For-profit

Patagonia

Website:

www.patagonia.com/home/

Location:

Ventura, CA

Formation:

1973

CEO:

Ryan Gellert

Type:

Apparel company

Patagonia is an apparel company known for its activism, including donating 1 percent of its revenue to more than 1,000 nonprofits. [1] Though Patagonia is best known for supporting environmentalist causes, the company also supports other left-of-center policy goals, including abortion access and online censorship.

In 2012, Patagonia became the first company in California to officially become a B corporation, a designation that creates a parallel legal obligation for the corporation to pursue profitable and environmentalist goals. [2] Patagonia is also a founder and member of the Fair Labor Association, an international network of companies and nonprofits that promote adherence to labor laws. [3]

In 2022, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and his family relinquished control of the company to a trust and a nonprofit which are intended to continue Chouinard’s business principles during his retirement and after his death.

Corporate Activism

Patagonia was founded on environmentalist principles. The earliest concept of the business arose from founder Yvon Chouinard manufacturing environmentally friendly climbing equipment. The company’s inaugural catalogue included a manifesto for environmentally responsible climbing. [4] Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert has called the company a “weird mashup” of a for-profit company and a non-governmental organization. [5]

One Percent for the Planet

In 1985, Patagonia began donating ten percent of its post-tax profits to charitable environmentalist causes. It later raised its donations to one percent of total revenue, amounting to $140 million by 2022. Other companies have also made the One Percent for the Planet pledge. [6] Environmentalist recipients of funds generated by the One Percent for the Planet pledge include the National Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, the Rainforest Trust, the Access Fund, and Conservation International. [7] [8]

Abortion Support

In June 2022, Patagonia announced it would pay bail for any employees arrested for protesting in support of abortion access. [9]

In 1990, Patagonia donated to Planned Parenthood. After receiving angry calls from Christian Fundamentalists, the company claimed it would donate $5 every time it received a call. [10]

Deep Sea Mining Moratorium

In December 2021, Patagonia joined a call for a moratorium on deep sea mining until further research can evaluate environmental impacts. Other corporations aligned with Patagonia include Google, Samsung, and Phillips. Greenpeace publicly supported Patagonia’s efforts. [11]

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Boycott

In August 2021, Patagonia announced that it was removing all of its products from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort after Jay Kemmerer, one of the resort’s owners, co-hosted a fundraiser for controversial U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). [12]

Georgia Voting Rights

In April 2021, Patagonia donated $1 million to the Black Voters Matter Fund and the New Georgia Project in response to voting security legislation in Georgia. [13]

2020 Election

During the 2020 election, Patagonia printed a tag in a line of pants reading “Vote the A**holes Out.” Chouinard said the tag referred to any politicians “who deny or disregard the climate crisis and ignore science.” [14]

Also during the election, Patagonia gave employees up to four paid vacation days to serve as poll workers. [15]

Stop Hate for Profit

In June 2020, Patagonia joined Stop Hate for Profit, a boycott led by the Anti-Defamation League against purchasing Facebook and Instagram advertisements in response to Facebook allegedly permitting hate speech on its websites. [16]

Trump Corporate Tax Cuts

In November 2018, Patagonia announced it was donating $10 million saved by corporate tax cuts pushed by President Trump to environmentalist groups. Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario condemned the tax cuts as “irresponsible” and urged more government spending to combat climate change. [17]

National Monuments Lawsuit

In December 2017, Patagonia sued President Donald Trump (R), the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management and the Chief of the Forest Service, for allegedly violating the Antiquities Act of 1906 after ordering the reduction of protected land in two national monuments. [18]

Trade Show Boycott

In February 2017, Patagonia announced it would boycott the annual Outdoor Retailer trade show if it was held in Salt Lake City due to the Utah government’s passage of a resolution to ask then-President Trump to transfer control of Bear’s Ears National Monument from the federal government to the Utah state government. After numerous companies joined Patagonia in its boycott, the trade show moved out of Utah for the first time in twenty years. [19]

Black Friday Donation

In November 2016, Patagonia denoted its entire Black Friday sales, $10 million, to environmentalist groups. [20]

“Don’t Buy This Jacket” Ad

In November 2011, Patagonia placed an ad in the New York Times with a picture of one of its jackets and the headline, “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” Patagonia explained on its website that the ad was a component of the Common Threads Initiative (now known as Our Footprint), a campaign by Patagonia urging customers to buy fewer things, and companies to build products with fewer materials. [21]

Nonprofit Recipients

Except for the Holdfast Collective, Patagonia exclusively donates to American nonprofits or equivalents based in Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and select countries in South America and Europe. Patagonia does not donate to organizations involved in purchasing land for conservation, research (except on climate change), environmental education, bike advocacy, or political campaigns. [22]

