Is Patagonia ethical?
Our research found few negative ethical issues with Patagonia. The company has therefore done well in our rating system in a number of categories, including climate change, pollutions and toxics, human rights, supply chain management, animal rights, social finance, and political activities.
Below we outline of some of these issues. To see the full detailed stories, and Patagonia's overall ethical rating, please sign in or subscribe.
In April 2019, Baptist World Aid Australia published ‘The 2019 Ethical Fashion Report- The Truth Behind The Barcode’, which examined labour rights and environmental management systems in the fashion industry. It graded 130 companies from A+ to F, on the strength of their systems to mitigate against the risks of forced labour, child labour, and exploitation in their supply chains.
Patagonia was one of the companies audited. It got marked A overall.
The scores it received under each header were:
1. Policies: A+
2. Traceability and Transparency: A+
3. Auditing & Supplier Relationships: A
4. Worker Empowerment: B
5. Environmental Management: A+
In 2019 Patagonia also received Ethical Consumer’s best rating for supply chain management and got a middle rating for its cotton sourcing.
In August 2019 a BBC News story that announced a $10 million (£7.83 million) donation from Patagonia to help combat climate change. This was how much Patagonia saved in 2017 after Donald Trump cut US corporation tax from 35% to 21%. Furthermore, Patagonia has long supported climate activism, even going so far as to close all of its shops and offices for the Global Climate Strike in 2019.
When we looked in July 2019 we saw that some of Patagonia's products contained down. However, upon investigation, company statements outlined that they only used 100% traceable down, 'meaning that it could be traced back to birds that were never force-fed and never live-plucked'. Although we considered this a positive policy in the address of animal rights, we still deducted half a mark under this category.
In 2016, Patagonia gave $1,164 to US left-wing political candidate, Bernie Saunders. No other evidence of political activities – such as lobbying, tax avoidance or use of controversial technologies – was found.