Activists hold up protest signs at the climate strike in Berlin, Germany. More than 1.4 million people are estimated to have participated in climate strikes in Germany. Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia
Activists hold up protest signs at the climate strike in Berlin, Germany. More than 1.4 million people are estimated to have participated in climate strikes in Germany. Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia

Now What?

By Ryan Gellert   |   Oct 8, 2019 October 8, 2019

As we look back on a week of climate actions that mobilized more than 7 million people around the world, those of us who took part are asking ourselves: What next?

I ask that question of myself, as a concerned citizen, as a father and as a business leader in my role at Patagonia.

Between September 20 and 28, the Patagonia team took part in the week-long Global Climate Strike, creating and hoisting our banners in 38 European cities. As a business, we felt it was important to close all our stores around the world, in order to support our employees in striking. And, as parents and fellow humans, we were deeply moved by the actions of the youth climate activists around the world. We know that unless we make profound changes to save our home planet, we may well end up on the endangered species list ourselves.

Jamie Margolin, 17, at the New York City climate strike on September 20. Jamie is the founder of the organization Zero Hour, which organized the first youth climate march on Washington in 2018. Photo: Keri Oberly
Jamie Margolin, 17, at the New York City climate strike on September 20. Jamie is the founder of the organization Zero Hour, which organized the first youth climate march on Washington in 2018. Photo: Keri Oberly

We stood shoulder to shoulder with the four million people of all backgrounds and ages, across Europe, to show solidarity and to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels and climate justice for everyone. We return to our day-to-day lives galvanized and ready for the fight. Those of us with shared values within the business community are certain that the days of business as usual are over. But what does this new era for business look like? And how can we use our role—not just during historic moments, but every day—to replace the current system with one that prioritizes the natural world on which all life depends?

The first step is to ensure our own house is in order. At Patagonia, this means taking a hard look at the products we make, our operations, supply chain and ourselves, and taking steps to reduce our waste and our carbon and chemical footprint.

Young activists gathered on the steps of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., on September 20 for the Global Climate Strike. An estimated 8,000 – 15,000 people  joined the demonstrations in the city that day. Photo: Jeremiah Watt
Young activists gathered on the steps of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., on September 20 for the Global Climate Strike. An estimated 8,000 – 15,000 people joined the demonstrations in the city that day. Photo: Jeremiah Watt

To help us do our part to address the climate crisis, we commit to eliminating or mitigating all of our carbon emissions by 2025, across our entire business, down to the mill and farm level within our supply chain (read more about this here). This ambitious target will only be achieved through a four-step process: measuring our impact, reducing our impact, converting to 100 percent renewable energy (as we already have at all of our own locations) and capturing carbon—the difference between stopping the mess and cleaning it up.

Looking outside of our own impact, we commit to doubling down on the issues we stand for as a business. Here in Europe, this means the protection and preservation of wild places, and playing an active role in the transition to more renewable energy sources by supporting decentralized energy communities. And it means advocating for the regenerative agricultural practices that Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard has described as “The number one thing humans can do to combat global warming.”

The climate strike on September 20 saw the largest group in the US in New York City, where organizers estimate around 250,000 joined the youth-led strike. Photo: Keri Oberly
The climate strike on September 20 saw the largest group in the US in New York City, where organizers estimate around 250,000 joined the youth-led strike. Photo: Keri Oberly

As individuals, businesspeople and community members, we all have a level of influence and the opportunity to spark debates and bring others to the fight. We must focus our energies on using that influence effectively, for example, in the case of businesses, through B Corp membership, or for individuals and businesses, signing up for a financial-giving commitment to 1% for the Planet®.

Our governments are not up to the task of solving the climate and ecological crisis. By taking to the streets, our employees and customers have shown that they are ready to take action and they are expecting the business community to do the same—and to show a new style of leadership; one that focuses on bringing about positive environmental change.

At Patagonia, we know we must also create more opportunities for our customer community to take action on the issues they care about. One method of supporting people in this way is through the platform. This is a digital tool that connects concerned citizens with local and international NGOs fighting for the causes they are passionate about.

Young activists leading the group in London, UK, during the September 20 strike. Around 100,000 people joined the strike in London and organizers estimate the total crowd across the entire United Kingdom was around 350,000 people. Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia
Young activists leading the group in London, UK, during the September 20 strike. Around 100,000 people joined the strike in London and organizers estimate the total crowd across the entire United Kingdom was around 350,000 people. Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia

Giving away one percent of sales to grassroots environmental groups, via 1% for the Planet, has allowed us to build a global network of NGOs, including around 160 in Europe. Often these are small groups in need of a larger voice and the skills and support that many of our audience possess. Patagonia Action Works allows these groups to amplify their impact, to fight for solutions to the environmental crisis at a much faster pace and at scale.

