Patagonia Frontrunning the CSR Game

Patagonia cares about the world. This seems like a big and broad statement to make about a company but Patagonia puts their money where their mouth is and they’re not shy or quiet about it. I want to talk about how Patagonia is doing CSR right.


When I was in high school, everyone was wearing Toms, those shoes that pledged that for every pair you bought, they’d donate a pair to a developing country. I think that was good enough for people to hop onto the bandwagon as it was a thing that they could feel good about. Since the shoes were basically flats and whereas the quality of the shoe wasn’t bad, it’s clear, just by looking at them, the shoes weren’t meant to last. But you feel good about buying another pair because they’ll give a pair to a developing country! And the cycle continues ad infintum.


I had this teacher in high school who made a comment about the shoes that stuck with me. He said something along the lines of, ‘How do we know they even want the shoes? What if there’s a shoemaker in that town that can no longer work?’ This feels very Teach-A-Man-To-Fish but it got me thinking. Did they even want these shoes that wouldn’t last? How much research did they do on the terrain and whether these shoes would even be suitable? Did the people even want the shoes? How much overall waste would this be creating? I remember hearing about how thrift stores would just send unwanted clothing/electronics to Africa and no one there needed them and it was just a redistribution of waste in the end.


So what does Patagonia do differently? They literally tell people not to buy their products. And that increases their sales. This backwards logic is defended with the idea that people should only buy what they need to prevent potential waste. Along with this, they’ll buy back and resell your clothes after they repair it. they make sure their factories are living up to human rights standards. They’re very vocal about their actions. And my personal favorite, they’ll go so far as to sue the president for destroying national monuments.


The best part about this, for me, is that they have a CEO that actually cares about these things, instead of a mandated appointed committee that does the bare minimum to qualify for a CSR nod. So, Patagonia is doing what they can and the world is better for it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *