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Growing the Grassroots

In 1972, the Ventura City Council met to consider an ambitious commercial development on the western flood-plain of the Ventura River near our headquarters. A lot of scientists got up to speak in support of the project. They said it wouldn’t hurt the river because it was already “dead.” Mark Capelli, who was a young graduate student and called himself “Friends of the Ventura River,” then gave a slide show showing all the life that was still in and around the river: eels, birds, raccoons. He pointed out there were still 50 steelhead showing up each year to migrate upstream. It brought the house down, and the project was eventually stopped.

Capelli’s success demonstrated to us the power of the grassroots to affect positive change. Since then—through our membership in 1% For The Planet®—we’ve donated over $74 million in cash to thousands of community-based groups working to create positive change for the planet in their own backyards:

  • Taking down dams
  • Restoring forests and rivers
  • Finding solutions to and mitigate climate change
  • Protecting critical land and marine habitat
  • Protecting threatened and endangered plants and animals
  • Supporting local, organic and sustainable agriculture

These groups often have less than five paid staffers; some are run entirely by volunteers. Instead of giving large sums to a handful of causes, we give modest grants—which typically range between $2,500 - $10,000—to hundreds of groups every year for whom this money makes a world of difference.

As a company that uses resources and produces waste, we recognise our impact on the environment and feel a responsibility to give back. For us, it’s not charity or traditional philanthropy. It’s part of the cost of doing business. We call it our Earth Tax.

By the Numbers:
Quantifying Our Environmental & Social Work in Fiscal Year 2016(May 1, 2015-April 30, 2016)

7.1 MILLION: Dollars donated to fund environmental work

78 MILLION: Dollars and in-kind services we’ve donated since we started our tithing program in 1985

824: Environmental groups that received a Patagonia grant this year

157,000: Dollars given to nonprofits through our Employee Charity Match program

38 MILLION: Dollars allocated to invest in environmentally and socially responsible companies through our venture capital fund, Tin Shed Ventures

5: Mega-dams that will not be built on Chile’s Baker and Pascua rivers thanks to a worldwide effort in which we participated

192: Fair Trade Certified™ styles in the Patagonia line as of fall 2016

430,000: Dollars in Fair Trade premiums paid to apparel workers since we introduced Fair Trade products in 2014

300,000: Dollar amount of new and used clothing given through our clothing donation program

100: Percentage of Patagonia products we take back for recycling

20: Year anniversary of using only organically grown cotton in our cotton clothing

14,000: Volunteer hours worked through our environmental internship program

1,600: Number of employees who have taken part in our environmental internship program since its inception in 1994

1,158: Hours employees at our Ventura and Reno campuses worked through Patagonia’s volunteer program

80: Number of activists trained this year at our Tools for Grassroots Activists conference

798,900: Single-driver car trip miles avoided through our Drive-Less program

44,000: Clothing repairs performed at our Reno repairs facility, the biggest in the U.S.

10,000: Number of Tools for Grassroots Activists books printed

100+ MILLION: Dollars 1% for the Planet® has donated to nonprofit environmental groups since it was founded in 2002 by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and Craig Mathews

95: Percentage (by weight) of waste-stream materials recycled at our Reno Service Center

For a more detailed (and beautiful) look at our work in 2016, browse our Environmental + Social Initiatives digital booklet. To learn more about how your company can join Patagonia in committing 1% of sales to groups making positive change in their communities, visit 1% for the Planet.

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