When it comes to being a responsible company, Patagonia has it on lock. The 2013 Sustainability Leaders report ranks Patagonia number 2 as a leader in integrating sustainability into their business strategy.
Patagonia, a leader in outdoor apparel and accessories, started focusing on sustainable products and corporate responsibility back in 1988. Having a problem with no solution simply would not do. Patagonia discovered their employees experienced headaches, due to their exposure to formaldehyde. So, they found a healthy and eco-friendly way around it. They became an organic company in 1996. This was their start of making a change for the better of their environment and employees.
Their “Buy Less” Campaign
In 2011, they started an initiative with a newspaper ad titled, “Don’t Buy This Jacket” in hopes of grabbing attention. This helped spark conversation, interest, and support of their customers. The focus: reduce, repair, reuse, recycle, and reimagined their clothing line. As, of course, they do want to make a profit, they are confident in their product line. They want their customers to buy new items when they need them, not want them or think they need them.
Their Current Campaign: The Responsible Economy
The focus of Patagonia’s new campaign, The Responsible Economy, is on all businesses and customers to think and act responsibly for our planet. It is to reverse the deterioration of our air, freshwater, and land. They are looking to promote healthy communities and replenish what’s taken from the earth.
Being Environmentally Aware Making Clothing
Since 1996, they have found it’s best to use organic cotton. Patagonia makes their fleece jackets from recycled bottles. Solar panels power most of their headquarters. The Common Threads Partnership encourages Patagonia’s customers to act eco-friendly with their clothing line. Patagonia is a proud member of the bluesign® system and has Fair Trade Certified™ garments starting this fall 2014.
A Socially Responsible Company
Patagonia wants to prove they are more than just talk. They find key problems and start to address the situation right away. A key way for consumers and society to vision what they are doing to make changes towards the better, is by giving total corporate transparency. Their Footprint Chronicles website has established just that. They document what works and does not work. Each step taken is also documented each step to make these changes.
In an effort to show they are a leader in corporate sustainability efforts, Patagonia donates 1% of their sales to environmental causes and is co-founder of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. They have donated over $55 million in grants and in-kind donations to over 1,000 organizations.
As presented in this Sustainable Life Media article, Patagonia was one of the first companies in California to become a benefit corporation. A benefit corporation states they must have a positive impact on environmental and social goods and this is a part of their corporate purpose.
The key reasons Patagonia is considered a sustainability leader is due to their willingness to discuss successes and challenges, their transparency on initiatives and challenges, and that they have been doing it since before sustainability became a trend. Patagonia has not stopped their search of environmentally conscious fabrics to use in their products, nor have they ceased to increase their environmental campaigns, growing the awareness of our endangered planet. And as founder and owner, Yvon Chouinard, responds that their environmental campaigns are addressing the symptoms of our natural resources depleting; “Now we are addressing the core”.