Patagonia’s Extreme Sustainability Efforts

Patagonia is a company that takes social responsibility to a whole new level, and you better believe it pays off. This outdoor sportswear company, has always made environmentally friendly best practices a priority, and goes far beyond the normal expectations of corporate social responsibility. The company not only adheres to fair, safe and legal working conditions for its employees and manufacturers, but also gives back to the environment and society in every way possible.

From Flicker Photos

From Flicker Photos

Patagonia is well known for its social responsibility efforts and its no wonder why. On the most basic level, the company is Fair Trade Certified; its products are made from recycled materials whenever possible; and its employees are treated amazingly well. However, this company really does go above and beyond especially from an environmental standpoint.

It all started in 1988 when Patagonia opened a store in Boston. Soon after the opening many of the employees became ill, mainly with bad headaches. The company had the problem investigated and found that its employees were most likely becoming ill due to a chemical found in the cotton the company was using at the time to produce its products. The chemical, known as Formaldehyde, was coming from pesticides used to produce the cotton in the fields. After finding this out the company knew it had to make some big changes, and that’s when Patagonia’s environmental efforts really took off. patagonia-works

Here are some of the changes that have led the company to its success. Today Patagonia only uses organically grown cotton; its down products are made from 100% traceable down; other products are made from recycled polyester; and the company even takes back old worn out products to recycle into new products. But that’s really just the beginning. Patagonia also reduces water use, energy and toxic materials in its manufacturing processes; donates one percent of its annual profits to grassroots environmental organizations (a total of $61 million since the program started); and partners with numerous nonprofits to increase efforts to better our world. It helped initiate the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and most recently launched the $20 million and Change fund to help like minded companies with their environmental efforts.  And that’s not even all; however, there isn’t enough space or time in this one post to cover everything this company does to give back. The company even has a separate site just for its corporate social responsibility efforts, known as Patagonia Works.

Image from wikimedia

Image from wikimedia

While Patagonia could use its insanely impactful environmental efforts for promotional purposes, it doesn’t really have to.  Due to the entire company being based around corporate social responsibility, Patagonia is well known throughout much of society as an ideal example of social responsibility. In fact influential people and the media acknowledge and promote the company’s efforts so much that the company doesn’t even have to promote its own efforts very often. If you don’t believe me, check out this article from Santa Clara University. The article discusses how Former President Clinton formally acknowledged Patagonia by saying that it is an “impressive example of corporate responsibility.” And who could be better to promote and support a company than the president of The United States?

As you can see Patagonia’s efforts almost speak for themselves, and in my opinion that’s the best marketing and public relations a company could ask for. Patagonia hasn’t stopped at anything in regards to bettering our planet and as a result it is not only one of the leading sportswear company’s in the world, but it is also a kind of poster company for businesses around the globe to learn from.


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