Written By: Dianne Forbes Compton
Patagonia, a California-based company that started back in 1974, holds core values built around what the company refers to as “silent sports.” Silent sports are ones that do not require an engine, where there are often no waiting crowds to cheer the sportsmen on. In their list they include such sports as mountain climbing, skiing, hiking, fishing and surfing. They realize that no matter how little harm they wish to contribute to the world, that some components of making their products (like dyes) will cause harm, so they look for the best and easiest ways to cause the least harm. In the words of its founder, Yvon Chouinard, the last line of Patagonia’s mission statement is: “…use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” (1).
Their website is full of wonderful stories of the adventures of their “ambassadors” who are sportsmen and women who have contributed to what makes Patagonia the company it is. In honor of upcoming Earth Day, they are a brand that many greatly admire. They demonstrate in their product lines, in the sports they encourage and with the work and marketing that they perform that the essence of the human spirit at work with the earth in creating eco-friendly clothing and products that display what Earth Day truly stands for.
One product that really stands out in their brand is their down coats. In the autumn of 2014, they established their credo of 100 percent traceable down, which means that any item they create with down holds a standard that no animal has been force-fed or live-plucked, making this one of the highest standards in the down industry for animal welfare (2).
Many down coats come from birds that are plucked up to four times a year while alive, a painful process that often kills them. When Patagonia realized that some of its down was coming from such places, it set out to change this and establish an environmentally friendly standard. Another thing they learned was that some of their down came from birds being force fed to produce foice gras (3). It has taken a few years, but they have made sure these practices are not being followed on any of their down.
Although this raises the price tag, when it comes to knowing that what one is wearing while skiing, hiking, skating, or other cold-weather sports, one will also know it is an environmentally-friendly product.
Patagonia offers a wide range of down products, most especially in their coats. Priced from $99 and up, they also offer great sale prices during off-season. Another addition to their eco-friendly world are repair shops that will repair clothing rather than throwing it away (4). They have sizes and designs to fit men, women, kids and even babies. From a pullover ski jacket to longer trench coats, one can find a stylish addition to the wardrobe in just about any type or size needed. Not only do they offer jackets but also vests, “shirts,” down pants and stylish matches such as skirts, or pants, so that being eco-friendly is also stylish and fashionable.