There's an art to writing long form copy concisely. It's about finding a balance between conveying essential information and taking the time (length) to make sure there is enough information to educate, inspire or influence.
Identifying a problem
Patagonia wanted to shed light on the state of global recycling shortcomings and their own efforts to address recycling challenges specific to the apparel industry. The first step was to identify and explain the problem to our audience.
Then finding solutions
I was managing editor for Patagonia for 11 years and focused on material, supply chain and environmental/social responsibility topics, but I had a lot to learn about global recycling issues for this article.
I did a deep dive into the state of recycling by researching challenges and opportunities, then interviewed several Patagonia employees to find out what the company was doing behind the scenes to address the problem in the apparel industry.
Is recycling still a problem? Yes. But there are solutions, including buying products that last, and taking care of them.
REI came out with Product Sustainability Standards, which outlined the company's expectations of all brands sold at REI, and how they collectively manage key environmental, social, and animal welfare issues.
Conversely, the standards weren't a one-size-fits-all solution because brands were at different stages of their journey to become more responsible and make supply chain improvements.
How could REI—who partnered with bluesign in this effort—be inclusive and welcoming while also let brands know about their new mandatory standards and expectations?
Using storytelling as inspiration
I interviewed several key employees at REI who were involved in the compilation and management of the standards, along with two leaders in the outdoor industry who were aiming to comply with REI's standards, but were at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of implementing improvements in their supply chain: • EDELRID, a 160-year-old climbing equipment company based in Germany that was an established leader in standards and certification compliance. • ENO, a 20-year-old hammocking company in North Carolina that was just starting out on their journey to understand their own supply chain.
The article paired REI voices with the ELDERID and ENO voices, highlighting shared values, along with honest insights into how REI partners are learning and improving along the way.
“It was a lot like open-heart surgery,” says Ryan Klinger, ENO’s product team director. “Product sustainability wasn’t a primary focus before the standards came out,” says Klinger. “But the way the standards are framed made it possible for us to take the first steps and to focus on milestones."