“If we’re to keep Earth livable in the future, the clothing industry must change.”
Bold words. Bolder when you consider they come from a popular clothing retailer. But outdoor-gear behemoth Patagonia is proudly wearing its green on its sleeves – and putting its money where its mouth is. In late 2019, Patagonia — pointing out that the clothing industry is responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions — announced it will work toward becoming carbon neutral by 2025.
An aggressive embrace of renewable energy. A main tenant of its strategy is renewable energy. It immediately pledged all energy used in its stores, offices, and distribution center would be renewable by the end of 2020; it has invested in extensive solar production at its headquarters and distribution center. Patagonia supports external projects, earning Renewable Energy Certificates that offset its non-renewable energy consumption. It also supports suppliers investing in renewables at their own facilities.
Addressing supply chain key to meeting target. The company says 95% of its carbon emissions come from that chain, which encompasses everything from textile-related crop production to product delivery to consumer doorsteps. Textiles are a huge factor, and Patagonia has committed to using recycled and renewable materials, using low-emission dying techniques, and researching new, sustainable materials. But addressing textiles isn’t enough: the company will be working with its suppliers – a daunting task – in an effort to help them develop sustainable practices. The company will also counter carbon emissions through regenerative agriculture and reforestation projects.
Patagonia’s environmental activism is part-and-parcel of the brand; publicly announcing and pursuing this aggressive goal takes that a step further. What can we take from Patagonia’s example? That sustainability can be a vital part of a company’s identity. That companies can pursue ambitious goals – and persevere if they are truly committed to real change. That success and sustainability do not have to be mutually exclusive.