Can We Trust Patagonia?

Topics: Behavior

Have you ever checked the labels on your clothes to see where they come from? Do the companies provide safe and fair conditions to the workers? You may not have known that some of these workers work up to 20 hours a day to make the product you need. There are some companies that use forced labor and don’t tell the truth about what themselves. Over the past years Patagonia has been installing progressive ideas to help create better working conditions; for instance Patagonia does not use forced labor, have been cited to take interest in the wellbeing of their workers, and shows support to migrant workers as well.

Patagonia also taking impressive action to reduce their environmental impact and the company is known for quality clothes and customer loyalty. These are reasons that show people should continue buy from their product since it’s beneficial for all the consumers, workers, and the company. Patagonia came out from a small company that made tools for climbers.

The company was established by Yvon Chouinard in 1973 and after it goes bankrupt in 1989, the company split into Black Diamond Equipment, selling climbing gear, and the current Patagonia company, which sells delicate clothes. “The challenges we face as a society require leadership. Once we identify a problem, we act. We embrace risk and act to protect and restore the stability, integrity and beauty of the web of life” (Patagonia). This shows that the company use the business to protect the nature, and they attempt to cause less harm and do more good.

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At the beginning, I referred to the words child labor and forced labor. Some people might not know what are these terms’ come from.

There are many sweatshops around the world with a really bad working condition and some of the workers are children from age 3 to up. “For consumers, it’s often impossible to know whether their products have been made by slave hands. According to Human Rights Watch, the United States is the No. 1 destination for “Made in Cambodia” clothing — garments stitched in sweatshops by mostly women, but also children who work into the night” (Gutierrez).

Basically this quote is saying that America accepts lots of imports from these sweatshops that women and children had to work through nights just for making the stuff we use these days. According to “The list of slave-labor imports you use might surprise you”by Lisa Gutierrez, President Obama made a big move to stop accepting imports that made in the sweatshops in Cambodia, Mexico, China, India, Turkey,Turkey, and Malaysia. The law he signed was an 86-year-old ban on importing products made by these sweatshops or children. Unfortunately the law got rejected as one lawmaker identified it as “an unconscionable and archaic loophole” that forced America to accept products from all these worst condition sweatshops.

The good news is when Patagonia found human slaves in its supply chain and realized they are making the migrant workers to pay thousands of dollars just to work, they decided to become partners with Verité, an NGO that is focusing on changing the work settings to a fair and safe conditions for the benefit of a company supply chain. According to “What Patagonia Did When It Found Human Slaves in Its Supply Chain” the editor Hensel claimed that for securing job in Taiwan, migrant workers must pay a “broker fee” to help them find a position. These fees are up to $7,000, and it can take more than two years for them to pay back. Lots of the migrant workers were depended to marvelous broker fees, low wages, and long hours. “As of June 1, 2015 Patagonia’s Taiwanese suppliers can no longer require migrant workers to pay broker fees to secure a job.

They must also repay current workers affected by broker fees. Going forward, factory owners either have to pay the fee themselves, or find workers without using a broker”(Hensel). The point is that Patagonia cares about their workers and how the goods are made, that is the reason they became partners with Verité. Moreover, Patagonia has become partners with another nonprofit organization called Fair Trade USA. According to “Patagonia Partners With Fair Trade USA” by Ventura County Star, this organization ensures that products are made in factories where workers are safe, treated with respect, and paid fair for their labors. Also they are against the child labor. Patagonia and other certified companies must pay an additional premium to raise their standard of living. “Fair Trade USA’s approach has proven it contributes to a better standard of living, including pay and employee participation in the work place and community. It also helps create better working-conditions and safeguards against the use of child labor.” Said Rose Marcario, Patagonia’s president and CEO.

This means that customers should continue to buy from their product since every purchase counts as a vote for the good values, for the workers and, for the environment. As I mentioned Patagonia is an environmental friendly company that means this company is taking responsibility over lifecycle by auditing the materials and methods they used to make their products. “All of their cotton is certified organic by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and they’re bluesign® certified for 56% of their fabrics. A high proportion of their materials are made from recycled fabrics, including their polyester, nylon, and wool. Patagonia belongs to both the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and 1% For The Planet”(Wolfe). This quote is about the products that are made with higher quality and with less harm to nature; for example, Patagonia has been selling fleece clothing made from post-consumers water bottle since 1993 and the company estimates that between 14 years they saved 86 million soda bottles from ending up on landfill. There are many convincing articles on their websites for how each fabric made, also every step they take to improve themselves.

These are all impressive actions that Patagonia made to reduce the environmental impacts. At last, this question might comes into your mind that we are all aware of the actions Patagonia takes for the beneficial of workers and the environment, but when it comes to buying their products as consumers, can all kind of people afford it? The answer is no, not all the people can afford to buy their products because they are expensive. But how many hats or shoes you actually need to live for a year? Or how many gear equipment you want for skiing? If you can only buy one pair of high quality shoes, it can last for years. On Friday, November 25, 2011 Patagonia run an advertisement on The New York Times for Black Friday; the ad was telling “Don’t Buy This Jacket”. What was the reason? The company was trying to tell the people that don’t spend your money on many low quality stuff, but spend your money on something that can last for years. “It would be hypocritical for us to work for environmental change without encouraging customers to think before they buy. To reduce environmental damage, we all have to reduce consumption as well as make products in more environmentally sensitive, less harmful ways”(Patagonia). Their point is that not only Patagonia but us as a consumer should take an action to save our planet. With buying from fast fashion companies not only we support them but also we support all those worst working conditions that Patagonia tries to stop.

As a result, we know what child labor and forced labor are and that some companies take advantage of those people or sweatshops to pay less wages. We realized that Patagonia became partners with Verité and Fair Trade USA to support their workers living, and the migrant workers from paying broker fees. Also they are using all recycled and organic materials to save the planet and our environment and despite the high cost for their products, we all should continue to purchase from them, because having fewer clothes or gears with high quality are better than having lots of stuff with almost no quality. Rememberer every purchase counts as one vote!

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Can We Trust Patagonia?. (2021, Feb 22). Retrieved from

Can We Trust Patagonia?
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