Patagonia & sustainability. ‘Are we there yet?’

ImagePatagonia gets a very good wrap on this website. Generally I think they are leaders when it comes to thoughtful attention to sustainability of product, making sure there are good working conditions in the production facilities that they buy from, and through their financial support for meaningful grassroots activism (as opposed to feel good projects).

They have a lot of information on their site, and are also open about the fact that they are not perfect and that the journey towards ‘sustainability’ is a long one. This recent update on their attempts to get good working conditions in facilities is worth a read if you’re interested in the practicalities of the issue.

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2 thoughts on “Patagonia & sustainability. ‘Are we there yet?’

  1. Really? If Patagonia is so concerned about working conditions and the plight of environment the last thing they would do is utilize the kind of unsustainable supply chain, desperate labor force and dealings with corrupt nation states they currently do. I am so sick of this greenwashing!

    When Patagonia first opened-up shop everything they sold was made in the USA out of what I would bet were largely-USA made materials. Eventually, in search of increased profits, they and most of the rest of the “environmentally conscious” outdoor gear industry shuttered their in-house production and contracted with factories in some of the most impoverished countries on earth who continue to produce goods under their label. Profits and not survival were the reason. The proof of this are rival domestic manufacturers that never “off-shored” their production and are still with us today.

    Perhaps more egregious, and right in step, their “environmentally conscious” customers – the expedition leaders, adventure travelers, endurance athletes, weekend warriors, etc. – kept right on buying, accepting sponsor-ships, and promoting Patagonia’s goods, apparently unaware of the hypocrisy of their actions. The fact that there were plenty of domestic and other western manufacturers producing goods of comparable or higher quality didn’t seem to factor into their consumer decisions. Too lazy to seek out local producers, and sucked into the marketing machine, misled consumers ended up facilitating the exodus of North American manufacturers.

    Patagonia’s paying lip service to the environment (1% For the Environment, etc.) and to the well being of people who labor in the factories producing their goods (third-part factory audits) is an embarrassment to thinking people who are able to connect the dots in their supply chain. I encourage everyone to spend a little time online searching for domestic alternatives to Patagonia’s tainted offerings. The good news is that there are many to choose from.

  2. Ah Jesus, how easy it is for a good story to get in the way of the truth.

    Patagonia was born of Chouinard Equipment, who commonly had stuff made offshore at various times, like their ice axes, crampons and carabiners (as the linked-to post rightly mentions). It was no different when they got into clothes, the early rugby shirts were imported from the UK and Australasia. Sure their fleece and underwear was at one time made Stateside, but their first rainwear line, Sealcoat, circa 1984, was made in Asia, as has their shellwear ever since. To suggest they once made everything in the USA is disingenuous. At best.

    Oh, and don’t get me started on “corrupt nation states.”

    And what does it benefit almost 50% of Patagonia’s customers, who are purchasing product outside the USA, to have adherence to a “Made In America” credo?

    Can Patagonia do better? No doubt. But let’s not have dishonest dialogue around the issue.

    Please share with us the names of these ‘rival domestic manufacturers that never “off-shored”.’

    In the US, Sequel clothing opted to close their doors when they could no longer compete with imported product. Osprey’s founder/designer took his family to Asia when he felt forced to move production offshore.

    I believe the remaining standouts in Australia are One Planet (their packs anyhow) and Wilderness Wear.

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