25 Sep

How Ethical Is Patagonia?

Patagonia is widely known as an outdoor and adventure-wear brand that leads the way on taking care of our earth. With a mission statement to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” – Patagonia has set a high bar. Let’s take a look at how well it is met!

Environmental Impact

Patagonia is taking impressive action to reduce its environmental impact. All of its cotton is certified organic by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and it is bluesign® certified for 56% of its fabrics. A high proportion of its materials are made from recycled fabrics, including its polyester, nylon, and wool. Patagonia belongs to both the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and 1% For The Planet. It rejects fast fashion by creating high-quality, long-lasting products, and offers a repair and reuse program. It even goes so far as to discourage customers from purchasing too many of its products.

Patagonia is rated ‘Good’ for the environment due to these fantastic initiatives, but there is more it can do to achieve the top environment rating. While it has taken meaningful action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in its direct operations, Patagonia has not yet set a clear time-bound greenhouse gas reduction target. It complies with a Restricted Substances List, and states it is committed to eliminating hazardous chemicals but has set no deadlines. It also has not made public any water targets – we don’t know whether Patagonia is addressing this issue, but strongly recommend that it puts its commitments and actions on the public record for that final push in this category.

Labour Conditions

Patagonia is leading the way when it comes to labour policies. It received the second highest rating in the 2019 Ethical Fashion Report, which looks at the payment of a living wage, transparency, and worker empowerment. Patagonia’s Supplier Code of Conduct was recognised as groundbreaking – it traces and audits almost all of its facilities, publicly lists its suppliers, and ensure that any subcontracting adheres to code standards.

The brand is also a member of the Fair Labor Association Workplace Code of Conduct. Alongside all this, Patagonia has good worker empowerment initiatives in place, and is progressing towards ensuring a living wage for workers across its supply chain. Patagonia outshines most of its peers in this category, and achieved our highest rating of ‘Great’!

Animal Welfare

Patagonia has strong animal welfare policies, and scores ‘Good’ in this category. It does not use angora, leather or fur in its products, and publicly advocates for animal welfare. It uses recycled wool and down feather that has been accredited by the Global Traceable Down Standard. This standard, which Patagonia helped to develop, guarantees that the birds are not force-fed or live-plucked.

Global animal welfare organisation Four Paws called out Patagonia for its inhumane treatment of birds in the past, but the label was quick to respond. It now works side by side with the organisation to encourage humane practices industry-wide.

Overall Rating: Good

Rated: Good

We've given Patagonia an overall rating of 'Good', based on our own research. This brand lives up to the standards it set itself by pushing for sustainability across the board. To build on that great work we recommend that Patagonia looks at setting and publishing more concrete water and carbon targets, and keep pushing to implement its plans to pay all workers in the supply chain a living wage. Patagonia is certainly a brand worth giving your support to.

Editor's note: Article updated in September 2019. Feature image via Patagonia. Good On You has big plans for ethical fashion! To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offers code or affiliate links.

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