For many people Patagonia embodies the very meaning of sustainability. It’s an organization that was founded on a set of principles as much as it was fulfilling the need for a product, climbing gear. Named for the iconic mountainous region in South America, Patagonia doesn’t just aim to make good clothing and outdoor gearing while “doing no harm,” but to actively involve themselves in issues and educate the public on how to make sure their actions can have a positive impact. These are just the tip of the iceberg...
- MAKE IT LAST: The most sustainable piece of clothing is one that doesn’t need to be purchased because you continue to use your current one. A quality-constructed garment that is repaired uses less resources than one that is made from 100% recycled materials. They have embraced a program they call Worn Wear, employing 45 people that perform an average of 40,000 repairs per year on their clothing. They even have a video series and a tour vehicle that travels the country doing on-site repairs. Check out a short video here.
- MAKE IT WELL: The fabrics that go into a Patagonia product are some of the most innovative pieces of materials technology in the apparel industry. Hemp is a durable fiber with a low environmental impact. Their organic cotton comes from fields not sprayed with harsh chemicals. Their recycled nylon, down, wool and polyester mean new materials don’t need to be sourced. A solid example of demonstrating the true ethos of sustainability is their use of Yulex®, a natural rubber substitute for petroleum-based neoprene in their surfing wetsuits. It doesn’t contain harmful chemicals, it’s produced in Forest Stewardship Council-certified forests, and just as important, performs better than the traditional material.
- MAKE IT KNOWN: It’s one thing to say you’re a protector of the environment, but it’s quite another to actually do it. Patagonia realized that their employees have a passion for protecting nature, so they created the Patagonia Employee Internship Program where they give any employee up to 2 months PAID leave to go work for the environmental nonprofit of their choice. In 2015 there were 34 individuals who took advantage of this opportunity, donating over 10,000 hours for 43 organizations.