crap in our landfills).
Of course, a consumption tax would also have the same benefits, but without insuring that the items produced would ultimately be of a high quality. Besides, no one in government today has balls to propose anything even remotely like a consumption tax. So until we have a third party that actually is beholden to the interests of the American public, we need to speak as consumers with every purchase that we make, rewarding businesses like Patagonia that try to do the right thing for the planet and punishing those that don't.
I don't need to buy a winter coat any time soon: the two I have are about 10 years old and doing just fine, thank you. But when I finally break down and decide to buy a new coat, you can be well-assured that I will check out what Patagonia has to offer...specifically because of this campaign.
Perhaps you should consider doing the same.