Over the course of 25 years or so, consumers have started to adjust their purchasing decisions towards companies who are known to demonstrate corporate social responsibility, and as a result, it has become common for other firms to adjust their practices accordingly in order to remain competitive. Prior to this change, companies were more focused on benefiting internal stakeholders by keeping costs low and turning a profit, causing communities and the environment to suffer. In 1985, Patagonia became one of the first companies to sacrifice a portion of their profits in support of the environment by pledging 1% of sales, not gross profit, to grassroots environmental organizations who work to exacerbate the adverse environmental conditions industries have created.
Since their initial pledge, Patagonia has donated roughly $89 million to these organizations per their website, and last year on black Friday, easily the largest day of shopping every year, the company donated 100% of sales to grassroots environmental organizations. Because of Patagonia’s designation as a B Corporation, they are required to assess their performance based not only on financial performance, but also on their environmental and social advancements. With the growing consumer attention surrounding responsible companies like Patagonia, their efforts have actually increased sales and overall profits, allowing them to grow into one of the largest outdoor retailers in the market currently.
Patagonia’s pledge of 1% for The Planet is one of several practices employed by the brand aimed at improving their corporate social responsibility, along with Fair Trade Certified materials and traceable down insulation among others. Being a responsible company is a wonderful thing, and it’s now essential to inform consumers of these practices in an effort to separate from competition and identify as a brand not solely concerned with financial gain. Using their website, social media platforms, and other digital mediums, Patagonia informs consumers on which CSR practices were in place to create certain products, why these practices are essential to society and the environment, and an entire blog focused on illustrating why they are “the cleanest [clothing] line.” By constantly reminding consumers of these practices and their benefits, Patagonia has become a brand consumers believe in and want to support by purchasing clothes and equipment that could otherwise be purchased for less money elsewhere.