Our Environmental Responsibility Programs
The apparel industry is responsible for as much as 6.7% of the global greenhouse gases emitted in the world and releases 2–3.29 billion tons of CO₂e into our atmosphere every year, according to data from Quantis. The cleaning and disposal of garments (too often in the landfill) only adds to this impact, which is increasing as people buy more and more stuff. If we don’t change course—and soon—we will lock in catastrophic effects of climate change.
Where We Are
For years, we have been working within our own business and throughout our supply chain to reduce our environmental footprint. It’s still not enough.
We’re working toward 100% renewable energy for our global owned and operated stores, offices and distribution centers, but the real challenge comes from materials manufacturing, which accounts for about 85% of our emissions every year. We take responsibility for all of it and are determined to work with our partners and vendors to conserve water, remove toxins and reduce emissions when and wherever possible.
In 1996, we switched to using only organically grown cotton in all our products made from virgin cotton and are continuing to increase our use of preferred materials—from 43% across our whole product line in 2016 to 88% in 2022. (Preferred materials includes organic and Regenerative Organic cotton, hemp, recycled polyester and recycled nylon, among others.)
Over the years, we have cofounded or joined numerous progressive coalitions to change the industry, including the Fair Labor Association, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and B Lab. In doing so, we’ve collectively focused on improving the lives and workplaces for people across the globe, used data to identify the industry’s most pressing challenges, and ensured that we balance the needs of our business with those of society.
And there’s a role for our customers to play, too. We’re teaching people to take care of the things they already have (with as little energy as possible) and reminding them why the jacket they already have is the best one for the planet. Learn more here.
As a company, we’ve never liked talking about things we’re going to do, only things we’ve done. We’ve made an exception for our climate goals, though, because we want everyone to hold us accountable. Here are three big milestones we’re working toward:
- By 2025, we will eliminate virgin petroleum fiber in our products and only use preferred materials. We’re reducing our reliance on fossil fuels by creating products with recycled polyester, like our Better Sweater® jackets. Since Fall 2019, this switch has helped keep 15.5 million pounds of CO₂ out of the atmosphere when compared to their virgin counterparts.
- By 2025, our packaging will be 100% reusable, home compostable, renewable or easily recyclable. We’re on our way. For our hang tags and packaging, we’re using algae ink, removing plastic, and using QR code technology to reduce the amount of paper used in both tags and product inserts by 100,000 pounds a year.
- By 2040, we will be net zero* across our entire business. We’re working to reduce our footprint to the necessary 1.5°C pathway, first and foremost by making our products with less impact. Like the Nano Puff® jacket, which in 2020 was changed to use 100% postconsumer recycled polyester insulation, cutting emissions by nearly half. We are also targeting emissions where they happen—in the supply chain. We are funding energy audits, which will lead to meaningful impact-reduction projects at our most important suppliers. When we’ve gotten a product and its supply chain to the lowest emissions possible, then we’ll invest in natural climate solutions to reach net zero. But we also know that’s not enough. The priority isn’t offsetting emissions—it’s eliminating them.
Want to learn more about our goals? Click here.
*For our fellow climate nerds out there: We have committed to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the value chain by 2040, meaning we will reduce our absolute Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 90%. Our emissions reduction target to reach net-zero was validated by the Science Based Targets initiative in April 2023. These are our varying sources of emissions broken into three areas. Scope 1 refers to greenhouse gas emissions that come from sources Patagonia directly controls, like emissions from on-site vehicles and on-site fuel combustion. Scope 2 refers to indirect greenhouse gas emissions caused by purchased electricity, heat or steam for our headquarters, retail stores and others. Scope 3 covers other indirect emissions, including greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing and transporting of materials and finished goods that go into our products.