Patagonia: Enjoying & Preserving the Great Outdoors
“Build the best product, do no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
—Patagonia mission statement
Patagonia is an outdoor clothing company that grew out of a love for the natural world through adventure, from climbing to fly fishing and skiing. “Love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them,” writes Patagonia, “ and to help reverse the steep decline in the overall environmental health of our planet.” This ethic is not only woven into the fabric of Patagonia’s business, but also underlies how they support the communities where their customers live and their efforts to create change at a national level.
First and foremost, Patagonia begins environmental stewardship with how they design their products, noting that the most environmental thing they can do is make a product that works as it should and lasts a long time, without planned obsolescence. The company also acknowledges that everything they do, “from lighting their buildings to dying their shirts,” creates pollution, and they work hard to minimize these effects in different ways, from using 100% organic cotton and recycled fabric to making their clothes recyclable. Patagonia also directs philanthropic dollars towards environmental conservation, engaging its customers in the process. Since 1985, Patagonia, as one of the founders of the 1% for the Planet alliance, has donated 1% of its sales—totaling over $46 million in grants and in-kind donations—to support environmental conservation in the communities where their customers live, allowing their customers to vote for the causes they want supported in their communities.
But even with these efforts and growing support from companies signing on to the 1% for the Planet pledge, Patagonia knows that without government action, many environmental challenges cannot be adequately addressed. Which is why the company uses its strongest asset—its brand—to rally its customers to encourage lawmakers to work for environmental conservation. Through it’s “Our Common Waters” campaign, for example, Patagonia encourages its customers to take actions such as urging their representatives to fund river restoration. And through its “Vote the Environment” campaign, they inspire customers to learn about their representatives’ environmental records and get out to vote for pro-conservation candidates on Election Day. According to Elissa Loughman, Environmental Analyst, at Patagonia, “We always try to provide opportunities for people to engage. It’s about activism and getting people to become aware of their own impact.”