“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” If Patagonia’s mission statement isn’t the definition of a socially responsible company then I don’t know what is. I LOVE Patagonia. I’ve worn it my whole life, and have only owned a few other items ever. What’s interesting though is that I never would have thought to promote Patagonia over a competitor likeNorthface until somewhat recently.
It’s obvious that when you are making clothes, there will be a negative impact on the environment, but Patagonia is always aware of their impact on society and does whatever it can to minimize that impact. “The wild world we love is fast disappearing. At Patagonia, we think that business can inspire solutions to the environmental crisis. This means that what we make and how we make it must cause the least harm to the environment.” They are always aware of their footprint, and will not produce an item of clothing if the methods required will have a substantial effect on the environment. They will not compromise their morals or values just to turn a profit. If anyone is interested, I strongly encourage you to read a short book called Let My People Go Surfing. It is written by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, and not only do you learn about how the company was founded, but you learn about the company’s practices and principles and what the company does in order to minimize its environmental impact.
I always knew that Patagonia was an environmentally conscious company, but it wasn’t until after reading that book and then doing additional research that I realized just how much they are concerned about the environment. If they are a company that is so aware or their footprint and they still admit to creating pollution, I wonder how much is being generated by companies that aren’t aware and aren’t trying to minimize their waste. That is why now I promote Patagonia clothing above all other outdoor apparel. They closed the Patagonia store by my town a few years ago so now I have to drive over an hour to the nearest store, but I still do it because I would rather support Patagonia than any other store.
So here are the reasons for why Patagonia is as environmentally conscious as they are. They admit that their manufacturing process creates environmental waste, but they are involved in dozens of campaigns and initiatives to protect the environment. Here are just a few:
The Footprint Chronicles—On their 10th season, and each season this gives their practices some air and thought, and they use what they learn to change practices played out on an industrial scale. They try to take the lead on new initiatives because they know from past experiences that when they can reduce or eliminate harm, other businesses will be eager to follow. Their current season focuses on key social and environmental changes through the lens of the factories and mills that make Patagonia gear. (Could we relate this to the Nike case….? That Patagonia actually monitors their labor standards?)
Common Threads Initiative—“Together, we can reduce out environmental footprint.” Their motto is Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle and Reimagine.
Common Waters—Patagonia’s newest environmental campaign. Earth is currently facing a freshwater crisis. The more water we use and waste, the harder it is for freshwater animals and plants to survive. This is especially important for Yvon Chouinard because he is a lover of wild rivers. When asked the question “Why are you conservationists always against something,” his response was “If you are against something, you are always for something. If you are against a dam, you are for a river.” That is why Patagonia has been involved in trying to take out obsolete and damaging dams since 1993.
Additionally, Patagonia has a blog on their website, The Cleanest Line, and also are part of dozens of other environmental campaigns and initiatives. If Patagonia isn’t the definition of a company that lives their values, then I don’t know what is. They are constantly searching for new practices that will have a less damaging impact on their environment, and would never engage in practices thought to be immoral. Patagonia doesn’t use child labor, they absolutely try to affect laws or public policies through all of their campaigns, and they live and breathe their values. If you need a new high quality outdoor jacket, you are most likely going to buy one from either Patagonia, Northface, Columbia, etc. They way I see it, you should purchase one from a company that you know is conscious of their environmental impact. Wouldn’t you feel good about buying a jacket that came from recycled material, was made in fair and safe working conditions, and also that a portion of your purchase goes towards an environmental campaign? I used to wear Patagonia out of habit and convenience, but now I choose to wear it out of support for their practices.