We’ve spent the past several days looking deep into our wool supply chain, shocked by the disturbing footage of animal cruelty that came to light last week. Patagonia’s partnership with Ovis 21 has been a source of pride because of the program’s genuine commitment to regenerating the grassland ecosystem, but this work must come equally with respectful and humane treatment of the animals that contribute to this endeavor.
The most shocking portion of PETA’s video shows the killing of animals for human consumption. Like those in the Ovis 21 network, most commercial-scale ranches that produce wool from sheep also produce meat. What’s most important is that we apply strong and consistent measures to ensure animals on ranches that supply wool for products bearing the Patagonia name are treated humanely, whether during shearing or slaughter. We took some important steps to protect animals in partnering with Ovis 21, but we failed to implement a comprehensive process to assure animal welfare, and we are dismayed to witness such horrifying mistreatment.
In light of this, we’ve made a frank and open-eyed assessment of the Ovis program. Our conclusion: it is impossible to ensure immediate changes to objectionable practices on Ovis 21 ranches, and we have therefore made the decision that we will no longer buy wool from them. This is a difficult decision, but it’s the right thing to do.
Re-building our wool program—with a partner that can ensure a strong and consistent approach to animal welfare, while also fostering healthy grasslands—will be a significant challenge. However, we reject the notion that cruelty is essential to wool production, despite what PETA claims. Patagonia will continue to make products from wool because of its unique performance attributes. We will continue to sell products made from the wool we’ve already purchased. And we will continue to offer excellent synthetic alternatives for those who prefer them, while constantly pushing to innovate and invest in new materials and better supply chains. But Patagonia will not buy wool again until we can assure our customers of a verifiable process that ensures the humane treatment of animals.
We will also continue our efforts, initiated in 2014, to lead in the industry’s development of strong, new verifiable standards for wool production we can all be proud of. We will take this as an opportunity to push even harder for the strongest possible animal welfare standards to be integrated into the forthcoming Responsible Wool Standard.
We apologize for the harm done in our name. We will continue to update you on our progress to do better.