Patagonia are definitely a pioneer of sustainable fashion with a strong commitment to the environment through campaigning and awareness raising as well as minimising the impact of the clothing that they make.
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Patagonia promotes sustainability with a mantra of ‘Reduce, Repair, Reduce, Recycle’. In contrast to so many other clothing companies, they encourage customers to only buy what they need and they facilitate this in practice by making useful sustainable clothing that lasts a long time. They also help customers to repair their Patagonia clothing and between January and September 2012, 13, 649 items were repaired.
Patagonia donate unsold products to charities and encourage their customers to do so too. As a last resort Patagonia are committed to recycling products that have no further use. They ask customers to send back their old clothes and recycle them into new fibres or fabrics where possible. Since 2005, they have taken back 45 tonnes of clothes and recycled 34 tonnes into new clothing.
Interestingly Patagonia have pledged
Patagonia agrees to build useful things that last, to repair what breaks and recycle (or repurpose) what comes to the end of its useful life.
and they ask their customers to make a pledge too
I agree to buy only what I need (and will last), repair what breaks, reuse (share) what I have and recycle everything else.
You can find out more on their website Patagonia.com.
As a pioneering company Patagonia using a number of different sustainble materials in their products including organic cotton, recycled polyester, hemp and chlorine free wool.
Transparency is also hugely important to Patagonia as a way of reducing any adverse social and environmental impacts of their industrial processes. The Footprint Chronicles® is their way of sharing everything about the sustainability and ethics of their products and giving complete supply chain transparency.
In addition Patagonia have many more initiatives which ensure that as a business they can inspire solutions to the environmental crisis. Since 1985, they have been contributing to ’1% for the planet’ preservation and restoration of the natural environment. They hae also awarded over $46 million in cash and in-kind donations to domestic and international grassroots environmental groups. They have also founded the Conservation Alliance and European Outdoor Conservation Association. These organisations encourage companies in the outdoor industry to give money to environmental organizations and to become more involved in environmental work. The US based organisation now has 170 member companies. They also have their own employee internment program, where employees can leave their jobs for up to one month (whilst retaining their usual pay and benefits) to work for the environmental group of their choice. They are even setting up their own ‘Patagonia National Park’ in Chile.
Recently the brand have taken things even further with their campaign for responsible capitalism with a hope of finding new measures of success that do not depend on selling an ever increasing number of goods and services.