The Cleanest Line

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    Paddle to DC: A Quest for Clean Water

    By Dave Freeman, video by Nate Ptacek


    The plastic sign posted to a tree in our campsite reads: “ALL FISH MUST BE RETURNED TO THE WATER IMMEDIATELY. FISH CONTAMINATED WITH PCBs DO NOT EAT.” Paddling through a superfund site is not typically part of a canoe trip, but on day 73 and 74 of our journey from Ely, Minnesota to Washington D.C., that’s where we find ourselves.

    My wife Amy and I are about 1,500 miles into a 100-day, 2,000-mile expedition to protect the million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from the threat of sulfide ore mining. We departed from the Voyageur Outward Bound School on the Kawishiwi River on August 24, 2014 where a flotilla of 20 canoes joined us on the water for the first mile. We paddled right past the proposed mine site of Twin Metals and followed the flow into the pristine Boundary Waters to begin our journey.

    Video: Paddle to DC: A Quest for Clean Water from Save The BWCA on Vimeo.

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    Benefit Corporation update: Patagonia Passes B Impact Assessment, Improves Score to 116

    By Elissa Loughman

    1105x622_Bcorp

    Patagonia has a passion for the outdoors. We aspire to make the best products for the most committed athletes, all the while trying to minimize our impact on the earth and the communities that inhabit it. It can be challenging at times for us to clearly convey how this passion for the outdoors is so closely linked to our business, the products we make and the environmental initiatives we pursue. Ultimately, it is important to us that Patagonia plays a role in preserving our natural resources and the connections that humans have to the earth. We strive to accomplish this to the best of our ability and maintain a level of transparency about the impacts caused by our operations.

    Above: Yvon Chouinard gives a short speech after Patagonia became the first California company to sign up for Benefit Corporation status. Sacramento, California. Photo: Patagonia Archives

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    The Cleanest Power – $20 Million & Change invests in Hawaiian rooftop solar project

    Last year, Patagonia Works announced the launch of $20 Million & Change, an investment fund for companies and initiatives that, in the words of our founder Yvon Chouinard, “work with nature rather than use it up.” We promised to update you from time to time on how this project is shaping up.

     

    Patagonia Solar infographic

     

    We’re entering into an agreement with Kina‘ole Capital Partners to create a $27 million fund that will purchase more than 1,000 rooftop solar power systems in Hawai‘i, where most homeowners currently use electricity generated by coal and oil.

    If more businesses followed this investment strategy, we’d have a full-on renewable energy movement on our hands. Conventional wisdom too often assumes business success is incompatible with helping the planet. This investment shows we can do good business by working with nature, rather than using it up—and we’re providing a roadmap for other companies interested in getting their dollars involved too.

    Read how it works—and then help us spread the word on social media!

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    Gone Marching

    By Betsy Pantazelos

    Bp_pcm_2b

    Today did not start like most other days for the employees of Patagonia stores in New York City. We didn’t restock shelves, we didn’t organize products and we didn’t open the doors at normal hours for our customers. Instead, with the blessing of the company—and our CEO, Rose Marcario, at our side—we joined our neighbors for the People’s Climate March.

    After a gathering at the Upper West Side store with Protect Our Winters, Catskill Mountainkeeper, HeadCount, employees and supporters, we all headed for the streets to reinforce the importance of keeping the health of the environment at the forefront of world discussions instead of on the back burner. What followed was the largest rally of its kind to date.

    Above: Employees and customers assembled to march. Photo: Betsy Pantazelos

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    Why I’m Joining the People’s Climate March

    By Rose Marcario, CEO, Patagonia

    091814_nyc_climatemarch

    It is the work of this generation to make clear we reject the status quo—a race toward the destruction of our planet and the wild places we play in and love. We cannot sit idly by while large special interests destroy the planet for profit without regard for our children and grandchildren.

    We have to keep the pressure on. That means being loud and visible in the streets, in town halls and our capitals, and most important, in our elections—voting for candidates who understand we are facing a climate crisis. It means protecting local surf breaks, rivers, grasslands, mountains—and supporting sustainable agriculture. We have to take personal responsibility, and that means consuming less and leading simpler, more examined lives.  

    The People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday, September 21 is a chance to make a big statement about the future of our planet. At Patagonia, we’ve decided that all four of our stores in NYC will remain closed until 3 p.m. that day so our employees will have the option to take part. And I’m looking forward to joining them.

