Patagonia’s Mission Statement–
“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
Patagonia humbly began as a small company, founded by experienced climber Yvon Chouinard in the early 1970’s. This Ventura, California based company began as an outdoors store specializing in climbing equipment and tools, not apparel.
At first Chouinard imported rugby shirts and corduroy knickers (loose fitting trousers that gather at the knee or calf) for fellow climbers. After Patagonia designed its own clothing line, the sales of apparel began to out-trump that of the climbing equipment, with such a broad range of appeal that mountain climbers and fashion models were wearing the product. Chouinard realized Patagonia’s accidental “trip” into the apparel industry and the need to make the transition from equipment to clothing.
Patagonia is lead by a modest outdoorsman that wouldn’t fit the typical “suit & tie” CEO Stereotype. Yvon Chouinard built his company on the simplistic ideals that he held himself. The conclusion was that if he had to be a businessman, then he would continue building Patagonia on his own terms.
Despite the transition from equipment to apparel, Patagonia remains “Alpine” at heart by producing clothing designed specifically for climbing and the climber’s required needs. Through the years Patagonia has expanded into other outdoor recreational markets such as skiing, snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, paddling, and hiking/trail running.
It’s in all of these recreational sports that Patagonia holds its love and conviction. No rumbling of motors or applauses from the crowd are really required. Patagonia believes that it’s the common faith in those moments of soundless satisfaction, which is shared by all outdoor enthusiasts. It’s the silent connection felt between human and nature once he or she has achieved that graceful victory against the demands of the elements that are most worthwhile.
In fact, it is that very overwhelming love and faith in nature that keeps Patagonia, as a company, firmly “rooted” to its main mission…
That mission is the fight to save the planet by assuming responsibility for it’s very own actions as a company, then by taking measures to help reverse the negative effect placed on the environment that Patagonia and it’s supporters love so much. Patagonia continues to take action to reduce, reuse, and renew resources by utilizing only recycled polyesters and organic cottons in the production of its garments. In addition to the company’s “reduce, renew, reuse, and recycle” efforts, Patagonia takes responsibility for every item it has ever made. This is the promise that Patagonia will replace a product if the customer is dissatisfied, repair an item (for a sensible fee), even help resell it (the company assists in the exchange of used clothes on it’s website), OR once the article of clothing is no longer wearable, Patagonia will recycle it.
Patagonia also demonstrates its eco-friendly consciousness by employing “green” design and technology in the construction of its facilities. Environmental campaigns are often featured in Patagonia’s advertisement campaigns, social, media, marketing, and catalogs. This year, Patagonia’s environmental campaign Our Common Waters highlights the need to balance the human consumption of our water resources verses that of plants and animals. Patagonia recently teamed up with the band WILCO to launch their Vote the Environment campaign to encourage customers to identify what they love about the environment, to register to vote, and then to vote for the environment in this upcoming November election.
Company-wide, Patagonia continuously donates at least 1% of it’s sales, in addition to services and time to thousands of various “grassroots” environmental groups worldwide. Chouinard likens this 1% For the Planet initiative an earth tax and has other companies following suite. Patagonia also supports a number of smaller initiatives such as the Conservation Alliance and the Organic Exchange.
The company provides environmental internships for employees (so cool). In this program employees are able to take a leave of absence to volunteer with an environmental non-profit group of their choice for up to two months! In addition to everything else, Patagonia has launched programs such as the Common Threads Recycling Program, The Footprint Chronicles (an interactive website for customers), and the World Trout Initiative.
For more information on Patagonia, it’s environmental endeavors, or the environmental campaigns it supports, I encourage you to visit patagonia.com