Patagonia - Corporate Social Responsibility

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When it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR), Patagonia is the pioneer

and poster child. Patagonia has found distinct ways to integrate product function with

environmental values. Their business model raises a lot of money for environmental causes

and their technological innovation reduces the environmental impact of their products. Since

1986 they have donated 10% of profits or 1% of sales, whichever is greater, to environmental

efforts, and employees can take up to two weeks of paid leave annually to work for a nonprofit

environmental group of their choosing. In 1996 they switched over to organic cotton and

every cotton garment they've made since then has been from organic fabric. The company

has also implemented a recycling program for old clothes, where customers can bring back old

coats or other apparel items to have its fibers recycled into new products. They were the first

outdoor clothing designer and distributor to base a product line on fleece made out of recycled

soda bottles, diverting plastic bottles from landfills and saving oil and toxic air emissions. Most

recently, Patagonia announced the re-launch of its famous “Footprint Chronicles” website. The

new version outlines the environmental and social footprint of a majority (90%) of Patagonia’s

Spring 2012 product line and provides customers views into every supplier in its supply chain.

One click now allows a customer to see where (via Google Maps) and how (via a film or photo

tour) a product was made, ideally providing customers with detailed information to allow an

educated purchase decision. Patagonia should be applauded for their efforts in standardizing

the practice of corporate social responsibility as they continue to be a model for environmental

stewardship.

On the other hand you have Wal-Mart, which is the largest retailer in the world and has

a long history of unethical employee relations and bullying vendors....
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