green surfing
the californian outdoor brand patagonia has dedicated itself exclusively to “unmotorized sports”. best-possible quality, functional design and a conscious approach to nature are the basic principles on which their corporate philosophy is based. the essential elements were defined by the company’s founder, yvon chouinard. his motto to “make the best product and affect the environment as little as possible” has had validity since the beginnings of the brand in 1973.

the name patagonia symbolizes wild nature and a unique mountain landscape in the southern-most part of argentina. people who visit this area rugged by wind and weather to hike and climb its mountains require efficient and reliable clothing. yvon chouinard, who founded the outdoor clothing and equipment company approximately 40 years ago and who has remained a mountaineer at heart all throughout his life, knows exactly how (vitally) important functional clothing can be in rough mountain regions. when chouinard founded the company, he was aware from the beginning that only with best-quality products one can achieve a sustainable effect and withstand the unpredictable changes in the weather. over the years, this principle paired with a great love for nature and a strong awareness for and commitment to the environment have turned the california-based brand into one of the world’s most successful outdoors companies.

accordingly, people with an unconventional lifestyle and a great passion for exercise in nature have become the key target group for patagonia. while mountaineering is still one of the core segments in the product portfolio, the overall selection has expanded widely. today, surfers, trail runners, kayakers, snowboarders, skiers, fly-fishermen and mountain bikers will also find everything their outdoor heart desires. the focus is on all those sports that make do without motorization. the concentration on non-motorized sports clearly references yvon chouinard’s goal of founding a company that acts as sustainably as possible and that will still exist 100 years from now, as stated by the founder of patagonia in his book “let my people go surfing”.

since the year 1996, exclusively organic cotton is used for the clothing collection. recyclable materials are also incorporated more and more. for the fleece product line for example, but also for functional jackets and board shorts, recycled polyester made from old plastic bottles is used. this way, over 90 million plastic bottles were recycled in the last few years. almost 90 percent of the collection (except for footwear) is recycled or reused in the meantime. particularly noteworthy in this context is the “common threads recycling programme”. with this “ecocircle” programme, consumers can return worn polyester clothing to one of the retail partners (around 700 in europe), and the pieces can be recycled into new products again.

in 2001, patagonia founder chouinard also established the non-profit organization “1% for the planet”, which meanwhile has more than 1,000 member companies who each donate one percent of their annual revenue to environmental organizations and activists.

the so-called “employee internship programme” shows how important it is for patagonia to contribute to environmental protection from within the company too. as part of this initiative, the company’s 1,400 employees worldwide can work for an environmental organization for up to two months – while being paid in full. also exemplary is the 15,800 m2 large service center in reno in the us state of nevada, which was for the most part built in accordance with environmental standards and has an energy-saving lighting system. speaking of lighting and electricity: part of the energy required for the californian headquarters in ventura is generated by an in-house solar system, which was installed on the office building’s parking lot a few years ago. that california’s numerous sunny days not only feed the solar system of the company headquarters, but also offer employees the possibility of going surfing at the nearby beach, of course is not an unpleasant side effect ...

helmut wolf