Patagonia


After hearing about so many unethical companies in class, I decided that for Paper 2 I wanted to focus on a company that prides itself on their ethical behavior! Patagonia is a clothing company that does exactly that. I knew about Patagonia from its popularity all over the Bucknell campus. I have seen men, woman, and children of all ages wearing Patagonia clothing, and I believe that some don’t even know what a sustainable company Patagonia is.

In 1973, Yvon Chouinard created the company Patagonia because he had a need. He was a passionate rock climber and began to realize that he needed more functional climbing clothing. This is what motivated him to start Patagonia. From the beginning his vision for the company always focused on selling products that had minimal impact on the environment. Due to dire financial issues in 1996, Chouinard considered selling the company, but instead, he chose to go in an even more sustainable direction. Patagonia began using organic cotton, a risky decision because of its high cost, and decided to use more sustainable materials to make more durable products. (Patagonia)

These two choices are part of the reason Patagonia is such a successful company today and this was only the beginning of Patagonia’s road towards sustainability. Today Patagonia has numerous environmental initiatives that contribute to their success. The Common Threads initiative is in partner with Patagonia and urges consumers to “Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle, Reimagine.” Patagonia’s ultimate aim is to close the loop on the lifecycle of their products with their “Buy Less” campaign (Shown in a photo below). Patagonia encourages customers to buy less and to not buy Patagonia products that they do not need. Patagonia also offers to repair products for free if it appears that Patagonia is responsible for the need. If repairing the product is not possible Patagonia will buy the product and make it into something new. (Patagonia) Not many other clothing companies encourage customers to NOT buy their products. But somehow the customers keep coming back.

Patagonia_DONTBUYTHISJACKET1

“According to Patagonia’s own market research, about 20 percent of its customers say they choose Patagonia equipment because of its reputation and commitment to social and environmental responsibility.” (Lazlo, 58) The Common Threads initiative is only one of Patagonia’s many initiatives. The Footprint Chronicles was created by Patagonia to redefine corporate transparency. The firms website enables users to track the environmental impact of certain Patagonia products throughout the supply chain from design through delivery. There is an interactive map on their website that allows customers to see where their mills, factories, and farms are and gives information about each individual one. Patagonia prides itself on monitoring their suppliers and knowing what is going on in their factories. “In 2007, Patagonia was supported by only 90 suppliers compared to Gap’s 2,000.” (Pongtratic,pg 12) Patagonia is not focused on being the largest company, they want to grow, but never loose sight of what their true goal is to: “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” (Patagonia.com) The Common Thread and Footprint Chronicles are only two of Patagonia’s many ways they support the environment, stay tuned for more about Patagonia and their noteworthy ethical ways in my second paper!

Work Cited

1. Featured Image

2. Photo From

3. Laszlo, Christopher. The Sustainable Company How to Create Lasting Value through Social and Environmental Performance. Washington, DC: Island, 2003. Print.

4. “Our Reason for Being.” Patagonia Company. Web. 04 Nov. 2014. <http://www.patagonia.com/us/patagonia.go?assetid=2047&gt;

5. Pongtratic, Melissa. “Greening the Supply Chain: A Case Analysis of Patagonia.” University of California, San Diego Case (2007): Web. 5 Nov. 2014. <http://www-irps.ucsd.edu/assets/021/8430.pdf&gt;

6. “Patagonia: A Sustainable Outlook on Business.” Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative, University of New Mexico (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 5 Nov. 2014. <http://danielsethics.mgt.unm.edu/pdf/patagonia.pdf&gt;.

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7 responses to “Patagonia

  1. The “Buy Less” campaign sounds like a really cool idea to explore! How can a company do so well by encouraging their consumers to not buy their products? They clearly seem to be doing extremely well for a company that values ethics and holds themselves to such high standards in many aspects of their business.

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    • I think that there “buy less” campaign has a lot to do with their success! I respect Patagonia for encouraging their customers to reuse rather than just buy new products and that is why I am motivated to choose their products over other companies such as the North Face.

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  2. Patagonia is a leader in the apparel industry for integrating an eco-friendly image and true sustainability. How have they updated or redesigned their socially responsible efforts over time? What are their plans for the future?

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    • Patagonia has had sustainable practices since it began in 1972. Patagonia’s biggest change over the years that has had the biggest impact, is their use of organic cotton. This change in their product was costly but many companies today are starting to make the shift towards organic cotton as well. Patagonia made this change early on and now they are ahead of their competitors. I think in the future Patagonia will continue to operate in a fairly similar way. I cant think of much else they can do to be a more sustainable company!

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