Since the 19th century, scientists from around the world have recognized that the Earth’s climate is changing . Though the scientific reason behind the “why” continues to be a topic of debate in the scientific, political, and social communities, there is a broad consensus that human activities are negatively impacting the world around us. NASA, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that represents scientific experts throughout the world, concluded that “there is more than a 95 percent probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed our planet” . These human activities include (but are not limited to) deforestation, land use changes, landfills, transportation, and the manufacturing of goods .
Born in 1973 on the side of a mountain while enjoying nature’s purity, Patagonia Inc fully embraces its roots in the wilderness and has truly become focused on sustainability and the future of Planet Earth. As a global business, founder Yvon Chouinard and CEO Rose Marcario have set Patagonia’s mission to be “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” . Built into their mission statement is the recognition of the fact that every product that is made in their factory, and sold in their store, contributes to a portion of the very pollution which is causing Climate Change. However, they also embrace the dire thought that their product is of no long-term value if the planet we live on is uninhabitable. As such, Patagonia began a series of activist campaigns focused on the environment such as “Vote Our Planet”  and the modernization of their supply chain, including “Supply Chain: The Footprint Chronicles” specifically focused on their company’s processes and ways to reduce their impact on Climate Change .
Patagonia has made the essential first step any company must make; they recognize that they are part of the problem . Taking the time to reflect and analyze their business model and the supply chain logistics, coupled with applying their mission, Patagonia has established several key categories to focus including “(1) reducing the environmental impact of our company and supply chain, (2) using our company voice to advocate for systemic change, and (3) envisioning a new approach to business” . To address the first category, Patagonia has established key performance indicators to reduce the impact on the environment caused by not only their supply chain, but also their company. A few of these key performance indicators and their metrics during the 2015 fiscal year include: measuring of the carbon footprint of their global operations (emissions totaling 3,617 metric tons of CO2e), generating renewable energy (203,502 kWh of on-site energy generated and 980,112 kWh of green power purchased), creation of green buildings (LEED Gold certification for their Reno Distribution Center), and the “Supply Chain Initiatives: Chemical and Environmental Impacts Program” (an industry best practices and standards program to manage chemical, environmental, waste, water use, and emission impacts caused by their supply chain) . Additionally, Patagonia is designated as a benefit corporation and has long donated 1% of its annual gross revenues to charities working on sustainability issues, totaling approximately $74 million to date . These are only a few of the initiatives Patagonia has taken to reduce its harmful impact and continued degradation of the global environment.
While taking so many necessary steps to improve the way that Patagonia operates, and to ensure that their business stays true to their mission, they must remain as a profitable business. However, as one can see by researching on the company, their definition of profitable does not come at the expense of our future. Patagonia could easily become the model for other environmentally conscious corporations to emulate, but only if Patagonia demonstrates that reducing their supply chain’s impact to the environment does not greatly diminish the bottom line. As long as Patagonia stays private, the mission of the company can remain and will not be pulled by a necessity to return profits to shareholders. But does this have to be the case? Can only private companies choose to focus on initiatives that ultimately have an impact (marginal or not) to their bottom line because they are not beholden to the shareholder? Will Wall Street and the public markets take a reduction in returns to provide companies the needed capital to implement technologies and processes to ensure that our planet doesn’t become uninhabitable?
One can only hope…
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 “Hisotry of climate change science,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_climate_change_science, accessed November 2017.
 “A blanket around the Earth”, NASA Global Climate Change Vital Signs of the Planet, https://climate.nasa.gov/causes/, accessed November 2017.
 “Patagonia’s Mission Statement,” http://www.patagonia.com/company-info.html, accessed November 2017.
 “Environmental Campaigns,” http://www.patagonia.com/environmental-campaigns.html, accessed November 2017.
 “Our Business and Climate Change,” http://www.patagonia.com/climate-change.html, accessed November 2017.
 Andrew Cave, “’Don’t Buy This Racket’: Patagonia To Give Away All Retail Revenues on Black Friday,” November 21, 2016, https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewcave/2016/11/21/dont-buy-this-racket-patagonia-to-give-away-all-retail-revenues-on-black-friday, accessed November 2017.