Outdoor retailer Patagonia will be shutting down its four New York City stores this Sunday to encourage employees to participate in the People’s Climate March ahead of the United Nations’ climate summit next week, the company announced today.
Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario, the company’s first female chief executive in two decades, wrote a blog post explaining the company’s position. Here’s an excerpt:
It is the work of this generation to make clear we reject the status quo–a race toward the destruction of our planet and the wild places we play in and love. We cannot sit idly by while large special interests destroy the planet for profit without regard for our children and grandchildren.
We have to keep the pressure on. That means being loud and visible in the streets, in town halls and our capitals, and most important, in our elections–voting for candidates who understand we are facing a climate crisis. It means protecting local surf breaks, rivers, grasslands, mountains–and supporting sustainable agriculture. We have to take personal responsibility, and that means consuming less and leading simpler, more examined lives.
It might sound strange that a company that’s tripled its profits since 2008 by selling a host of products manufactured outside the United States is advocating for less consumption in the face of man-made warming. But Patagonia has a history of putting its money where its mouth is. Patagonia is a private company, which possibly means that it has more freedom to consider its social impact over naked profit, but it’s also one of the 1,110 registered Benefit Corporations (or “B Corps”) in the world. By getting certified as a B Corp in 2012, Patagonia has pledged to expand its delivery and consideration of social and environmental goods, and it’s been donating 1% of its profits to environmental groups since 1985.
In recent years, Patagonia has taken a particularly active role in challenging assumptions about what a company is capable of in terms of environmental commitments. Last year, the company launched a campaign running up to Black Friday, the official start of frenzied Christmas season shopping, that asked its customers to repair old clothing instead of going out and buying new threads. In 2012, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard also launched a line of sustainable food products, specializing in salmon.
“All of us at Patagonia–and especially our colleagues in New York City–felt we could not conduct business as usual on the day of the march,” Marcario continues in her post. “We knew we needed to take our place, help make a stand for future generations and inspire other businesses to do the same.”
Rejecting the business-as-usual paradigm by closing stores (until 3 p.m. at least) is a powerful statement. Patagonia is also turning its Upper West Side location into a Climate March refueling station of sorts, replete with free coffee and bagels. Read the rest of Marcario’s post here.