Patagonia boss calls on businesses to ‘justify’ sustainability claims
Patagonia’s boss has once again slammed businesses for greenwashing, a practice which sees companies inflate their sustainability to lure in consumers.
The outdoors retailer, which has been making fleeces from recycled bottles since the 90s, in 2011 issued a full-page advert in the New York Times urging customers to rethink their Black Friday purchases, even at the risk of missing out on extra cash.
“Some businesses are really passionate and are really struggling to solve big, complex problems — and there are some that, candidly, are totally full of shit and greenwashing is their strategy,” Patagonia boss Ryan Gellert told The Times.
“I defy any company with any scale that makes anything to really justify that they meet the definition of sustainable.”
Patagonia has marketed itself as a for-the-environment retailer since its conception.
The retailer committed to donating 10 per cent of its profits to environmental causes in 1986, later changing the pledge to one per cent of sales – which are thought to have topped £730m a year.
“You are right to have a level of cynicism with business… We’re not perfect, but when people point out an Achilles’ heel, we’ll say: ‘That’s true… and here’s how we are thinking about it,’” said Gellert, who took over the helm of the company 16 months ago.
It is not the first time the retail boss has been outspoken on the increasing number of sustainability claims sprouting out of businesses.
Gellert said last month that issues like climate change need businesses “stepping up”, adding that “Some companies are starting to say the right things, but I think there is a massive delta between what they say and what they do.”
The retail boss continued that he was content with Patagonia’s “imperfect but consistently committed” approach – suggesting it was the way forward for other businesses.