50 Years of Patagonia
Written exclusively for Raglan Surf Company by Lucy Galbraith
From humble beginnings, Patagonia’s dedication to environmentally conscious practices and punk-worthy activism has separated the adventure brand from anyone else in the market. It has also led them to become the benchmark of influence for big corp (and the rest of us) to do better. Much better.
You see, Patagonia aren’t just here to flex their steez. They actually give a shit. About the ocean, about the earth, the climate and their declining health. And they are doing what they can to change things.
Many in our community are familiar with Patagonia’s ethics and activism – that’s why so many choose to buy the brand. That’s also why we choose to stock it. And with every training and every new range we bring in, they enable us to learn more and more about the state of the earth and what can be done to save it.
We could write pages about why we’re stoked on Patagonia, but we know you’d rather be surfing so here’s a few things we’ve learnt that really hit a note with the crew.
- The clothing industry is responsible for a whopping 10% of the earth’s climate crisis with around 85% of clothing ending up in landfills or getting incinerated. Patagonia prioritises making quality products that last longer, reducing overall consumption. They also have a bunch of online resources for how to fix your much-loved Patagonia garments. Extending the life of clothing by an extra 9 months instead of buying new can reduce carbon, waste and water footprints by roughly 20–30% per garment. Well worth threading a needle for.
- 60% of the world’s clothing is made from Polyester. Polyester is a form of plastic made from crude oil. Patagonia’s Polyester is made from recycled bottles, or recycled Polyester.
- In fact, Patagonia strives for all products to be made from preferred materials. The teeth of the zipper on garments like Patagonia’s Better Sweater is the only part of the garment that isn’t recycled. On clothes that require ‘virgin’ cotton they only use organic, leading them to create more organic cotton farms, providing job opportunities for those in need.
- Discarded fishing nets make up an estimated 10% of plastic found in the ocean. Most of Patagonia’s hats feature a brim made of Bureo’s fully traceable NetPlusR material which is made completely from recycled fish nets. Since 2013, Bureo’s work has led to a saving of more than 600,000 kg of harmful waste from the ocean. They also offer incentives for locals to bring in old nets and waste from coastal communities in South America.
- The duck and goose down used in most puffer jackets is from untraceable sources. Often the down is plucked from birds that are still alive (which would be super uncomfortable for the birds). 100% of Patagonia’s down is responsibly sourced, meaning 78% of the down used in their jackets is recycled, the other 22% is fully traceable. This ensures the down is gathered from birds that are no longer alive and the rest of the bird is then used for food. Maybe not the beaks, but I’m sure they come in handy for something.
The Responsibili-tee’s aren’t just a fashion statement, they set the bar for sustainable and ethical clothing production. Each tee is made from 100% recycled materials, using 118 grams of scrap fabric and 4.8 discarded plastic bottles. Producing this tee uses 96% less water and creates 45% less CO2 than a conventional cotton t-shirt. Oh, and they’re Fair Trade Certified too.
Patagonia hasn’t just set the bar for sustainable clothing production, their wetsuits are widely recognised as being the ‘greenest’ wetsuit around. This is due to their own technology, Yulex, a natural rubber (as opposed to petroleum-based rubbers) with an FSC certification from the Rainforest Alliance. This has influenced other surf brands to really step up. Patagonia was even offering the Yulex technology for free to any brands who wanted to follow suit (‘scuse the pun) and scrap neoprene. Our other two best-selling wetsuit brands, O’Neill and Billabong, have both since released sustainable suits using Yulex and recycled materials. The O’Neill Blueprint and Billabong’s Furnace Natural are high performance suits that don’t sacrifice stretch, comfort, warmth – or the earth. Patagonia has for a long time been the only Fair Trade CertifiedTM wetsuit also. This is also a movement that other brands are beginning to follow.
- And perhaps one of the coolest things about Patagonia is they aren’t just here for fashion’s sake. They are part of a bigger movement for change. Patagonia supports a huge number of worthy causes from fighting against oil drilling, to suing the previous American president and even supporting Raglan’s own Karioi Project. You can find out about their activism and supported causes here.
- And last but certainly not least, the company no longer profits from their sales (unlike supermarket and bank CEO’s). It’s not unusual for Patagonia’s politically challenging pro-earth campaigns to hit the news. However last September they re-set the bar by announcing that the company would be ‘given away’ to a trust and non-profit organisation. Meaning that at the end of each year, the money made (after reinvesting in the business) will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the climate crisis.
If you’re interested in learning more about Patagonia’s crusade to help save the world, check out their website here.
If you’re more interested in just seeing Patagonia represented by one of the world’s biggest chargers and zen lords, click here.
And if you want to be really sustainable and ethical, support your local by buying their products through us online here or in person at 7 Wainui Road, Raglan.
Photo header credit.