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Patagonia built its reputation for thought leadership within the sustainability community by consistently offering other businesses and customers solutions to their biggest challenges. Specifically, the company models behaviors and practices that others can adopt as their own. For example, Patagonia encourages companies to reduce their carbon footprint by revealing tricks they’ve learned to better manage their global supply chain. And they encourage their customers to “repair not replace” their clothing via their Worn Wear initiative.

Why it works

Patagonia’s recent entry into politics is consistent with its long-stated values. Within days of the Trump administration announcing plans to designate 1.35 million acres of public land for commercial use, Patagonia declared its intent to sue the administration. In fact, Patagonia has been firm in its view that companies must lead, with their outspoken CEO claiming the outdoor industry “needs to be as relentless as the NRA” when it comes to defending public lands. Today, Patagonia’s activism includes a multimedia landing page educating the public on the threat posed and a digital platform — Patagonia’s Action Works — that gives like-minded citizens updates and opportunities to take action.


In 2017, Patagonia’s CEO was recognized by the Responsible Business Awards as the CEO of the Year. And Patagonia’s decision to boycott the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market after Utah’s Governor and Washington delegation refused to defend their public land inspired other companies to follow suit and eventually led to the event’s move to Denver after 20 straight years in Salt Lake City, at a great economic cost to the state.

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