And we have another momentous moment upon us. The Global Climate Strike week is over, but as I write this, Extinction Rebellion is  bringing nonviolent, disruptive civil disobedience—a rebellion—to 60 major cities worldwide. As Extinction Rebellion has made clear to many of us: The time for denial is over. It is time to act.

Whatever activism means to us, however we are able to participate, we must continue to use whatever influence we have available. Today and every day, before it’s too late.

The crowd at the climate strike in Seoul, South Korea. Climate strikes were held in 185 countries and, according to organizers, had the support of 73 trade unions, 820 civil society organizations, 3,000 companies and 8,500 websites. Photo: Kim Chunho
The crowd at the climate strike in Seoul, South Korea. Climate strikes were held in 185 countries and, according to organizers, had the support of 73 trade unions, 820 civil society organizations, 3,000 companies and 8,500 websites. Photo: Kim Chunho
The crowd at one of the climate strikes in the Netherlands, where more than 40,000 people joined. The day of climate strikes kicked off in New Zealand, where organizers estimate 170,000 (3.5 percent of its population) took to the streets. Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia
The crowd at one of the climate strikes in the Netherlands, where more than 40,000 people joined. The day of climate strikes kicked off in New Zealand, where organizers estimate 170,000 (3.5 percent of its population) took to the streets. Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia
A close-up of an activist’s outfit and her accessories , as seen on Jamie Margolin during the September 20 strike in New York City. Photo: Keri Oberly
A close-up of an activist’s outfit and her accessories , as seen on Jamie Margolin during the September 20 strike in New York City. Photo: Keri Oberly
Young protesters in Ventura, California. Local climate strike organizers are demanding the city council declare a climate emergency in Ventura County. Photo: Colin McCarthy
Young protesters in Ventura, California. Local climate strike organizers are demanding the city council declare a climate emergency in Ventura County. Photo: Colin McCarthy
Ayisha Siddiqa, lead organizer for the New York City climate strike, leads the group in a chant during the strike on September 20. “We are not here for attention and we don’t want anybody’s vote. What we want is legitimate change,” she says. Photo: Keri Oberly
Ayisha Siddiqa, lead organizer for the New York City climate strike, leads the group in a chant during the strike on September 20. “We are not here for attention and we don’t want anybody’s vote. What we want is legitimate change,” she says. Photo: Keri Oberly
Azalea Danes, 17 ,  wrote press releases and scheduled media interviews to promote the September 20 climate strike in New York City. She started organizing in March when she decided to join her local Fridays for Future group. Photo: Keri Oberly
Azalea Danes, 17 , wrote press releases and scheduled media interviews to promote the September 20 climate strike in New York City. She started organizing in March when she decided to join her local Fridays for Future group. Photo: Keri Oberly
A young activist holds up a sign during the September 20 climate strike in Salt Lake City, Utah, where more than 500 people joined the event. Photo: Andrew Burr
A young activist holds up a sign during the September 20 climate strike in Salt Lake City, Utah, where more than 500 people joined the event. Photo: Andrew Burr
A young activist joins a Patagonia store event during the September 20 strike in Denver, Colorado. An estimated 7,500 people took to the streets in Denver during the climate strike. Photo: Aaron Ontiveroz
A young activist joins a Patagonia store event during the September 20 strike in Denver, Colorado. An estimated 7,500 people took to the streets in Denver during the climate strike. Photo: Aaron Ontiveroz
Protesters at the Salt Lake City climate strike on September 20. Photo: Andrew Burr
Protesters at the Salt Lake City climate strike on September 20. Photo: Andrew Burr
Protesters at the Salt Lake City climate strike on September 20. Photo: Andrew Burr
Protesters at the Salt Lake City climate strike on September 20. Photo: Andrew Burr
A young activist  at the Seattle climate strike, where an estimated 10,000 people demonstrated on September 20. Photo: Austin Siadak
A young activist at the Seattle climate strike, where an estimated 10,000 people demonstrated on September 20. Photo: Austin Siadak
Young activist Avery and her mother Elizabeth at the climate strike in New York City on September 20. Photo: Keri Oberly
Young activist Avery and her mother Elizabeth at the climate strike in New York City on September 20. Photo: Keri Oberly
Getting a good laugh while fighting for the future of our planet. These very young activists were getting ready to strike in Denver on September 20. Photo: Aaron Ontiveroz
Getting a good laugh while fighting for the future of our planet. These very young activists were getting ready to strike in Denver on September 20. Photo: Aaron Ontiveroz
The crowd at the climate strike in Ventura, California, on September 20. Photo: Colin McCarthy
The crowd at the climate strike in Ventura, California, on September 20. Photo: Colin McCarthy
 Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia
Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia
 Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia
Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia
 Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia
Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia
 Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia
Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia
 Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia
Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia