Leaders from outdoor apparel company Patagonia announced its new campaign, The Responsible Economy, and outlined its numerous environmental and social “firsts” since being founded 40 years ago.
“Patagonia’s mission is to ‘inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis,’” said Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia Vice President of Environmental Affairs. “There are two vital concepts in that statement: we implement our own solutions and we inspire others to follow our lead.”
Based in Ventura, Calif., Patagonia has become a leader by implementing many environmental and social firsts that include:
- using only organic cotton for all its cotton products since 1996;
-redefining corporate transparency through its Footprint Chronicles website documenting what is working in the supply chain, what’s not, and steps the company is doing to address its challenges;
- launching its Common Threads Partnership, which invites customers to take mutual responsibility for the entire life cycle of the company’s products through the 5 R’s: reduce, repair, reuse, recycle, and reimagine;
-becoming the first brand member of the bluesign system;
-being one of the first companies in California to switch to wind energy upon deregulation and adding on-site solar energy systems;
-being the first company in California to incorporate as a Benefit Corporation, institutionalizing its core values in its Charter and Articles of Incorporation;
-launching $20 Million & Change, a fund to help like-minded responsible start-up companies; and
-becoming one of the first U.S. outdoor apparel companies to introduce Fair Trade Certified™ garments (for fall 2014).
In addition, over the years Patagonia has co-founded 1% for the Planet, Freedom to Roam, The Conservation Alliance, and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and is a founding member of the Fair Labor Association. It has given more than $55 million in grants and in-kind donations to date to more than 1000 environmental organizations through its grants program.
Patagonia was one of the first to use hemp, recycled nylon, recycled polyester, and Tencel (lyocell). Its most recent initiative is working with The Nature Conservancy and Ovis XXI, representing fifth-generation ranchers, to regenerate overgrazed grasslands in Patagonia, Argentina, where it sources its merino wool. The company takes responsibility for every garment at the end of its life by taking it back for recycling or repurposing.
“On a daily basis, we actively pursue our mission statement’s provision to ‘cause no unnecessary harm,’” stated Jill Dumain, Patagonia’s Director of Environmental Strategy. “At every step we ask ourselves, ‘How does this fiber or input affect the environment we live in and the people making the products and how can we reduce that impact?’”