The Patagonia Low Down
Recently the Surf Co team caught up with Patagonia’s Nick “Swinno” Swinnerton for an evening training session. Although the majority of staff initially only attended for the free pizza and Workshop beer, every one of us left feeling proud to be an agent for such an incredible brand.
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 its declining health... And they are doing what they can to change things.
A lot of our customers are familiar with Patagonia’s ethics and activism - that’s why they choose to buy the brand. That’s also why we choose to stock it, but with every training and every new range, we seem to learn more and more about the state of the earth and what can be done to save it. We could write pages of why we’re stoked on Patagonia but unfortunately we don’t have the beer and pizza to keep your attention.
So, here’s a few things we learnt that really hit a note with the crew.
- The clothing industry is responsible for a whopping 10% of the earth’s climate crisis.
- 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.
- 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 saving over 600,000 kg of harmful waste from the ocean. That’s a lot. They also offer incentives for locals to bring in old nets and waste from coastal communities in South America.
- Most duck and goose down used in puffer jackets is from untraceable sources. Often the down is plucked from birds that are still alive (which would be terribly uncomfortable for the birds to say the least). 78% of Patagonia’s 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. The rest of the bird is then processed into food.
- The teeth of the zipper on Patagonia’s Better Sweater is the only part of the garment that isn’t made from recycled materials.
- The Responsibili-tee’s aren’t just a fashion statement - they set the bar for sustainable and ethical clothing production. Each tee is 100% recycled materials - made with 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 known for being the “greenest” wetsuit around. Their suits use 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. Our other two best-selling wetsuit brands, O’Neill and Billabong, have both 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. For a long time, Patagonia has been the only Fair Trade CertifiedTM wetsuit. 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 clothings-sake. They are part of a movement for change. Patagonia supports a huge number of worthy causes - from fighting against oil drilling, to suing the previous American president - even supporting Raglan’s own Karioi Project. You can find out about their activism and supported causes here.
Main photo: Bureo co-founders Ben Kneppers (left) and Kevin Ahearn (right) display the amount of fishing net that’s recycled into each Bureo skateboard through Net Positiva, Bureo’s fishing net collection and recycling program. Santiago, Chile. Photo: Kevin Ahearn