Once you start, you can’t stop. “Living the examined life,” said our founder, Yvon Chouinard, “is a pain in the ass.” From cotton, we moved to what happens in Patagonia’s name in every step of the supply chain, from crop to fabric to finished garment.
We measured the environmental impacts of selected articles of clothing and published them on The Footprint Chronicles®. We worked with an outside auditor and an in-house corporate responsibility specialist to establish the working conditions and pay for every person who sews a Patagonia garment. We learned how to make fleece jackets from recycled plastic bottles and then how to make fleece jackets from fleecejackets.
We examined our use of paper in catalogs, the sources of our electricity, the amount of oil we consumed driving to work. We continued to support employees with medical insurance, maternity and paternity leave, subsidized child-care and paid internships with non profit environmental groups.
As we have for many years, we gave one percent of sales to grassroots activists. This one percent commitment isn’t typical philanthropy. Rather, it’s part of the cost of doing business, part of our effort to balance (however imperfectly) the impact we have on natural systems – and to protect the world on which our business, employees, and customers rely. After many years of giving money to activists, we realized that if we could share profits, we could also supply time and muscle.