The Cleanest Line

Weblog for the employees, friends and customers of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. Visit Patagonia.com to see what we do.

RSS Feed

Twitter

    Archives

    Search


    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.

    Continue reading "Patagonia to Cease Purchasing Wool from Ovis 21" »

    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.

    Continue reading "PETA’s Wool Video [Updated]" »

    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®

    Continue reading "TPP? One global business says, “No thanks.”" »

    The Unacceptably High Cost of Labor – How a deeper dive into our supply chain led to a new Migrant Worker Standard

    Photo2

    Imagine paying $7,000 to get a job. That’s what some labor brokers charge migrant workers in Asian countries to place them in factory work in Taiwan, where many factory jobs go wanting these days. The practice is considered an acceptable part of doing business, though brokers regularly charge above legal limits. Transportation, work visas and other essentials are included. But paying that kind of money for a factory job is an almost impossible burden for workers already struggling to make a living.

    It creates a form of indentured servitude that could also qualify, less politely, as modern-day slavery. And it’s been happening in our own supply chain.

    Above: Rita Tseng is a social and environmental responsibility (SER) field manager for Patagonia based in Taiwan. Here she meets with migrant workers during a factory audit. She is accompanied by our partners at Verité and their team of expert field staff and interpreters who speak the native languages of the workers. Photo: Jeannie Chen

    Continue reading "The Unacceptably High Cost of Labor – How a deeper dive into our supply chain led to a new Migrant Worker Standard" »

    Our DWR Problem

    Shell_fabric

    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.

    For the past decade, we’ve carefully researched and tested every available fluorocarbon-free alternative. Many finishes—including waxes and silicones—will lower the surface tension of a fabric enough to cause water to bead up and disperse rather than saturate. But they are easily contaminated by dirt and oil and rapidly lose their effectiveness, reducing the effective lifetime of a garment.

    Continue reading "Our DWR Problem" »

    Lowdown on Down: Patagonia introduces 100% Traceable Down

    Td_jmcf_(3)

    From this season (fall 2014) forward, all Patagonia down products contain only 100% Traceable Down. This means all of the down in all of our down products can be traced back to birds that were never force-fed and never live-plucked—we never blend with down we can't trace. The Traceable Down Standard provides the highest assurance of animal welfare in the apparel industry. We began working in 2007 to achieve this, and are the only brand to have done so.

    Artwork: Geoff McFetridge

    Continue reading "Lowdown on Down: Patagonia introduces 100% Traceable Down" »

    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

    Continue reading "Benefit Corporation update: Patagonia Passes B Impact Assessment, Improves Score to 116" »

    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 

    Continue reading "Trying to Be Responsible – Patagonia Environmental & Social Initiatives 2014" »

    Patagonia’s Plastic Packaging – A study on the challenges of garment delivery

    By Nellie Cohen & Elissa Loughman

    IMG_5532_3

    Patagonia’s finished goods factories package each individual product we make in a polybag. Some of our direct customers (people who order from our catalog or Patagonia.com) have expressed disappointment in the amount of waste generated by polybags. This customer feedback inspired us to investigate ways to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated from Patagonia’s product packaging.

    Editor’s note: The tone of today’s post is a bit formal due to its origins as an internal case study. It’s a good look into the workings of our company and the challenging decisions we’re faced with as we try to balance customer satisfaction with environmental impact.

    In order to evaluate how Patagonia can reduce plastic in our supply chain we conducted several tests at our Distribution Center (DC) and surveyed our customers. Through this study, we determined that polybags are critical to insuring that garments stay clean from the finished goods factory through the DC. If we eliminated the use of polybags, garments would be damaged, resulting in both financial and environmental costs. Energy, water and resources are used to make each product and we want them to be worn. A damaged product that is unwearable has a far greater environmental cost than manufacturing a polybag.

    We invite you to read on to see our progress in examining this area of our distribution process and how we’re working through potential ways to lessen our impact going forward, while making sure our products reach you undamaged.

    Above: A look inside the Patagonia DC in Reno, Nevada. Products are picked in the warehouse, sent to packing stations and then to outbound mail via conveyor belts. This system allows us to ship packages with the greatest efficiency, especially during busy periods like sales and holidays. All photos: Nellie Cohen

    Continue reading "Patagonia’s Plastic Packaging – A study on the challenges of garment delivery" »

    Working for Wildness – Patagonia Environmental Initiatives 2013

    By Yvon Chouinard

    Denny_glen_0017_2

    “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” – Thoreau

    This year, Patagonia will be 40 years old. There is much to celebrate on this anniversary, but what I am proudest of is the support we’ve given the people who do the real work to save wildness: grassroots activists.

    I’m not an activist. I don’t really have the guts to be on the front lines. But I have supported activists ever since a young man gave a slide show in 1972 at a city council meeting in Ventura. What was proposed was an extension of utilities, roads and urban services across the Ventura River to support a planned freeway-related commercial development on the western floodplain near the river’s mouth. A lot of scientists got up to speak in support of the project. They said it wouldn’t hurt the river because it was already “dead.” Mark Capelli, who was a young graduate student and called himself “Friends of the Ventura River,” then gave a slide show showing all the life that was still in the river: eels, birds, raccoons. He pointed out there were still 50 steelhead showing up each year to migrate upstream. That brought the house down. The project was eventually stopped. He showed me what one person can do. He gave me hope. We gave him desk space.

    [Above: After 40 years, we still follow an early vision to protect wilderness for the sake of wilderness. Lost Arrow Spire, Yosemite Valley, California. Photo: Glen Denny]

    Continue reading "Working for Wildness – Patagonia Environmental Initiatives 2013" »

    One Percent for the Planet
    © 2014 Patagonia, Inc.