Patagonia is one of the world’s largest and most recognizable ‘sustainable brands,’ but we’re asking the question: Is Patagonia ethical?
Patagonia’s mission statement sums it up: “We’re in business to save our home planet”.
The brand is also outspoken about supporting environmental action and using the power of their business to drive positive change.
In this article, we’ll look at the ways in which Patagonia is pushing their sustainability agenda forwards, the materials the brand uses, worker treatment, and ask the ultimate question, is Patagonia ethical?
If you want to learn more on Patagonia’s website, visit it here.
Let’s dive in.
Ecothes Opinion: Patagonia Sustainability Rating
Is Patagonia Ethical?
Yes, we consider Patagonia to be an ethical brand. In summary, Patagonia is a great brand if you’re looking to support a sustainable brand.
Let’s take a look at the facts:
- Patagonia is a Certified B Corp – this means Patagonia must meet strict standards of social and environmental production practices.
- Patagonia donates 1% of sales revenue to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment and has done so since 1985.
- Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, founded the nonprofit, 1% For The Planet
- The brand offers lifelong guarantees and will repair and recycle all old Patagonia clothes to reduce waste
- The brand is transparent about their environmental impact and progress
- The Patagonia Action Works program helps connect environmental groups with supporters
- Patagonia partners with Fair Trade factories to create its products.
As a B Corp, Patagonia received a B Impact Score of 151.4. The score takes into account factors such as:
- Labor practices
- Community initiatives
- Overall environmental impact.
The requirement to be labelled a B Corp is 80, so clearly Patagonia are doing well to receive a score of 151.4.
While the B Impact Report isn’t always perfect, it does act as a good barometer for sustainability so it’s good to see Patagonia performing so well.
Naturally, no apparel company will ever be truly sustainable, as the act of manufacturing is not completely sustainable, even if there are initiatives to offset the emissions and harm done.
How Does Patagonia Treat Staff and Workers?
Patagonia is transparent about their history, and you can view a detailed timeline of how the brand has continuously improved on their labor practices and ensured every worker is treated as fairly as possible.
The company is also a founding member of the Fair Labor Association® which acts as a third-party body that regularly audits the labor practices in Patagonia’s supply chain.
The company is also well-known for being one of the first companies in the US to launch an on-site childcare program to help families avoid having to face financial struggles due to childcare costs.
Is Patagonia Fast Fashion?
No, Patagonia is not a fast fashion brand. While the brand is a global brand, creating large amounts of products and stock, the business does not operate on a fast fashion business model.
Instead, Patagonia creates its products ethically from more sustainable materials and retails them at a higher price point, reflecting the products’ quality and supply chain practices.
Patagonia’s Materials and Production Processes
Patagonia use a variety of sustainable and eco-friendly materials, including:
- Regenerative Organic Certified Pilot Cotton
- Recycled fishing nets
- Recycled polyester (and other recycled materials)
Every item of clothing or equipment is clearly labelled so you know exactly what goes into each garment.
Patagonia is also aiming to be a completely carbon neutral company by 2025, offsetting all of the emissions created in their production process.
What is Patagonia’s Carbon Footprint?
Recent data shows that Patagonia’s emissions per year amount to approximately 230,000 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions.
95% of those carbon emissions are generated during the supply chain process — from growing crops to create the materials, to shipping, to warehouse operations.
They offset this using renewable energy, switching to low-emission materials and dyes, as well as using their shipping data to improve the efficiency of product shipments to customers.
Patagonia Gives Company To Planet Earth
Almost 50 years after Yvon Chouinard founded a small rock climbing company, which became one of the world’s biggest outdoor brands, the Patagonia founder has furthered the company’s responsibility and commitment to protecting the environment by giving his company to planet earth.
How does this work, you may ask?
Well, in a statement on their website, the Patagonia founder stated they were ‘going purpose’ rather than going public.’
The landmark move, which now means the Chouinards no longer own the company, transfers 100% of the company’s voting stock transfers to the Patagonia Purpose Trust and 100% of the nonvoting stock transfers to the Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature.
Rather than shareholders receiving money from shares, the funds will be sent to these two trusts and distributed as dividends to help fight the climate crisis.
The transfer of ownership of the company doesn’t mean that Patagonia has become a nonprofit organization, though. The brand remains a for-profit business and a certified B Corp. However, Patagonia will use the profit left over after reinvesting directly to help fight the environmental crisis, protect nature and biodiversity, and support thriving communities.
Wrapping Up – Is Patagonia Ethical?
If you’re interested in shopping more sustainably, Patagonia is, in our opinion, one of the best options out there.
The company has roots in the outdoors and sustainability, and the founder and team have always been vocal and passionate about supporting environmental causes.