Could a sports clothing brand be able to make environmental sustainability its own primary mission? For Patagonia, a brand born out of Yvon Chouinard’s sustainable philosophy, the answer is pretty obvious. During one of our CARE’s Talk from this year’s edition of CARE’s EXPLORE, we had the pleasure of talking to the visionary and nonconformist owner of the brand himself. Honoured to have him among us, even if just online – he rarely talks in public – Chouinard explained to us how he decided to transform his own lifestyle into the trademark of the brand.
The effort of the brand to reduce environmental impact
Founded in 1970 in Ventura, California, Patagonia combines a spirit of adventure and passion for nature with the green soul of the American entrepreneur, who likes to be called an innovator rather than an inventor: “I start from products that already exist on the market and try to understand how I could improve them.”
Therefore, quality goes hand in hand with sustainability: “If we consider the amount of resources we need to produce new clothing and its environmental impact (carbon emissions, water and energy resources used, extraction of raw materials), creating resistant and long-lasting products makes a huge difference. That’s not a new idea, it’s just a principle that has been largely forgotten.” Thus, make way for resistant materials that do not harm the environment, such as recycled plastic.
Furthermore, the brand is always committed to campaigns for the health of the planet aimed at reducing water waste and textile pollution and promoting the use of renewable energies. Since 2002, the brand has endorsed the 1% for the Planet initiative, conceived by Chouinard and Craig Mathews, which involves an international network of companies who decided to donate 1% of their annual sales income to environmental causes. This effort is also promoted through their employees, who can decide to work for a non-profit organisation for up to two months while they are still paid their full salary.
That is not all. With the goal to achieve even more concrete results, the brand changed its mission statement a few years ago into “We’re in business to save our home planet”.
Promoting sustainability in the food sector? Here comes Patagonia Provisions
The American brand’s commitment to the environment goes even further. Eight years ago, Patagonia Provisions was born – a company that, in Chouinard’s words “is less of another business company and incarnates a matter of survival” and is committed to promoting sustainability in the food sector. How? Thanks to a line of food products from all over the world that have been selected according to certain guidelines – among others, choosing crops that respect the soil and supporting producers who work ethically.
Worried by the many years of environmental damage caused by the food industry and the current products – frequently containing hormones, pesticides and GMOs – Chouinard has thus decided to take part in “the only revolution we will probably be able to see”, aimed at positive change.