History Of Patagonia

Patagonia, Inc. is an American clothing company which focuses mainly on high-end outdoor clothing. Based in Ventura, California, the company is a member of several environmental movements and is a certified B Corp, meaning the company is beholden to public-benefit concerns (in this case environmental) alongside its profit motive. It was founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973. Patagonia employs a flex-time policy, allowing employees to take time off to go surfing. Geographic Adventure Blog "Gear of the Year" awards in 2010] and holds "Editor's Choice" and "Top Pick" awards from OutdoorGearLab.


The company's roots are in clothing for rock and alpine climbing, but they now offer a diverse mix of apparel targeted towards skiers, surfers, climbers, and others. One of its main product lines is the Capilene base layer clothing. Patagonia recently started making surf-specific products, and currently has three different lines of wetsuits and many different models of swim trunks. Though Patagonia is considered to be a sport-specific apparel manufacturer, some of the company's most popular products are general apparel. Patagonia fleeces, rain jackets, and coats are some of the most widely-worn products in the outdoor apparel industry. Patagonia received two National.

Though Patagonia is considered to be a sport-specific apparel manufacturer, some of the company's most popular products are general apparel. Patagonia fleeces, rain jackets, and coats are some of the most widely-worn products in the outdoor apparel industry. Patagonia received two National


Environmental activism

Patagonia is a major contributor to environmental groups. Patagonia commits 1% of their total sales or 10% of their profit, whichever is more, to environmental groups. Owner Yvon Chouinard was a founding member of One Percent for the Planet, an organization that encourages other businesses to do the same. Since 1985, when the program was first started, Patagonia has donated $46 million in cash and in-kind donations to domestic and international grassroots environmental groups making a difference in their local communities.

Patagonia often features their environmental campaigns in their catalogs and advertisements. Many of their recent campaigns include work with preventing oil drilling in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge, "Ocean As A Wilderness", and "Don't Dam Patagonia".

In early 2008, Patagonia won the 'Eco Brand of the Year' and the best award at the Volvo Ecodesign Forum during the ISPO Trade Show in Munich.

Patagonia also demonstrates their environmental consciousness in the design and construction of their facilities. An example is their Reno Nevada Service Center which employs green design and technologies to initially achieve a LEED Silver and then later Gold certification.

Patagonia initiatives

Patagonia focuses on helping the environment. In addition to large global initiatives, Patagonia also supports several smaller initiatives such as the World Trout Initiative, Environmental Internships, the Conservation Alliance, and the Organic Exchange. Recently, Patagonia launched a worldwide recycling initiative called the Common Threads Recycling Program and has a site devoted to the explanation of their recycling process called The Footprint Chronicles.

One Percent for the Planet

One Percent for the Planet was established in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard and Craig Mathews. Members range from small to large companies from all over the world. Spawned from Patagonia’s original policy of contributing 1% of all sales to environmental organizations since 1985, the 1,486 members of 1% for the Planet each contribute 1% of their total sales to over 2,000 different environmental organizations every year.

World Trout Initiative

Developed by Yvon Chouinard and James Prosek in 2005, the World Trout Initiative works to protect the endangered fish of the world through grants to organizations that protect threatened fish. The mission of the World Trout Initiative is to “identify the individuals and groups that protect native fish, to tell their story and to support their conservation efforts by placing money into the hands of the actual groups protecting the fish.” In the past year alone the World Trout Initiative has granted $75,000 for Fish and Habitat Enhancement, according to FlyFishMagazine.

Environmental internships

Patagonia started their Environmental Internships program in 1993. A Patagonia employee can take a leave of absence with full pay and benefits to volunteer within an environmental non-profit of their choice for up to two months. Employees can work anywhere in the country on any project they want, and over 700 employees have taken advantage of this opportunity to date. Patagonia does not worry about losing workers for a couple months because, according to Lu Setnicka, director of training for Patagonia, "[Patagonia] still consider[s] that they are working for Patagonia, but they are having the opportunity to bring a particular skill set to an organization that could really benefit from it, in some ways more than it would from a grant check. It also gives the employees the opportunity to dive deeper into an issue, partnering with a group that they are interested in." Patagonia also states that, over the years, some employees have left the company to permanently work for the nonprofit that they interned for.

Common Threads recycling program

The Common Threads Initiative is a partnership between the Company and customers to take mutual responsibility for the cradle to grave life of the products Patagonia makes and people purchase. the first goal of the program was to make every item Patagonia sells recyclable. The first recyclable item was Patagonia’s Base layers, but the program has since expanded to several other clothing items. The Common Threads Recycling Program relies on both Patagonia and its customers to accomplish reducing, reusing and repairing, and recycling. The Common Threads Recycling Program allows customers to bring back any Patagonia clothing with the special Common Threads label on it and put it into the store recycling bin. Patagonia then ships the clothing to refurbishment centers around the world where the fabric is processed and turned into a new Patagonia product.  This reduces the amount of virgin material used for Patagonia’s products. Patagonia’s original goal was to make all of its clothing recyclable by fall of 2010; however, they will not reach this goal until fall of 2011 according to the Patagonia holiday catalog which features an article about the initiative.

The Footprint Chronicles

This interactive website lets a customer follow a specific piece of clothing through its entire journey from production to recycle. The website is meant to give customers a glimpse into what Patagonia is doing, and leaves an open forum for customers to comment and try to make the process even better. The point of the website is to help educate consumers about the ecological impact of products, to show customers the good and the bad side of Patagonia, and to open up to suggestions for how they can improve the processes that are still hurting the environment. The Footprint Chronicles features videos about Patagonia’s social and environmental responsibility and easy-to-use contact information for customers to use.

Patagonia Supports

The Organic Exchange

The Organic Exchange is an organization that helps promote education about and use of organic materials in clothing and industry, primarily organic cotton. Patagonia was one of the first companies to switch to entirely organic cotton.

The Conservation Alliance

Founded in 1989 by Patagonia, The North Face, REI and Kelty, the Conservation Alliance encourages outdoor sporting goods stores to contribute monetarily to environmental causes. With over 170 members, 100% of the proceeds go directly to environmental organizations. In 2010, the Conservation Alliance donated $900,000 to these causes.

Move to use traceable down

As of fall 2014, Patagonia uses 100% traceable down to ensure that birds were not force-fed or live-plucked and that down is not blended with down from unknown sources. The company is working with animal welfare organization FOUR PAW to audit its supply chain. This move was made in response to previous criticism from FOUR PAWS, which had said Patagonia used live-plucked down feathers and downs of force-fed geese. In a statement on their website, Patagonia denied use of live-plucking but said it had used down procured from the foie-gras industry.