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The Patagonia Update No One Asked For
Remember last September when the founder of the clothing brand Patagonia shocked the world by giving away his company to save the planet? Of course you do, because even people who have never set foot in a forest or rejected a plastic fork because they have their own bamboo cutlery heard about that.
Yvon Chouinard’s big announcement was the first of its kind, and the entire internet dubbed him the best billionaire ever.
But of course since something like that had never happened before, everyone wanted to know…would it work? Was it really the planet-saving move the company made it out to be? Can we save the world one fleece vest at a time?
The full results of Patagonia’s master plan to save the world are still TBD; however, one recent report shows that they aren’t exactly going in the right direction. A Follow the Money report discovered that Patagonia produces some of their clothing in the same factory that several other fast fashion brands use.
The factory in Sri Lanka is known for exploiting their garment workers, and the factory manager said he sees no difference between practices used for Patagonia and practices used for fast fashion brands like Primark.
Currently, only 40% of Patagonia’s workers earn a living wage, which the company has promised will be at 100% by 2025.
So what’s a hopeful consumer supposed to think when one of the few sustainable brands gets called out like this? The main thing is to acknowledge that Patagonia is still doing it better than MOST brands, AND they also have a ways to go.
It’s sort of a “have your cake and eat it too” situation, except the “cake” is demanding fair wages and the “too” is a fleece vest.