Events & Media

Patagonia Makes Use of Group Project's Tool for Assessing Water "Footprint"

Bren Master's Group Projects have legs, as evidenced by an article at Ecouterre, a website devoted to the future of sustainable fashion design and committed "to follow the evolution of the apparel industry toward a more environmentally sound future, as well as facilitate a conversation about why sustainable fashion matters."

The article highlights Patagonia's ambitious new two-year initiative called "Our Common Waters," which is intended to shed light on the global water crisis while transparently assessing the amount of water the company itself uses or "that is used in our name," Vincent Stanley, co-editor of the label’s blog, The Footprint Chronicles.

The Ecouterre article mentions that, as part of the initiative, Patagonia will employ several tools, including "a protocol developed by the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, to measure its own water usage, especially from water-parched regions."

That tool was developed by a 2010 Group Project titled titled "Developing a Product Water Footprinting Methodology for Patagonia Outdoor Clothing." The group consisted of Lindsay Bass, Ameilia Nuding, Loretta Tam, and Daniel Young, and was advised by Bren professor Tom Dunne and adjunt instructor Robert Wilkinson.

For their project, the group conducted a water footprint analysis for six Patagonia garments by assessing the quantity of water used and the effect on water quality, while identifying the geographic source region impacted across the life cycles of the various products. The group then made recommendations for how Patagonia could reduce its environmental and social impact, as well as developing a quantitative methodolotgy — the "protocol" referred to in the Ecouterre article — for Patagonia, which can used to perform water footprint assessements into the future.