The unveiling of Patagonia’s “new plan to save our one and only home” could be the most significant action a clothing retailer has taken. 

The American outdoor clothing company has long been known – and loved – for its environmentally friendly credentials and social conscience. But it raised the bar when founder, Yvon Chouinard, revealed that all future excess profits will go “to fight the environmental crisis, protect nature and biodiversity, and support thriving communities”.

Bonded in a common interest to fight the environmental and social degradation caused by the supply chain, Patagonia and TRAID’s relationship goes back a decade. We partnered with Patagonia’s Covent Garden shop hosting in-store sewing and repair workshops and TRAID clothing banks. We’ve always considered Patagonia an excellent example of business promoting good environmental habits, with innovative materials, repair and campaigns.

TRAID and Patagonia share a beneficent approach, including an awareness of the consequences of company actions. TRAID’s CEO Maria Chenoweth said, “Every professional and personal decision we make has social and environmental impacts”. Patagonia recognises the harmful environmental impact of its business – “we do not see ourselves as a sustainable business. We are not“’ – donating one per cent of global sales to NGOs to try to mitigate this.

TRAID and Patagonia are united in championing organic cotton. TRAID funds at least 2% of organic lint cotton currently being produced worldwide, because moving from non-organic to organic cotton is the single, most environmentally beneficial change retailers can make in their supply chains. Since 1996, Patagonia has used only 100% organic cotton which manages pests using natural methods, and supports biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.

Importantly, TRAID has long called for a change to the damaging business model that exploits people and the planet. “We need to redefine what it is for a business to be satisfied, we need to redefine business full stop.” One of Patagonia’s Directors concurred: “If we want to protect nature and support communities, businesses can’t continue to adhere to the prevailing economic model.” Patagonia’s new stance takes the traditional business model and flips the narrative, with earth its only shareholder. We think this incredible action marks a fundamental systemic shift in the concept of profit-making.

Patagonia’s decision to fight the environmental crisis, protect nature and diversity, and support thriving communities is caring, humane and kind.

We can only hope that other businesses will follow suit.