The Ethical Superstore – Patagonia

The Ethical Superstore

Founded in 1972, Patagonia is an ethosolution organization, producer of ethosolution products, and ethical superstore that grew from a small business into the sustainability and environmental powerhouse they now represent. Their focus is to truly make a positive impact in the world and their primary engines for doing this are providing an ethical shopping alternative through organic sportswear, organic outdoor clothing, ethical business practices, their Common Threads Initiative, and an amazing diversity of other approaches to eco-green product creation and environmental activism. While their environmental action arguably touches in some way every environmental sector of the planet, Patagonia was one of the first companies in the world to switch to entirely organic cotton for their main consumer offering: go green products for physical lifestyles and sports like climbing, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, paddling, trail running and more.

Clear in their dedication to a different way of looking at the word, they state on their website:

These are all silent sports. None requires a motor; none delivers the cheers of a crowd. In each sport, reward comes in the form of hard-won grace and moments of connection between us and nature.

Statements like this and the Patagonia corporate culture demonstrate a commitment to values of utility and simplicity and the minimalist styles promoted by many of the people that enjoy sports such as climbing and surfing. They also ring soundly of the deeper ethical nature that, in our opinion, makes Patagonia an exceptional ethosolution example!

ethosolution organization, patagonia, common threads initiative, reverse the tide of destruction, ethical superstoreDistinguishing Factors of this Green Products Company Superstar

In order to reverse some of the damage being done to our planet, Patagonia as a green products company donates 1% of their total sales or 10% of their profits, whichever is more, to hundreds of grassroots environmental groups all over the world who work to help reverse the tide of the destruction of our planet. Since 1985 this has amounted to over 45 million dollars! In addition, Patagonia reduces their pollution as much as possible and use recycled polyesters and only organic, rather than pesticide-intensive cotton in their organic sportswear. They even incorporate eco-conscious design and materials into their buildings.

They have won the Sustainability Lifetime Achievement Award, Business Ethics Award, and they are a Fair Labor Association accredited company due to their socially responsible, ethical, and safe working environments.

Additional Patagonia Sustainability Initiatives

In addition to all of this Patagonia has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to global sustainability and best practice sustainability support for The Highest Good of All by founding or co-founding a diversity of other amazing environmental initiatives including:

1% For the Planet

Patagonia co-founded 1% For the Planet in 2002 as an alliance of  businesses that commit, like Patagonia, at least 1% of their total sales to the environment. At the time this page was created, 1% For the Planet is generating over $15 million dollars a year in contributions to supporting over 2,000 different environmental organizations! Visit their 1% For the Planet website for more details.

Environmental Internships

Launched in 1993, Patagonia employees can receive up to 1 month’s pay and benefits while they volunteer within an environmental non-profit of their choice. At the time of this feature, over 850 employees have taken advantage of this! Visit the regularly updated Patagonia page on their environmental internships for the most up-to-date numbers.

World Trout Initiative

The World Trout Initiative was started in 2005 to protect the endangered fish of the world through grants to organizations that protect threatened fish. At the time of this page’s creation they have raised and contributed over $400,000 to the preservation of fish! Visit the regularly updated Patagonia page on the World Trout Initiative for the most up-to-date numbers.

The Footprint Chronicles

The Footprint Chronicles is an interactive website that lets a customer follow the journey of a specific piece of clothing from creation to recycling. The purpose of the website is transparency about how Patagonia conducts business and the maintenance of an open forum for customers to comment and try and make the process even better.

Here’s a quick view of exploring the Footprint Chronicles on the web:

Common Threads Initiative and Recycling Program

In 2005 Patagonia launched what we feel is one of the most forward thinking initiatives of any company we’ve reviewed thus far: The Common Threads Initiative. The purpose of this program is to make every item Patagonia sells recyclable and re-imagine the world as a sustainable place through a “reduce, repair, reuse, recycle, re-imagine” campaign that has already led to the recycling of over 45 tons of clothes into 34 tons of new clothes!

Even more important than that, through their Common Threads Initiative Pledge, Patagonia is actually promoting a conscious consumer pledge and commitment that states:

“I agree to buy only what I need (and will last), repair what breaks, reuse (share) what I no longer need and recycle everything else.”

Wow! Here are more details on each part of the Common Threads Initiative:


Patagonia designs eco green products to last and stay useful, and asks their customers to only buy what they need or can use, and use it in the best way possible. They also teach that everything anyone makes costs the planet more life than it gives back with most of the energy consumed in the life of a garment (about ½) going into laundering, ironing, and drying.


Patagonia focuses on organic outdoor clothing that wear out as evenly as possible and they will even repair your clothes for you. Their policy is to get repairs unpacked, done and back in the mail to you within 10 business days, paying for repairs they’re responsible for, and charging only a fair price for repairs due to normal wear and tear.

the ethical superstore REUSE

Patagonia believes nothing wearable should be hoarded; useful things should be in circulation. The Common Threads Initiative teaches people to reuse what you no longer need, whether you’ve given up climbing or no longer wear brown. They also teach people to donate unused clothes to a charity or sell them through the Patagonia Common Threads Initiative site on eBay or on their online shop. Patagonia “walks their talk” even further and donates their factory seconds to activists working in the field and sends some of last season’s unsold goods to people who lose their belongings in disasters.


the ethical superstore

Patagonia teaches recycling as part of their Common Thread’s Initiative because they are clear that everything natural or manufactured comes to the end of its life. The believe that everything natural gives life to something new, so should the things we make. With this in mind, whatever you’ve bought from Patagonia that’s finally worn-out, you can return, so that they can recycle it into new fiber or fabric (or repurpose what can’t yet be recycled). Since 2005, they’ve taken back 45 tons of clothing for recycling and made 34 tons into new clothes – thanks to the customers who have taken it back to a Patagonia store.


Two-thirds of our economy is based on the purchase of consumer goods. From Patagonia’s perspective, to blindly purchase what’s neither good for the planet nor ourselves is the definition of unsustainable. With this in mind they teach and demonstrate through their corporate culture and massive sustainability contributions that every action we take together to protect the land and waters we love creates a sustainable future. Their message to the population of the planet: “Let’s buy what’s healthy and useful; let’s stay away from what we don’t need and what causes unnecessary harm.”

“We’re stepping into territory that no company has ever gone into before, no company has ever told their customers ‘don’t buy our stuff unless you really need it.’ But if we don’t do that, if we don’t get this conversation started with our customers, with other companies, then the consequences for all of us are really dire.”

Rick Ridgeway ~ Vice President of Patagonia Environmental Initiatives

Our Common Waters Campaign

the ethical superstoreOur Common Waters is Patagonia’s campaign about balancing human water use with the needs of animals and plants. Their focus of this campaign is educating consumers, maintaining a “Take Action Now: Two Clicks for a Fresh Water Future” page, and helping to restore rivers through operations like the Save the Colorado River campaign that donated $170,000 to 15 organizations working to save the Colorado River.


Patagonia is a shining example of what we call operating for The Highest Good of All with a track record of over 40 years of demonstrating and promoting sustainability while supporting other sustainable organizations too. Thank you Patagonia for being a leader and an inspiration! It is an honor to feature you as an ethosolution.

Even with all that we have listed here, there is still more that Patagonia is doing, much more. To get to know this amazing company better, and learn about all the things we didn’t have space for here, please visit their website: