After reading Heath’s reply to my original post on Patagonia Politics, I thought it might be interesting to bring someone from the company into the conversation. Eve Bould, Patagonia’s director of communications and public relations, stepped up to the plate with some interesting background on the California company that most people probably don’t know.
Click below to read her reply on Patagonia’s political philosophy (“We’re not endorsing any candidates in the 2004 presidential election…”), the company’s history and profile (“Most people think of us as simply an outdoor gear and apparel company…”) and what’s with all those Al Franken books…
From Eve Bould, director of communications and public relations for Patagonia:
Patagonia’s statement of purpose — “To use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” – is unusual. Most people think of us as simply an outdoor gear and apparel company, but we see our mission as much larger. Since 1985 we have given over $19 million to grassroots environmental organizations. We also support grassroots groups through in-kind donations and even “loaner” employees. Through our environmental internship program, employees can take up to 8 weeks of paid leave to work for an environmental non-profit. We recognize that as a clothing company, everything we make pollutes, and we strive to find ways to minimize our negative impact. On the product side, this has meant using 100% organic cotton in our cotton apparel since 1996 and pioneering the use of PCR (post-consumer recycled) Synchilla fleece, which is made from recycled soda bottles. In our operations, we have worked to incorporate sustainable building technologies and reclaimed or recycled materials in all of our facilities. We also use our voice to call attention to issues that are important to us. For example, this year we devoted space in our catalog, web site, and retail stores to highlight the plight of wild salmon.
While some people might question why we take such a strong position on environmental issues, we believe we have no choice. Our founder, Yvon Chouinard, frequently quotes the famed conservationist David Brower, who said, “There is no business to be done on a dead planet.” Yvon did not set out to become a businessman. He was a climber who started making pitons for himself and his friends, and the business grew organically as more and more people wanted to buy his products. Despite his reservations about the nature of capitalism, Yvon decided to stay in business in order to affect change. In order for Patagonia to serve as a viable example for other businesses to emulate, financial success is essential. But financial success is a means to an end, rather than the ultimate goal.
Patagonia tends to attract employees who are deeply committed to the company’s environmental mission. This doesn’t mean that we are all carbon copies of Yvon Chouinard. It doesn’t mean we all belong to the same political party. One of our core values — “Not Bound By Convention” — involves embracing new ways of thinking and questioning “conventional wisdom.” It would be out of alignment with our brand and our culture to impose our views on anyone — employees, customers, or the general public. Instead, we want to spark discussion and debate on issues that matter to us. We welcome informed opinions from all sides and hope we can all benefit from a healthy dialogue.
Recently we began selling a selection of political books in our retail stores. We are not endorsing any candidates in the 2004 presidential election, but we are encouraging our customers and our employees to educate themselves on the issues, investigate the candidates and vote for the environment. In our view, conservation of our nation’s wild places is of interest to all Americans, regardless of ideology. We at Patagonia are particularly passionate on this subject. Not only are we outdoor sports enthusiasts – we’re also investors in the future of the planet. We don’t want to see our investment go to waste. We hope these books will encourage debate and discussion among our customers, employees, and whoever cares to join us.