How Ethical is Patagonia?

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Patagonia are widely known as an outdoor and adventure-wear brand that leads the way on taking care of our earth. With a mission statement to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” – Patagonia has set a high bar. Let’s take a look at how well they meet it!

Environmental Impact: Good

Patagonia are taking impressive action to reduce their environmental impact. All of their cotton is certified organic by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and they’re bluesign® certified for 56% of their fabrics. A high proportion of their materials are made from recycled fabrics, including their polyester, nylon, and wool. Patagonia belongs to both the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and 1% For The Planet. They reject fast fashion by creating high-quality, long-lasting products and offer a repair and reuse program. They even go so far as to discourage customers from purchasing too many of their products.Patagonia's repair and reuse program

These are fantastic initiatives that Patagonia should be praised for, but there is more they can do to achieve the top environment rating. While they have taken meaningful action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in their direct operations, Patagonia has not yet set a clear time-bound greenhouse gas reduction target. They comply with a Restricted Substances List and state they are committed to eliminating hazardous chemicals but have set no deadlines. They also have not made public any water targets – we don’t know whether Patagonia are addressing this issue, but strongly recommend that they put their commitments and actions on the public record for that final push in this category.

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Labour Conditions: Great

Patagonia are leading the way when it comes to good labour policies. They received the second highest rating in the 2017 Ethical Fashion Report, which looks at the payment of a living wage, transparency, and worker empowerment. Patagonia’s Supplier Code of Conduct was recognised as groundbreaking – they trace and audit almost all of their facilities, publicly list their suppliers and ensure that any subcontracting adheres to code standards.

Man with mountain climbing gear wearing Patagonia jacket and sleeping bag

They’re also a member of the Fair Labor Association Workplace Code of Conduct. Alongside all this, Patagonia has good worker empowerment initiatives in place and are progressing towards ensuring a living wage for workers across their supply chain. Patagonia outshine most of their peers in this category!

Animal Welfare: Great

Patagonia has strong animal welfare policies. They do not use angora, leather or fur in their products and they publicly advocate for animal welfare. They use recycled wool and down feather that has been accredited by the Global Traceable Down Standard. This standard, which Patagonia helped to develop, guarantees that the birds are not force-fed or live-plucked. Whit Hassett

Global animal welfare organisation Four Paws called out Patagonia for their inhumane treatment of birds in the past, but the label was quick to respond. They now work side by side with the organisation to encourage humane practices industry-wide.

Overall Rating: ‘Good’ GoY-Ratings_4

We’ve given Patagonia an overall rating of ‘Good’, based on the 2017 Ethical Fashion Report and our own research. This brand lives up to the standards it set itself by pushing for sustainability across the board. To build on that great work we recommend that Patagonia look at setting and publishing more concrete water and carbon targets and keep pushing to implement their plans to pay all workers in the supply chain a living wage. Patagonia is certainly a brand worth giving your support to.


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Feature image: Patagonia Australia. Additional images from the Patagonia Instagram.

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