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    Elwha River Uplift

    Words and photos by Dylan Tomine

    Elwharaftkids

    The kids and I decided to squeeze in one last, close-to-home, weekday excursion before school started, so we headed over to the newly dam-free Elwha River for a little float. The last piece of the upper dam was removed last week, so it seemed like a good time to go see what had changed since I was there earlier this summer. And I wanted the kids to experience a river being reborn. That’s Weston and Skyla starting out, courtesy of our friends at Olympic Raft & Kayak.

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    Innovation and Wilderness

    By John Wallin

    Double Mtn, Arctic Refuge

    I started selling fleece for Patagonia in 1993, and for six years I worked in Washington D.C., Bozeman and Reno in various customer service functions. I had a blast, learned a ton about product and people and made a network of friends who are as important to me as my college cohorts. During this time, I also began to see myself as a wilderness activist.

    The Wilderness Act turns 50 this week and provides a welcome opportunity to reflect on a uniquely American innovation. The idea, novel at the time, that our wild lands are special and worthy of protection, is embedded in the language of the Act: “A wilderness… is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” And more than almost any other law I can think of, the Wilderness Act has proved an adaptable tool for citizens to act as true patriots in the defense of their land. To date, more than 109 million acres have been protected in perpetuity as wilderness, which sounds like a lot, but in reality is only about 5% of the United States.

    Above: Camping along the Marsh Fork of the Canning River, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. All photos by Ron Hunter

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    Delta Dawn

    By Pete McBride

    On an unusual Monday in March in the hamlet of San Luis Río Colorado, in the Mexican state of Sonora, hundreds of people gathered below a bridge that spans the dry channel of the Colorado River. The polka-beat of Ranchero music mixed with the sound of laughter across the sandy basin. It was a party of all ages and everyone waited for the guest of honor: agua.

    Editor's note: In 2011, Patagonia's environmental campaign, Our Common Waters, explored the need to balance human water needs with those of animals and plants. One of the most powerful stories to come out of that campaign was Pete McBride traveling the length of the Colorado River in his short film, Chasing Water. Today, we're pleased to share a follow-up story from Pete.

    Located 23 miles downstream of Morelos Dam—the last dam on the Colorado—San Luis is where the river finally leaves the border behind and journeys into mainland Mexico. From here, the riverbed winds 80 some miles (148 kms) to the Sea of Cortez. But for nearly two decades, water has rarely escaped the sealed downstream gates of the dam. Instead, Mexico's entire Colorado River allocation turns west—diverted into the giant, concrete irrigation Reforma Canal so we can eat baby spinach in the winter. What is left below is a river of sand.

    Above: Delta Dawn - Paddling a River Run Free. Video: Pete McBride.

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    Trying to Be Responsible – Patagonia Environmental & Social Initiatives 2014

    By Jim Little

    ENV14_TOC

    We just finished our 2014 Environmental & Social Initiatives booklet and would love to share it with you. In it you’ll find a pretty comprehensive accounting of everything Patagonia did this year to conduct ourselves in an environmentally and socially conscious manner. The booklet includes stories about our efforts as a business and as individuals, and a list of all the environmental groups (770 of them working in 16 countries) we helped to support.

    Above are some shots from the booklet’s table of contents to give you a taste of what lies within, and below the fold, an easy to digest number-by-number approach (ala Harper’s Index) that quantifies some of our work. If you’d like to dive in deeper, click the booklet at the end of this post and flip through the pages. We hope you enjoy!

    Photos: (clockwise, top left-right) Eli Steltenpohl, Mikey Schaefer, Lindsay Walker, Tony Clevenger, Ben Knight. Artwork: Amanda Lenz 

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    A River Reborn – Floating the Elwha River after dam removal

    By Dylan Tomine

    Elwha_crack

    It’s difficult to put into words exactly how it feels to experience the newly free Elwha River. Gratitude, for sure, for all the people and organizations who put so much into bringing the dams down. And awe, as nature takes over and the river finds it’s new-old path to the sea. And fun, of course, to be there taking it all in with my good friend and DamNation producer/underwater photographer, Matt Stoecker.

    We floated the Elwha under crazy blue skies and warm air, with the winners of the Patagonia/DamNation photo contest and our gracious hosts from Olympic Raft & Kayak. All around amazing experience. Despite what the dam-removal critics said, the sediment load in the water has settled out quickly, leaving the water clear, with the slight milky, blue-green tint one expects of a glacial river in summertime.

    Above: A painted crack and message on Glines Canyon Dam foreshadowed its removal over two decades later. Elwha River, Olympic National Park, Washington in a scene from DamNation. Photo: Mikal Jakubal

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