Patagonia, the renowned outdoor apparel brand, has earned a reputation for its unwavering dedication to the environment. Their purpose: “to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Let’s delve into three powerful ways they’ve transformed this purpose into impactful action:
Black Friday for a Cause
Let’s begin with a groundbreaking initiative. Patagonia made global headlines by pledging to donate all Black Friday sales directly to environmental organizations around the world. This philanthropic endeavor was a massive success. CEO Rose Marcario reported record-breaking sales of $10 million, five times higher than expected.
Vote Our Planet Campaign
Patagonia understands that historical actions are significant, but they don’t rest on their laurels. In November 2016, they launched the “Vote Our Planet” campaign, which garnered worldwide attention. This initiative encouraged Americans to vote for candidates who champion clean air, clean water, and renewable energy in their efforts to safeguard the environment.
Ditching Profit for Principles
Now, let’s turn the clock back to the ’90s when Patagonia embarked on an ambitious mission to reduce the environmental impact of their supply chain. The journey began in 1994 when renowned organic agriculture activist Will Allen exposed Patagonia to the harsh realities of conventional cotton farming. These farms heavily relied on chemicals that polluted soil, air, and groundwater. Witnessing this firsthand, Patagonia decided to replace conventional cotton with 100% organic cotton.
This transition wasn’t without its challenges. At the time, clothing made from conventional cotton accounted for a significant 20% of Patagonia’s total business. Organic cotton was a mere fraction of the global cotton market, which meant Patagonia had to develop materials from the ground up. This bold move put about $20 million in sales at risk. Yet, their commitment remained unwavering.
To ensure their entire team shared this commitment, Patagonia organized tours of cotton fields, educating their staff about the harm of conventional cotton farming and the benefits of organic methods. One employee reflected, “The company arranged bus tours to cotton fields so we saw for ourselves the harm conventional cotton and its pesticides were causing to the environment. This was part of our organic cotton program where we also saw the benefits of organic farming. Hundreds of us went on the tour and many of us have since shifted to buying organic food and clothing.”
Actions speak louder than words, and that’s why I choose to shop at Patagonia!