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Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard Has Set the Standard for Sustainable Business Practices

Just this year, the founder decided to stop adding additional logos to Patagonia’s products to make upcycling even easier, prioritizing sustainability above marketability.

Photo by Tim Davis, courtesy of Patagonia

Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, is widely acclaimed as an industry leader who is setting the standard for sustainable business practices. Patagonia’s inspirational philosophy, which guides them toward innovative sustainability, has become a trademark of the brand that generates consumer loyalty, awareness and motivation to protect the planet we all call home. Chouinard’s personal values are at the heart of this philosophy; he is the cofounder of 1% For The Planet, Textile Exchange, The Conservation Alliance and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and he does everything in his power to find new ways to generate industry change through Patagonia’s platform. 

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 “We’ve made a commitment to be fossil-fuel-free by 2025. We’re invested in companies that are working on growing synthetic fibers—stuff made from plants rather than petroleum. We’re not just cleaning up our act in our own buildings and stuff; we’re going around to our suppliers and convincing them to use cleaner energy,” Chouinard told Fast Company. The 83-year-old titan is under no illusion that sustainable business practices alone will solve climate change and rescue our planet, but he has still committed himself and his company to doing everything in their power to raise awareness and convince people to change their purchasing and manufacturing methods. One way that they are doing this is through their Worn Wear program. This is a program that encourages consumers to buy used gear rather than buying new and provides resources for them to trade-in their gear in exchange for points. These points can be redeemed and used to buy perfectly good used clothing or to buy something new. The company website encourages their customers to strongly consider this option by placing the Used Gear section in front of all other shopping sections on the homepage.

Earlier this year, Patagonia self-published the article “Beyond the Office, Out of the Landfill,” in which the company announced that they will no longer be adding additional logos to their products. They wrote: “Adding an additional nonremovable logo reduces the lifespan of a garment, often by a lot, for trivial reasons. People change jobs, and the extra logo makes for an awkward regift. People tend not to pass logo’d gear down to their kids, and not everyone wants to be an advertisement on weekends…The result? Perfectly good gear ends up forgotten in the closet—or worse, gets tossed in the trash.” This announcement is representative of Patagonia’s philosophy as a whole—that their commitment to sustainability outweighs all else.

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Patagonia is aware that an educated consumer is a more conscientious consumer, and this is shown through their campaign to educate customers. On their website, you will find a tab labeled “Stories.” There, you will see articles that dive into detail about the environmental crisis at hand, and what we can all do to help make our damaging impact that much smaller. Many people are intimidated by the seemingly impossible task of changing the way we, as a global society, operate. But, “the solution to depression is action, and I’ve got a clear idea what I need to do. A lot of people want to do something about global warming, but they don’t know where to start,” Chouinard tells Fast Company. It is leaders like Chouinard who are able to take on something so pervasive as climate change and make those around them feel as though they can take those small steps forward toward a brighter and more sustainable future. 

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