The Cleanest Line

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    What Do We Know About Tiny Plastic Fibers in the Ocean?

    Washer_4

    Much has been written about the effects of plastic on the marine environment, from the Texas-sized Great Pacific garbage patch, to bottles expelled from cruise ships washed up on the beach, to “ghost” nets and weirs abandoned by factory-sized trawlers, and more. A new report on marine plastics was presented at the World Economic Forum earlier this year. It highlights the gravity of plastic pollution—“in 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea”—and notes that plastic packaging is the primary culprit. CNN proclaimed: “The world is flooded with plastic garbage.” The study finds that 95 percent of plastic packaging material is lost to the economy after a short single-use cycle, at a cost of $80-120 billion. The sizeable portion of this plastic that ends up in our environment takes an even greater toll, financially and on the health of the planet.

    Photo: Kyle Sparks

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    The View from Europe: Say No to TTIP

    By Ryan Gellert, Patagonia EMEA

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    This past week Greenpeace leaked 248 pages of negotiating texts and internal position papers that reveal a deep rift among the 28 European governments, the European Union and the U.S., involved in the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

    The Greenpeace report has caused an uproar here in Europe, including an announcement of opposition by the French government to the pact as it stands. Negotiations, which have already stretched out over three years, now appear to be in jeopardy.

    Everyone for and against the pact acknowledges that TTIP has little to do with removing trade barriers, which have long fallen. The focus instead is on harmonizing environmental, health and animal welfare standards, which are generally stronger in the E.U. than in the United States.

    Above: Organic cotton field in Texas. Since 1996, Patagonia has used only organic cotton, which uses nature-based solutions to manage pests and build healthy soil, instead of the synthetic pesticides, herbicides, defoliants, fertilizers and GMO seeds used to grow conventional cotton. Photo: Tim Davis

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    Repair is a Radical Act

    By Rose Marcario, Patagonia CEO

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    This holiday season, I have an early New Year’s resolution for the sake of Planet Earth: let’s all become radical environmentalists.

    This sounds like a big leap—but it’s not. All you need is a sewing kit and a set of repair instructions.

    As individual consumers, the single best thing we can do for the planet is to keep our stuff in use longer. This simple act of extending the life of our garments through proper care and repair reduces the need to buy more over time—thereby avoiding the CO2 emissions, waste output and water usage required to build it.

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    Patagonia Opposes TPP

    By Rose Marcario, Patagonia CEO

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    Now that full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has finally been made public, we can say unequivocally that we oppose it, as it advances the interests of big business at the expense of the environment, workers, consumers, communities and small businesses. This confirms our previous fears (here and here) about the agreement’s serious social and environmental costs.

    The proposed trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations, crafted behind closed doors over a five-year period, may indeed cut tariffs, increase trade and build closer economic and regulatory relationships among its signatories, as its proponents say. But it will also weaken worldwide labor standards, harm the global environment, diminish regulatory safeguards and enable corporations and individuals that already have far too much influence gain even more at the expense of everyone else.

    Map: The Footprint Chronicles®

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    TPP? One global business still says, “No thanks.”

    By Rose Marcario, Patagonia CEO

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    It is good to hear that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has now toned down protections for high pharmaceutical prices and eliminated legal sanctions that help tobacco companies defeat local anti-smoking laws. Better protections for labor, long trumpeted but never delivered in a succession of trade pacts, may well be part of the new language, as well as stronger protections for wildlife from financial exploitation.

    Nevertheless, as TPP enters its next phase—ministerial rewrites, a White House push for support from business and the public, an eventual vote in Congress—we remain opposed to TPP, even though we stand to gain financially from potential duty relief within the 12-nation region.

    The biggest problem remains the secrecy attendant to the TPP. Its Fast Track authority enables the pact to be negotiated privately, without public comment, until voted by Congress, up or down without amendments, and signed into law. So everything any of us knows about this pact, good news and bad, is second-hand and speculative. That’s the opposite of transparency—and it is weak democracy. We can imagine 20 years from now our children shaking their heads that this practice was once considered acceptable.

    Map: The Footprint Chronicles®

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    Our Earth Tax – Patagonia Environmental + Social Initiatives 2015

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    In the conventional model of philanthropy, the big funders—corporations and foundations—mainly support big professional environmental groups. The large national organizations (those with budgets over $5 million) are doing important work but they make up just 2% of all environmental groups, yet receive more than 50% of all environmental grants and donations.

