Patagonia is a brand unafraid to point out and label both green washing and fast fashion. They are engaging in a multifaceted effort to pave the way for greener clothes and fashion as a whole, providing great insight to the problems of overconsumption and convenience. They tackle this not only through targeting manufacturing processes, such as using 64% of recycled materials and fibres in their clothing and organically produced cotton, saving 3,000 metric tons of CO2e, but also through an effort to expand product life cycles, by repairing products 56,000 in this season alone. Alongside this environmental effort there are multiple social responsibility programmes, whether that’s for meeting living wages, through fair trade work, allowing benefits to be given to workers, or working to eliminate fees for migrant workers Patagonia does a lot for bettering the world. But doing more is always possible, and Patagonia must continue to push their boundaries and go above and beyond to be part of the flagship effort in sustainable fashion. Here I rated the Hoody a 2.5 not a 3 due to the fact that things are not perfect, although they are comparatively of a very high standard in a sustainability sense. There is opportunity for improvement in all three parts of my review; what it’s made of, how it’s made and who makes it. Therefore I cannot score a 3 overall.
The P-6 Logo Uprisal Hoody is made up of 95% recycled materials. Coming from “14.9 plastic bottles, and 0.8 pounds of cotton scrap”, resulting in a saving of 184 gallons of water in comparison to a conventional cotton hoodie. Patagonia describe their recycled cotton as “scraps gathered from factory floors”, and that utilising this increases the products life span by an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to conventionally sourced cotton. Using plastic bottles to create recycled polyester means that less natural resources, “petroleum-based materials” are needed, further reducing CO2 emissions by 59% instead of using virgin polyester fibres. Although this product uses 5% elastin, needed for strengthening, elasticity and fast drying properties. The problem here is that it contains DMAc (dimethylacetamide), a solvent considered of high concern for its toxicity levels by the EU. Patagonia argue they are “looking for recycled spandex options” but so far have not made any changes since the products release. But, comparatively Patagonia have created a high quality, comfortable product with sustainability at the forefront of its development.
In the supply chains, the initial materials from their recycled or natural places of origin are delivered from, and processed in the factories, farms and mills. Although Patagonia does not own any of these factories, they make an effort to take care of their workers, 82% of their line is “fair trade certifiedTM”. Meaning at least this many are paid a living wage, where as as seen in British Retail Consortium “90% of workers are paid below national minimum wage”. The explicit process of this product development is not stated, although details of the materials used are given and have been explained in the “what it’s made of” section. Even though the process of using recycled nylon and polyester helps to reduce emissions and divert waste from landfill, the manufacturing process of these materials is still “energy-hungry”. Creating nylon produces nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more damaging than CO2. Likewise, polyester needs large volumes of water for cooling, and lubricants which are “possible sources of contamination”, meaning these two materials although produced in a manor less detrimental to the environment still have contributing effects global warming. The lengths Patagonia go to, to make their products in a more sustainable fashion is indeed greater than most of its competitors, “68% of their fabrics are made with recycled materials. Less than 10% of fibres used globally are made with recycled materials”.
This product in particular is completely “Fairtrade CertifiedTMsewn” which means a premium is paid for each product sold so that these extra funds go right to the workers of that factory. The organisation of the distribution of these funds is done on a factory basis, distributed by a democratically elected committee of Fair-Trade workers. Some examples are; community projects, healthcare programs, and child care centres, or to simply purchase products such as laptops and stoves. Not only this there are health and safety regulations “encouraging dialogue between workers and management”. This shows that not only does Patagonia invest in its workers, it pays attention to where the funds go and how they're used. Encouraging other brands to join the Fairtrade movement. Patagonia is championing paying all its workers a living wage “living wage should cover a decent standard of living for the worker and their family”, a living wage is higher than a national minimum wage as this is the minimum amount you can legally pay a worker in that country. Before the COVID-19 pandemic “35% of the apparel assembly force are paid a living wage”, companies like Nike and Adidas do not pay a living wage at all. This statistic, in my opinion, has room to grow. I feel that although it is a comparatively high statistic, it is still a relatively low number being just over a third, and I would hope to see Patagonia push this number higher, holding its competitors accountable as it does. Since then, due to the unemployment caused from the pandemic they have not produced data on the job losses. Although they emphasise their efforts and utilisation of their “Responsible Purchasing Practices Program”, a program developed to minimise any negative effects on supply chain workers. Nothing yet has been said explicitly on the size of the pandemics impact. Patagonia offer the ability to track and view particular factories and farms in their supply chain. In particular this piece is made is made in Vertical Knits S.A de C.V. Baca, Yucatan, Mexico, detailing things like the number workers and their efforts in fair labour practices. Picking a factory utilises a “4-fold approach” to pre-screen before including them in their supply chain. Requiring them to adhere to their code of conduct (based on the International Labour Organisation standards), but also their “business, quality, environmental and social standards”. I feel this is a great way to select factories, and their “4-fold approach” includes what I would consider to be the most important factors to a sustainable supply chain. Patagonia should look to pressure it's competitors to follow suit in this approach.