Patagonia’s donation recipients include Extinction Rebellion, Save Our Rivers, Friends of the Earth, Surfers against Sewage, and Rewilding Britain. [23]

Military Contracting

Since the late 1980s, Patagonia has been a contractor with the U.S. Department of Defense through its tactical clothing subsidiary, Lost Arrow. The company supplies cold weather gear to special forces units. [24]

Criticism

Critics of Patagonia have claimed that its activism efforts are primarily intended to be “indirect advertisements to boost the company’s profits.” [25]

Jim Geraghty of right-of-center magazine National Review has expressed skepticism that Patagonia and founder Yvon Chouinard are genuine about their environmentalist policies and anti-capitalist beliefs given the explosive growth of the company, its military contracting, and Chouinard’s personal wealth. [26] [27]

Though Patagonia has promoted environmentally friendly materials and products, it has been criticized for insufficiently committing to its environmental principles in its production. In 2015, Greenpeace criticized Patagonia for its use of toxic chemicals. Other groups have criticized the company for using non-degradable synthetic fleece and microplastics in various products. [28]

During the United Nation’s 2021 Climate Change Conference (COP26), Patagonia announced that it would no longer call itself a “sustainable brand” because it considered its environmental impact too large. [29]

Transfer of Ownership

In August 2022, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, his wife, and their two children, transferred all voting shares (about 2 percent of total shares) of the company to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, a trust overseen by the Chouinards dedicated to using Patagonia’s profits for philanthropic environmental purposes. The other 98 percent of shares were transferred to the Holdfast Collective, an advocacy group that seeks to combat climate change. The two nonprofits will donate 100 percent of Patagonia’s future profits (currently around $100 million annually) to environmentalist efforts. Patagonia has already donated $50 million to Holdfast. [30] [31]

Chouinard said: “Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people…. We are going to give away the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working on saving this planet.” [32]

The Chouinards paid $17.5 million in gift taxes on the transfer. [33]

Capital Good Fund CEO Andy Posner has called for Elon Musk to turn over control of Twitter to a nonprofit, and has referred to Chouinard’s conduct with Patagonia as an exemplar. [34]

Patagonia Action Works

Patagonia runs Patagonia Action Works, a platform that connects activists, organizations, and social causes, primarily related to environmentalism. [35]

