OK, I must confess to being a complete fan of Patagonia. Not only the climbing god status of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, and their early attempts to introduce more sustainable elements into their products (for instance, organic cotton), but also because of their serious attempt to quantify their ecological impact. I love their honesty: “there is still no such thing as sustainable business”.

I also love the fact they support grassroots and activist work rather than just more timid conservation activity.

CATEGORY: activist leader (****)

About the company

Patagonia’s Mission Statement: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis”.

Sustainability criteria:
Rather than go point by point of the criteria, I would suggest you go to the Patagonia website and investigate any products you are interested in.

  • working conditions

If you have a spare 15 minutes, there is a very interesting doco on the website about their attempts to create fair working conditions across all parts of their supply chain and also the complexities of actually doing this (go to ‘what’s done in our name’). For instance, as with most big gear producers, Patagonia deals with factories in a range of countries (currently  China, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Turkey, Portugal, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, El Salvador, Israel, the Philippines and the U.S.) and also work with individual factories where they are not the major client and hence have difficulty in being able to set the working conditions. But it does have a code of conduct – available here.

You can find the video here.  Go to the section ‘digging deeper’.

Details on their approach to working conditions can be found here.

They are a member of the Fair Labour Association, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to ending sweatshop conditions in factories worldwide.

  • other environmental claims or benefits

Patagonia has an ambitious program called the Footprint Chronicles, which shows the ecological and human ‘footprint’ of their operations. I am not aware of any other outdoor manufacturers who come anywhere close to the vision of the Chronicles project.

Patagonia is a member of One Percent for the Planet, and provides a lot of funding for a great range of activist causes, via their environmental grants program.

  • details on who stocks the item/ where to find it/ where to get further information

There are a growing number of stores in Australia. Currently they are: Torquay and South Yarra (VIC), Manly and Sydney (NSW), and Burleigh Heads (QLD).
Check here for details on finding stores.

near Mount Massif, TAS

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