Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Patagonia has been using organic cotton since 1996.
Since 1985, Patagonia has pledged 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural eco-system. They have awarded over 31 million dollars in cash and in-kind donations to domestic and international grassroots enviro groups dedicated to making a difference in their local communities.
In 2005 Patagonia launched their Common Threads Garment Recycling Program, through which customers could return their worn out Capilene® , Performance Baselayers, worn out Patagonia® fleece, Polartec® fleece clothing (from any maker), Patagonia cotton T-shirts, and additional polyester and nylon 6 products labeled with the Common Threads tag.
From June 10 to July 19, 2008, Patagonia Retail Stores presented Voice Your Choice (VYC), a campaign created to help customers get involved in local environmental issues, show their support for local environmental groups and get warmed up for the November ’08 elections. Each store profiled five area groups that were doing something extraordinary to help restore and protect the local environment. Customers were then invited to make their voices part of the solution by voting for the group they felt deserved a $4,000 grant. VYC invited direct involvement in the allocation of a portion of each Patagonia Retail Store’s marketing and environmental grants budget.
I think that Patagonia does a great job with realizing that there surroundings and the people around them are the importance in their company. I think this is what stands out to me the most about this company is that they invest on making the world a better place and then hope that they will gain their money back in the future, but that is not what they focus on.
Slight problems with the fiber:We also found that the cancer rate among the working population in that area was disturbingly high.
At this point almost 60% of our net sales were in cotton. We had to go to our farmers and convince them to go organic, and subsidise them to do so. Then we had to go to the spinners to ask them to clean their machines between doing conventional lines and ours, and subsidise them, too. Finally, we had to ask our customers to pay a premium so we could afford to do this. But we made the decision we'd rather go out of business than continue to use conventional cotton.
We were lucky: our customers embraced the concept. And today we make tens of millions of dollars from organic cotton and haven't produced a stitch of non-organic since.
It's thanks to our policy on work/life balance. Patagonia is a familial environment: we provide childcare on site, have an organic cafe, and run yoga, aerobics and pilates classes at lunchtime. We have a very holistic approach to our business. When you work for us, you're working with friends and like-minded individuals.
No one has an office – it's a horizontal management policy where everyone's voice matters. We get around 500 to 1000 applications for every position advertised at Patagonia, but it's rare that a job comes up because people don't leave.
What is Patagonia's most important innovation?
In 1995 we initiated a programme called 1% for the Planet. Initially, this was just grassroots giving but we got sick of waiting for the government to fix the problems we saw around us. Consequently, over time we've donated more than $33m financially and in kind. We also do a lot of pro bono work through our own internal agencies.
As the company developed we realised we couldn't manage on our own so we split 1% from Patagonia, making it into a non-profit agency and inviting other companies to join us. As of last December we had 1,000 members worldwide. It's a huge part of why we're in business. We make profits so that we can give money to people who are fighting the good fight.
What can others learn from you?
We hope that we can inspire people that doing right on behalf of the environment can be profitable.
We try to look at a long-term picture. If you think about what you want your company to be 100 years from now rather than one year from now, it changes the way you make decisions. This outlook also affects the way we design – we don't necessarily consider transitory fashion trends, and have more of an industrial perspective.
Wal-Mart have recently approached us and asked how they can be more like us. As a small company, the effect we have on improving the environment is minimal, but think about what a giant company like Wal-Mart can do. If Wal-Mart makes even the smallest change, it has a big impact.
Way too much of what is made these days ends up in the trash at the end of its useful life. At Patagonia, we're working to change that.
In 2005 we launched our Common Threads Garment Recycling Program, through which customers could return their worn out Capilene® Performance Baselayers to us for recycling. We've since been able to expand the list of recyclable garments to include worn out Patagonia® fleece, Polartec® fleece clothing (from any maker), Patagonia cotton T-shirts, and now some additional polyester and nylon 6 products that come with a Common Threads tag.
Through Common Threads we can transform your unusable garments into new clothing, which gets us closer to a long-standing company goal of taking full responsibility for every product we make.
How to Recycle
Recycling old Patagonia garments is easy. Simply wash them first and use one of the following collection methods:
1. Mail them to the Patagonia Service Center at
Patagonia Service Center
ATTN: Common Threads Recycling Program
8550 White Fir Street
Reno, NV 89523-8939
2. Drop them off at the Patagonia Retail Store nearest you or at one of our Performance Baselayer Dealers – ideally, while you're running other errands, to reduce environmental impact.
Please note: Recycling your old clothes is voluntary. If you choose to recycle, you'll gain the satisfaction of knowing that your old polyester garments will not end up in a landfill or an incinerator, and that future Patagonia products will require significantly less virgin polyester (less oil) than products from seasons past.
Making new clothes from old clothes may be the right thing to do; it's also the thing that must be done. To learn more about cradle-to-cradle product development and other innovative strategies for making lives better and giving the planet a rest, we highly recommend the new, expanded edition of Lester Brown's Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble.
These are the plans for the future is to keep recycling and finding out what is going to help our environment out. Patagonia is 100% about the care of their customers and the use of how things are made is all by being fiber friendly. Patagonia is looking for more ways to find better use in the materials around us and experimenting on the harm that some fibers have for us.
Main Company Address
259 West Santa Clara Street
Ventura, CA 93001
Founded in 1973
800-543-5522Mr. Chouinard, an outdoors enthusiast who has developed a deep interest in environmental causes. Mr. Chouinard started in retailing nearly 40 years ago, when he began selling the climbing pitons that he first fashioned for his own use. These days, he spends half the year away from the office, surfing and fly fishing, often using these activities to field-test new clothing.
Patagonia, a designer and distributor of technical outdoor clothing based in Ventura, Calif., has a strong commitment to environmental responsibility.
The company has been donating 10 percent of its annual profits (or 1 percent of sales, whichever is greater) since 1985 to hundreds of grassroots environmental groups, totaling $15 million in cash, plus gear worth several million dollars. Patagonia's products, company officials say, are made from recycled polyester and organic instead of pesticide-intensive conventional cotton, where possible.
In 1998 Patagonia became the first California company to buy all its electricity from newly constructed renewable energy plants. Among its many environmental actions, Patagonia's Denver store is wind powered and the company uses photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight directly into electricity at its Reno store. In addition, the Reno store uses recycled materials, solar-tracking mirrors, energy-efficient lighting systems and carpet made from 100 percent recycled polyester.
Prior to taking his position at Patagonia in 1999, Crooke served as chief executive and chairman of Pearl Izumi, a cycling and performance apparel company based in Colorado. He also was general manager of Kelty Packs for several years and has worked with other outdoor companies, including Yakima and Moonstone Mountaineering. He has served for five years on the board of directors of the Conservation Alliance, the outdoor industry's environmental grant-giving organization, including one year as board president.