Patagonia’s Authentic Sustainability


Patagonia is doing a particularly admirable job at incorporating sustainability in its operations. For instance, 98% of their products use recycled materials in order to reduce their carbon footprint. 100% of their cotton is sourced from organic farms, many of which are family owned. This helps reduce the use of fertilizer which can cause eutrophication in waterways. Finally, the owner of Patagonia has given his company away to a trust, so that all future profits will be donated to fight climate change. 

Nike tries very hard to greenwash their company and maintain a public persona of sustainability. They do this by marketing many of their products as “sustainable”, even though only 10% of these “sustainable” products used recycled materials. This false advertising is rampant in the shoe industry. The company has also been hit with a class action lawsuit over their false sustainability claims. Further, Nike advertises their goal of net zero carbon emissions very heavily in-store and on their website. They do all of this without making clear and visible changes to their business model to actually reduce carbon emissions. 

I believe this debate will only become more prevalent as time goes on. Most major corporations have a net zero carbon emissions goal. Unfortunately, this is frequently just words on a screen, rather than actions and changes. In the future, people will demand that the promised changes have been made and the targets have been met. When companies miss their goals, there will most likely be public backlash. 

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