Why Patagonia is one of the most Responsible Companies in the World

By Daniel Connolly 

13th May 2021

(Image: Graphic of Patagonia and its 7 reasons as to why it is a responsible company, alongside a climber and mountain)

The business of clothes making is wholly unsustainable. Accounting for around 10% of the global greenhouse gases emitted to the Earth and responsible for discharging 1.2 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere. It also relies heavily on water, chemicals and fossil fuels across the supply chain. The clothing industry impacts our planet in a terrifyingly negative way. So, what is being done to reduce the environmental impact? 

Patagonia, a US outdoor clothing brand, is leading the charge in this domain. Here are 7 reasons as to why Patagonia is helping to revolutionise the clothing industry through their environmental activism, and are in turn, one of the most responsible companies in the world.

Leadership and mission

Patagonia was founded in 1973 by Yvon Chouinard, an outdoor enthusiast, whose disapproval of traditional business has coalesced around sustainability. Therefore, the company ethos of sustainability has been woven into the fabric of the organisation from the very start. With Patagonia’s core mission to save our planet, the company recognises its place in the context of the threat of extinction and tackles these threats with urgent significance. On the company’s website, they detail that “we aim to use the resources we have – our businesses, our investments, our voice, and our imaginations – to do something about it”. In displaying this target and highlighting the organisation’s core values of building the best product, causing no unnecessary harm, protecting nature and not being bound by convention, Patagonia made their intentions to be a responsible company from the outset.


Assessment and constant monitoring are mightily necessary to be a sustainable company. Patagonia carries this out both internally and externally through a third party, and looks to be transparent in these assessments by detailing their results publicly. Current CEO of the company, Jenna Johnson, said: “we measure a lot… including the carbon footprint of our entire process… I believe in transparency first and foremost”. By releasing the outcomes of their monitoring processes, Patagonia welcomes constructive criticism, which they recognise as part of their growth in transparency and sustainability. 


Patagonia produces tools and clothes for numerous outdoor sports, including climbing, skiing and trail running, so the amounts and variability of clothing and material needed in their production processes is gigantic. To combat the excessive amount of clothes they produce, Patagonia makes use of 87 percent recycled materials in their clothing, with polyester, nylon and wool materials all manufactured from recycled fabrics. Additionally, the company utilises certified organic cotton and traceable goose feathers, and makes jackets that are PFC-free, meaning that it is free from manmade chemicals. This kind of effort in manufacturing is mightily important, as the clothing industry is notorious for relying on fossil fuels and finite materials in their products.

Repair, resell and waste

As part of an effort to keep their products out of landfill sites, Patagonia works hard to collect and refurbish their old clothing as part of five waste combatting principles: Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle and Reimagine. By utilising a scheme named ‘Worn Wear’, consumers are permitted to buy used clothing, and are enabled to trade-in and fix worn items. Buying second hand clothes urges people to keep landfill sites free of clothing and disallows new articles from being made. In complying with this notion, Patagonia offers a lifetime repair guarantee and has a full-time staff of 45 repair technicians, which has grown 40 percent in the last year. 

Initiatives, standards and campaigns

By launching a string of innovative programmes that embody the core values of the company, Patagonia holds itself to a high standard and dedicates themselves to environmental and ethical initiatives. To fight the culture of excess, encouraging responsible purchasing and advising customers to buy only what they need, the company launched a campaign named “Common Threads” under an ad that read “Don’t Buy This Jacket”. The company also involves themselves in the support of carbon sequestration, which is the process of carbon removal. In funding companies which continue to involve multiple forms of carbon sequestration, Patagonia makes their support of this process evident.

Giving and donating

Giving and donating is a gigantic proponent of Patagonia’s involvement with the protection of the natural world and their support of almost $90 million to grassroots activist organisations. The company runs a campaign called 1% for the Planet, donating one percent of its global sales to initiatives that preserve and restore the natural environment. With Patagonia being a billion-dollar company, this 1% makes a small difference to the planet. In the interest of nature conservation, Patagonia donated more than a third of a million acres of land in Argentina to construct the country’s most prominent nature preserve. Additionally, Patagonia urges their employees to donate their time to environmental conservation projects, paying the salary of employees who volunteer for up to two months each year.

Striving for constant improvement

Patagonia has an ambitious target – Save the planet. Its endless quest to do so represents a lot of what makes the company such an outlier as a clothing brand. Whilst Patagonia is not a perfect company, with an absence of an animal welfare policy and instances of forced labour in Taiwan, their efforts to improve and apply standards and initiatives to limit the likelihood of these situations reoccurring does not go unnoticed. “What sets Patagonia apart is its dedication to identifying problems and managing them” (thegreenmarketoracle.com). 

Patagonia goes far beyond measures to ensure that, as a company, they are acting as responsibly as they possibly can. In an industry that is known for abusive working conditions and environmental destruction, Patagonia has forged a sustainable pathway. The billion-dollar global brand is a clear demonstration that businesses can be both intensely responsible and massively profitable. Ultimately, they are a leader in the fashion industry as they uphold their environmental duties to an unbelievably high standard, making them one of the most responsible companies in the world.

(All facts, quotes and data has been sourced from thegreenmarketoracle.com)

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