References

  1. “Patagonia Action Works.” Shorty Awards. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://shortyawards.com/3rd-socialgood/patagonia-action-works. ^
  2. McKinnon, Patricia. “Patagonia’s Strategy, 10 Times it Stood Out from the Pack.” Indigo Digital. September 14, 2021. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.indigo9digital.com/blog/patagoniastrategy. ^
  3. Paumgarten, Nick. “Patagonia’s Philosopher-King.” The New Yorker. September 12, 2016. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/09/19/patagonias-philosopher-king. ^
  4. “Yvon Chouinard: the Patagonia climber-surfer who inspires millions.” Surfer Today. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.surfertoday.com/surfing/yvon-chouinard-the-story-of-the-legendary-patagonia-founder. ^
  5. Chang, Andrea. “Patagonia shows corporate activism is simpler than it looks.” Los Angeles Times. May 9, 2021. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-05-09/patagonia-shows-corporate-activism-is-simpler-than-it-looks. ^
  6. “1% for the Planet.” Patagonia. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.patagonia.com/one-percent-for-the-planet.html. ^
  7. [1] “Environmental Partners.” One Percent for the Planet. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://onepercentfortheplanet.org/environmental-partners. ^
  8. Paumgarten, Nick. “Patagonia’s Philosopher-King.” The New Yorker. September 12, 2016. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/09/19/patagonias-philosopher-king. ^
  9. Scribner, Herb. “Patagonia will bail out employees arrested in abortion protests.” Axios. June 24, 2022. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.axios.com/2022/06/24/patagonia-bail-abortion-protests-roe-wade. ^
  10. McKinnon, Patricia. “Patagonia’s Strategy, 10 Times it Stood Out from the Pack.” Indigo Digital. September 14, 2021. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.indigo9digital.com/blog/patagoniastrategy. ^
  11. “Greenpeace welcomes Patagonia’s move against deep seabed mining.” Greenpeace. December 1, 2021. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/greenpeace-welcomes-patagonias-move-against-deep-seabed-mining/. ^
  12. Thuermer Jr., Angus M. “Patagonia dumps Jackson Hole ski resort after far-right fundraiser.” Wyo File. August 18, 2021. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://wyofile.com/patagonia-dumps-jackson-hole-ski-resort-after-far-right-fundraiser/. ^
  13. Choi, Joeseph. “Patagonia to donate $1 million to Georgia voting rights groups.” The Hill. April 6, 2021. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/business-a-lobbying/546679-patagonia-to-donate-1-million-to-georgia-voting/. ^
  14. McKinnon, Patricia. “Patagonia’s Strategy, 10 Times it Stood Out from the Pack.” Indigo Digital. September 14, 2021. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.indigo9digital.com/blog/patagoniastrategy. ^
  15. McKinnon, Patricia. “Patagonia’s Strategy, 10 Times it Stood Out from the Pack.” Indigo Digital. September 14, 2021. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.indigo9digital.com/blog/patagoniastrategy. ^
  16. Culliford, Elizabeth. “Patagonia joins The North Face in Facebook ad boycott.” Reuters. June 22, 2020. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-ads-patagonia/patagonia-joins-the-north-face-in-facebook-ad-boycott-idUSKBN23T2JG. ^
  17. Miller, Ryan W. “Patagonia plans to donate $10 million saved from Trump tax cuts to environmental groups.” USA Today. November 28, 2018. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/11/28/patagonia-money-saved-trump-tax-cut-environmental-cause/2143733002/. ^
  18. Gelles, David. “Patagonia v. Trump.” The New York Times. May 5, 2018. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/05/business/patagonia-trump-bears-ears.html. ^
  19. Reimers, Frederick. “Moving Outdoors Retailer Isn’t About Politics. It’s About Money.” Outside. February 8, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/environment/outdoor-industry-pushes-back-against-utah/. ^
  20. Kavilanz, Parija. “Patagonia’s Black Friday sales hit $10 million—and will donate it all.” CNN Business. November 29, 2016. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://money.cnn.com/2016/11/29/technology/patagonia-black-friday-donation-10-million/index.html. ^
  21. “Don’t Buy This Jacket, Black Friday and the New York Times.” Patagonia. November 25, 2011. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.patagonia.com/stories/dont-buy-this-jacket-black-friday-and-the-new-york-times/story-18615.html. ^
  22. “How We Fund.” Patagonia. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://www.patagonia.com/how-we-fund/. ^
  23. Hammett, Ellen. “How Patagonia is ‘unlocking’ the power of its community to fight the climate crisis.” Marketing Week. September 25, 2019. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://www.marketingweek.com/patagonia-action-works-environmental-campaign/. ^
  24. Geraghty, Jim. “That Big Military Contractor … Patagonia.” National Review. September 16, 2020. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/that-big-military-contractor-patagonia/. ^
  25. Erdmane, Annija. “Patagonia’s Conflicting Green Consumerism.” Commercial Waste. July 3, 2019. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://commercialwaste.trade/patagonias-conflicting-green-consumerism/. ^
  26. Geraghty, Jim. “That Big Military Contractor… Patagonia.” National Review. September 16, 2020. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/that-big-military-contractor-patagonia/. ^
  27. Geraghty, Jim. “The Socialist Billionaire Who’s Getting a Sweet Tax Deal.” National Review. September 16, 2022. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://www.nationalreview.com/the-morning-jolt/the-socialist-billionaire-whos-getting-a-sweet-tax-deal/. ^
  28. [1] Erdmane, Annija. “Patagonia’s Conflicting Green Consumerism.” Commercial Waste. July 3, 2019. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://commercialwaste.trade/patagonias-conflicting-green-consumerism/. ^
  29. “How Ethical is Patagonia?” Good On You. February 23, 2022. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://goodonyou.eco/how-ethical-is-patagonia/. ^
  30. Gelles, David. “Billionaire No More: Patagonia Founder Gives Away the Company.” New York Times. September 14, 2022. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/14/climate/patagonia-climate-philanthropy-chouinard.html. ^
  31. “Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard Is the Anti-Trump.” Advocate. October 26, 2022. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://www.advocate.com/exclusives/2022/10/26/patagonias-yvon-chouinard-anti-trump. ^
  32. Gelles, David. “Billionaire No More: Patagonia Founder Gives Away the Company.” New York Times. September 14, 2022. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/14/climate/patagonia-climate-philanthropy-chouinard.html. ^
  33. Gelles, David. “Billionaire No More: Patagonia Founder Gives Away the Company.” New York Times. September 14, 2022. Accessed December 14, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/14/climate/patagonia-climate-philanthropy-chouinard.html. ^
  34. Posner, Andy. “An Open Letter to Elon Musk: For the Sake of the Public Good, Turn Twitter Into a Nonprofit.” Philanthropy. November 30, 2022. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/an-open-letter-to-elon-musk-for-the-sake-of-the-public-good-turn-twitter-into-a-nonprofit. ^
  35. “Patagonia Action Works.” Patagonia. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://www.patagonia.com/actionworks/home/explore/all. ^
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Patagonia


Ventura, CA