In an effort to build the best product and cause no unnecessary harm, we carefully consider our use of textiles, treatments and processes. Here you’ll find our thoughts and practices on everything from paper use to compostability.
Using Environmentally-Conscious Fibers
We work hard to source materials and use processes that are less harmful to the Earth without compromising quality. Because to us, quality is not only how well a product performs and holds up, but also how it’s made. We realize that our efforts are far from perfect, but we’re trying, and making headway. We currently use the following e-fibers – environmentally-conscious fibers – in a number of our products. They include recycled polyester, organic cotton, hemp, chlorine-free wool, recycled nylon and TENCEL® lyocell.
By using recycled polyester to make clothing, we reduce our dependence on oil, curb landfill discards, cause less air, water and soil contamination, and promote a new recycling stream for polyester products.
When we scrutinized fabric fibers to determine their environmental impacts, we figured cotton was “pure” and “natural,” made from a plant. We were right about the plant.
One of the ways we can lessen the impact of wool production is to recycle used wool.
Like polyester, virgin nylon fiber is made from crude oil. The recycled nylon we use comes from post-industrial waste fiber and processed into reusable nylon yarn.
TENCEL® is a branded lyocell fiber that comes from the pulp of eucalyptus trees. The benefits include a sustainable origin of wood pulp and the use of non-toxic chemicals and solvents in the fiber processing.
Environmental Assessments of Materials
At Patagonia, we are constantly evaluating new materials and re-evaluating existing ones in our quest to make the best product. Environmental assessment is a key component of our strategy and drives which materials we should celebrate, which ones we should use with caution, and which materials we should avoid altogether. Below are some of the more interesting results from our research:
Bamboo Becomes Rayon
Bamboo is a fast-growing plant that requires no synthetic additives to cultivate. But when bamboo is processed into rayon fiber for clothing and other products, the need for a toxic chemical solvent negates any claim that bamboo fiber is sustainably produced.
“Biodegradable” and “compostable” claims are appearing on many consumer products – from detergents and flowerpots to plastic bags and even textiles. But because of the way we dispose of solid waste, these products are never given the chance to break down or decompose.
Neoprene from Limestone
Wetsuit rubber made from limestone isn’t any more environmentally friendly than wetsuit rubber made from petroleum. Both materials have some pretty serious environmental consequences, though limestone spills are a lot easier to clean up.
PFOA and Fluorochemicals
The fluorochemicals used in most water-repellent finishes and waterproof membranes don’t break down in the environment and may pose a threat to public health and safety. Working with our partners, we have found some alternatives and are searching for others.
PLA Made from Corn
Making plastics and synthetic fibers out of renewable resources instead of petroleum is a fantastic idea. But most polylactic acid that’s used to make fiber is derived from genetically modified corn. Genetic modification of plants threatens biodiversity, may pose risks to health and safety, and gives corporations way too much control over our agricultural system.
PVC Printing Inks and Phthalates
PVC and phthalates are commonly found in inks used for screen-printing T-shirts, posing a potential health and safety concern. We use inks that are PVC- and phthalate-free.
100% Traceable Down Insulation
We want to give our customers the highest assurance possible that the geese that supply us with down are treated humanely. To that end, over the last several years, we have been working to develop both short-term and long-term alternatives to the use of down from live-plucked or force-fed birds. Here is a timeline of our examination of the Patagonia down supply chain.
Forest Fibers Policy
Some textiles are made from trees, a renewable resource. But ancient and endangered forests around the world are being exploited to produce textile fibers. We are committed to using only cellulosic fibers derived from trees grown on sustainably run plantations or responsibly managed forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Social and Environmental Responsibility
The library contents listed below provide helpful information on how we monitor, improve and measure social and environmental performance in our supply chain.
Patagonia Factory list
In the interest of greater transparency, here you’ll find a list of our finished goods factories.
Factory Scoring System
SER staff scores factories on performance to help Patagonia and our suppliers see where they are on the corporate responsibility journey - from implementing basic practices to demonstrating leadership. The internal scoring system is based on existing Fair Labor Association and Sustainable Apparel Coalition tools.
Patagonia’s Workplace Code of Conduct
Hours, wages, workers’ rights: Read how we expect our suppliers to treat their employees and the communities in which they live and do business.
Patagonia’s Social Responsibility Benchmarks
Find out here how Patagonia measures compliance with each of our Code of Conduct standards.
Where We Make Our Products and Why
We consider a slew of factors when deciding where to make our products. Quality, price, proximity, labor practices, craftsmanship and factory capacity are among them. Product sourcing is a complicated topic. In this document we provide our views.
Green Business Practices and Paper Policy
We are faced with every day decisions on how best to make environmental choices. Here are some thoughts we have collected over the years covering many different topics.
Green Business Practices
We’re often asked by other businesses what they can do to make their practices more environmentally friendly. The frequency of this question inspired us to create a document that offers tips and resources.
Acutely aware of how irresponsible forestry practices are systematically destroying the Earth’s biodiversity, Patagonia’s paper use and procurement standards are some of the highest in the catalog industry.
Patagonia's Water Footprint
Patagonia’s Our Common Waters campaign focused on the freshwater crisis facing the earth. Water stress and contamination strike directly home for Patagonia as a company.
Packaging and Merchandising Policy
Patagonia is committed to sourcing responsible materials in all aspects of our business. Patagonia’s Packaging and Merchandising Policy and Implementation Guidelines were created to ensure that our environmental purchasing practices are consistent across all business operations.