Patagonia wants to implement a sustainable corporate strategy, instead of just establishing a green image like some of the competition do.
“In our industry greenwashing is widespread,” says Chouinard to “Spiegel”. The competition in the outdoor sector is wooing customers by using sustainable raw materials such as bamboo, but is ignoring the fact that poisonous chemical processes are needed for this: “In the production process, the bamboo pulp is transformed into a viscose. To do this you need poisonous chemicals which are not environmentally friendly at all.”
The Patagonia boss mentions the “Better Cotton Initiative” as a poor example which, according to Yvon Chouinard, “has joined large companies like Nike. Perhaps they go without formaldehyde when cultivating, but at the end of the day it is industrially grown cotton. All companies want to do is not process any organic cotton.” The Patagonia boss phrases it drastically: “This Better Cotton Initiative is absolute bullshit: Pure greenwashing.”
And how is Patagonia doing itself? Although their own products are not completely free from problematic materials such as micro plastics, Patagonia does try nevertheless to be successful without any environmentally harmful materials.
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However, he could not convince other large companies of his philosophy, Yvon Chouinard explains: “I gave up the idea of influencing other manufacturers with our example.”
Yvon Chouinard explains it to “Spiegel” as follows: “As soon as companies exceed a certain size, they often get the profit first syndrome. I know so many companies that have claimed, ‘We are making our business green.’ Actually it is almost always greenwashing. They pick the low-hanging fruits and do whatever makes them the most profit, for example recycling cardboard boxes. However if they have to make a decision that is the correct one and costs them profit, then they will shy away from that.”