I love the outdoors! I especially love to hike and camp. For comfortable hiking and camping, it is important to have good gear. A lot of my hiking clothes and even one pair of shoes, are from Patagonia – a company who states “The protection and preservation of the environment isn’t what we do after hours. It’s the reason we’re in business and every day’s work.” Because this company has made unusual environmental marketing choices concerning their clothing and gear, I have chosen Patagonia1 as a green company to discuss.
Patagonia works with Toray, a company in Japan that has developed a way to recycle garments. Over the past 22 years, Toray and Patagonia have built an important partnership based on the development of Toray’s advanced materials. Under a basic policy of “less energy” and “total recycle,” Toray has been actively expanding its fabric recycling activities targeting nylon, polyester and acrylic products, from various angles such as chemical, material and thermal recycling.1
Patagonia’s environmental cooperation goes further by creating a reusing and repairing partnership with its consumers by their “Common Threads Partnership,” This is similar to the idea we read about with the carpets, where purchasing a product is not only paying for an item but also includes service. The product may be costly up front, but the company will repair or replace it when it is worn and recycle the material to make future products. Patagonia is costly, but to me it is worth it. I have a few items that I have had for quite some time and I use often.
Patagonia recently came to our campus on their “Worn Wear Tour,” which is part of their “Common Threads Partnership.” This involves giving customers the opportunity to buy worn and slightly damaged articles that had been repaired. In addition, as part of the tour, Patagonia will repair anything you bring to them free of charge. While they were visiting, I bought a warm jacket for $5 that has just a few little patches, but still keeps me warm! Patagonia’s tour mission statement is to “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
In 2012, they posted a short article about their alternative to Rayon. They use Tencel®, which is a regenerated cellulose fiber, that is processed with a non-toxic spinning solvent in a closed-loop system. The raw material harvested from eucalyptus tree farms is wood pulp. The material is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC). Patagonia claims this material is the best option for them, for it has less waste than other fibers and still maintains quality for long-lasting product.
As a triple bottom line effort, Patagonia is a member of the Fair Labor Association. This is a vital association who sets standards for the workplace, provides responsibility and Head Office/Regional and Supplier Training. It offers functioning grievance mechanisms, monitoring, collection and management of compliance information and much more to assure employees are being treated fairly.
Patagonia also gives 1% of their sales to support environmental organizations around the world to “fund at the grassroots level in countries and communities where we have people on the ground.” They offer grants for environmental groups and organizations and offer training to help grassroots activists be more effective in their fight.
For a large consumer product company, Patagonia is headed in the right direction, but they do have room for improvement. Right now, they have a limited clientele because of the high cost of the products. “The Worn Wear” online, I believe is still more expensive than it should be, even though the idea is appealing. I believe Patagonia is an encouraging example that shows that there are companies making significant, positive sustainability changes.
1 See https://www.patagonia.com/the-activist-company.html2 See https://outdoorindustry.org/press-release/toray-patagonia-to-jointly-work-on-chemical-recycle-of-nylon-6/
2 See https://outdoorindustry.org/press-release/toray-patagonia-to-jointly-work-on-chemical-recycle-of-nylon-6/