We all know that looking at someone’s Instagram is basically like staring into their soul.
OK, not really. But for outdoor apparel brand Patagonia, that’s not far from the truth. A quick glance at the company’s Instagram page, and you’ll see the esteemed blue check mark, an iconic logo and an Instagram bio that reads, “We’re in business to save our home planet.” And it’s not kidding.
Why would a clothing brand think its actions will make any difference on the environment? After all, clothing production is a significant source of pollution. According to a study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in 2015, “greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from textiles production totalled 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent, more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping combined.” With that in mind, it actually makes a lot of sense for a clothing brand to consider its impact on the environment.
Going beyond its Instagram page and onto Patagonia’s website offers even more insight about its planet-saving quest. The company’s “Supplier Workplace Code of Conduct” applies to all companies and factories that the company sources from or works with. It encompasses a variety of subcategories, including topics related to forced labor, discrimination and environment, plus 15 others.
Under the environment category, the document specifies that all factories “shall continuously monitor, and disclose to Patagonia, their energy and natural resource usage, emissions, discharges, carbon footprint and disposal of wastes and take a progressive approach to minimize negative impacts on the environment.” According to the document, companies must also allow Patagonia to engage in external monitoring to determine each company’s commitment to environmental responsibility.
Patagonia expands on these rules with its “Benchmark Document,” which requires all facilities that Patagonia sources from to adopt a plan to reduce emission of wastewater, air and ozone-depleting substances (think carbon dioxide and methane). Furthermore, facilities must have a comprehensive recycling program, and each facility must show that it is truly attempting to improve its environmental management.
Sure, we can use reusable water bottles and turn off the lights when we’re not using them. Actions speak louder than words, after all. But do you know what else is pretty loud? Money. Patagonia is setting an example that we should all follow — it won’t support companies that don’t care about the environment, and we shouldn’t support them, either.
Asking where our clothing comes from is a powerful step forward, but why stop there? Thanks to companies like Patagonia, we can take pride in asking tough questions. Where do our school supplies come from? Where does our bedding come from? Where does our furniture come from? What are manufacturers doing to make a difference?
For that, I say thank you, Patagonia.