In 2015, Patagonia increased its number of Fair Trade products from 33 to 192, made in India, Sri Lanka and Los Angeles, California. The company is now looking to enrol other factories in the Fair Trade program in Thailand, Vietnam, Colombia and Mexico. After discovering human trafficking in their own supply chain in Taiwan in 2012, they developed a ‘Migrant Worker Standard’ which they now apply to their whole supply chain.
It received Ethical Consumer’s best rating for supply chain management and cotton sourcing, as well as scoring well across the board in the ‘Ethical Fashion Report’, which Baptist World Aid Australia published in 2017. Unfortunately, as of 2016 Patagonia had not signed either the The Accord on Fire & Building Safety in Bangladesh or The Alliance for Bangaldesh Worker Safety, two accords designed to protect workers’ rights after the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013.
Unfortunately, Patagonia’s approach to environmental reporting was not as strong. The company demonstrated good understanding of its environmental impacts and was a member of several environmental action groups. It had been using all organic cotton since 1996, used a proportion of recycled nylon, polyester and wool, and ran a repair service. The company also donated 1% of its sales as environmental grants. However, it had set no future targets for continued improvement, and as such received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for environmental reporting.
Patagonia has strengthened its approach to animal rights considerable since 2015, when PETA exposed animal rights abuses at its supplier’s wool farm. Patagonia responded to evidence that animals were being mutilated and skinned alive by immediately dropping its supplier. As of 2016, the company had stopped using wool altogether “until we can assure our customers of a verifiable process that ensures the humane treatment of animals.”
The company also only used 100% traceable down, meaning that it could be traced back to birds that were never force-fed and never live-plucked. However, it did continue to use feather down in products.
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.