    Meanwhile, funding the environmental movement at a grassroots level—where change happens from the bottom up and lasts—has never been more important. But these groups continue to be woefully underfunded.

    The funding paradigm is out of balance. We aim to change it.

    Above: Patagonia Environmental & Social Initiatives 2015. Pick up a printed copy at your local Patagonia store or read the digital version. Cover photo: Donnie Hedden

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    Our DWR Problem [Updated]

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    Update: The majority of this post first appeared on March 6, 2015. It has been updated here with the most recent information about Patagonia’s work to improve chemical safety in our supply chain.

    Patagonia—as well as other high-quality outdoor outerwear suppliers—for years relied on a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) of a certain chemistry (described below) to bead up, then disperse, surface moisture from rainwear. It is necessary, even in a waterproof jacket, to prevent surface saturation. A soggy surface creates a clammy, wet-feeling next-to-skin climate even where water does not actually penetrate the surface. The DWR we used as a standard for years was a long-chain (C8) fluorocarbon-based treatment that is highly effective and extraordinarily durable. Unfortunately, its by-products are toxic and persist in the environment, a combination that makes it unacceptable despite its excellent performance. Governments around the globe have now required chemical companies to stop making C8 DWR, so every high-quality outerwear supplier has been searching for alternatives of comparable performance.

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    Patagonia to Cease Purchasing Wool from Ovis 21

    Dear Friends, 

    We’ve spent the past several days looking deep into our wool supply chain, shocked by the disturbing footage of animal cruelty that came to light last week. Patagonia’s partnership with Ovis 21 has been a source of pride because of the program’s genuine commitment to regenerating the grassland ecosystem, but this work must come equally with respectful and humane treatment of the animals that contribute to this endeavor.

    The most shocking portion of PETA’s video shows the killing of animals for human consumption. Like those in the Ovis 21 network, most commercial-scale ranches that produce wool from sheep also produce meat. What’s most important is that we apply strong and consistent measures to ensure animals on ranches that supply wool for products bearing the Patagonia name are treated humanely, whether during shearing or slaughter. We took some important steps to protect animals in partnering with Ovis 21, but we failed to implement a comprehensive process to assure animal welfare, and we are dismayed to witness such horrifying mistreatment.

    In light of this, we’ve made a frank and open-eyed assessment of the Ovis program. Our conclusion: it is impossible to ensure immediate changes to objectionable practices on Ovis 21 ranches, and we have therefore made the decision that we will no longer buy wool from them. This is a difficult decision, but it’s the right thing to do.

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    PETA’s Wool Video [Updated]

    Update 8/17/15: Thank you to everyone who commented on this story. Your feedback is very important to us. Please see our follow-up post on this issue for the latest news.

    PETA has shown us video footage from within the Ovis 21 farm network that supplies merino wool for Patagonia’s baselayers and insulation. It is as disturbing as anything PETA puts out. Three minutes long, the video contains graphic footage depicting inhumane treatment of lambs and sheep; of castration; of tail docking (the removal of a sheep’s tail); and slaughter of lambs for their meat. We’ll go into detail below. 

    It’s especially humbling to acknowledge responsibility for the practices shown because the impetus for our original involvement in this project was, in addition to restoring grassland, improvement of animal welfare. In 2005, we became aware (through PETA’s campaign against Australian wool growers) of the painful practice of mulesing sheep to reduce the damage from flystrike. We worked to stop sourcing wool on the open (and untraceable) market as quickly as we could, and even delayed a major product launch of merino baselayers until we could find reliable sources for non-mulesed wool in New Zealand and Australia.

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    TPP? One global business says, “No thanks.”

    By Rose Marcario, Patagonia CEO

    Map

    Patagonia opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and Fast Track approval. We stand to gain financially from TPP and the potential duty relief on products made within the region, but the minor potential gains are not worth the social and environmental costs.

    We have listened closely to the Administration’s assurances that TPP affords unprecedented environmental and labor protections in a trade agreement. We are not persuaded, for several reasons.

    The biggest problem is the secrecy attendant to the negotiation of the TPP, which has enabled the pact to be negotiated privately, without public comment, until voted by Congress, up or down without amendments, and signed into law. This is the opposite of transparency—and it is weak democracy.

    Map: The Footprint Chronicles®

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