We Took to the Streets: Environmental + Social Initiatives 2017

CEO, Rose Marcario, CEO  /  4 Min Read  /  Activism

Tens of thousands protest the Trump administration’s assault on the environment at the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. Photo: Astrid Riecken

This was a big year for activism. And we showed up in a big way.

We took to the streets in record numbers. We got the word out with our signs and posts and videos. We flooded the inboxes and voicemails of elected officials at all levels of government. We petitioned, boycotted and divested. We doubled down on our commitment to the protection of wild places and climate action.

Myriad individuals, corporations, countries, cities and other entities are feeling this same sense of urgency and obligation to activism. Yet our planet continues to suffer, facing renewed threats to our most treasured wild places and the continued deterioration of the clean air, water and soil required by all people and creatures. For issues like climate change, the stakes couldn’t be higher—not only in terms of the looming impacts, which we increasingly see on a daily basis, but because we recognize that we aren’t doing enough to keep them at bay.

So what does this tell us about the state of activism today?

As our friend Brock Evans is fond of saying, “Endless pressure, endlessly applied.”

We must keep fighting—whether we’re putting points on the board, or playing defense—against the endless forces willing to trade the long-term health of our planet for short-term profit. We must counter and overpower those forces with sustained, energetic and strategic activism.

Willie Grayeyes, board chairman of Utah Diné Bikéyah, speaks of the magic of Bears Ears at a multimedia presentation in our Salt Lake City store. Photo: Andrew Burr

Willie Grayeyes, board chairman of Utah Diné Bikéyah, speaks of the magic of Bears Ears at a multimedia presentation in our Salt Lake City store. Photo: Andrew Burr

The battle to protect America’s public lands shows the power of unrelenting activism. At the very end of last year, we celebrated the designation of Bears Ears National Monument—an exceptional landscape with immense cultural significance. This victory came as a result of years of grassroots and tribal advocacy in southeastern Utah, which Patagonia has long supported with environmental grants, and the voices of countless individuals who spoke out in favor of protecting public lands.

But as cynical politicians and their industry friends launched an unprecedented attack on our most treasured public lands, including Bears Ears and other national monuments, millions of Americans mobilized to say, “No.” Patagonia and other outdoor companies helped rally those voices. And we used the growing power of our industry (America’s fourth-largest) to send the same strong message to Utah’s elected leaders, who oppose protections for public lands, by yanking our $50 million biannual trade show out of Salt Lake City.

At a time when our political system has failed to deliver for our planet, it’s up to businesses like ours to create positive change. Building on Patagonia’s corporate mandate to use business to solve the environmental crisis, this year we used our business as a force for good in ways we never have before and scaled important programs like Fair Trade and Worn Wear to create bigger impact.

The Worn Wear crew repairing clothing and gear in exchange for high fives at the University of Georgia. Photo: Kern Ducote

The Worn Wear crew repairing clothing and gear in exchange for high fives at the University of Georgia. Photo: Kern Ducote

We want to inspire our nonprofit partners to keep up the fight. We want to inspire other companies to take a stand on climate commitments and see activism as a necessity to corporate health. We want to inspire our customers to reduce their footprint by buying only what they need and keeping things in play longer. We want to inspire policymakers to make decisions based on the long-term health of their societies, not on the short-term gain of private entities. We want to inspire ourselves to speak more boldly and to invest in programs that reduce our own footprint.

To us, the choice is clear: Our planet depends on activism, and this moment demands it. We hope you enjoy this compilation of our efforts in this year’s Environmental & Social Initiatives booklet.

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