Patagonia ups regenerative agriculture efforts
Outdoor clothing company Patagonia has launched new campaigns to highlight the benefits of regenerative organic agriculture in tackling the climate and ecological crises, having launched a new range of cotton T-shirts sourced from farms promoting sustainable agriculture methods.
Agricultural practices are a huge contributor to climate change, accountable for around 25% of global carbon emissions. Industrial farming, whether for food or fibre, also degrades soil which can reduce growing capabilities and lead to a loss of water.
Regenerative agricultural practices – whereby natural elements associated with farming are regenerated through new systems - are emerging at pace and are being championed within ambitious corporate sustainability strategies. Global brewer Pernod Ricard’s “terroir” approach is one example, but outdoor clothing brand Timberland 'net-positive' leather sourcing, Kering’s fashion industry standard capable of verifying raw materials and finished products as 'regenerative' and General Mills’ supply chain programme are just some examples of how companies are moving from the mitigation environmental degradation to regenerative approaches.
Patagonia are the latest company to promote regenerative agricultural practices. The company is a founding member of the Regenerative Organic Alliance, alongside Dr Bronner’s, Compassion in World Farming, Demeter and the Fair World Project and others. The Alliance had created a Regenerative Organic Certification that showcases whether a product has been made using processes to regenerate the land.
Regenerative Organic farming builds healthy soil to trap in more carbon and the Certification also focuses on social prosperity for farmers, including paying a living wage. Regenerative Organic techniques include cover cropping, crop rotation, inter-cropping, low- to no-tilling and composting.
Patagonia’s vice president of sportswear Helena Barbour said: “When we realised the power of soil sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, it was a real aha! moment. It’s very dramatic to find something that doesn’t just mitigate a problem, or reduce the impact of a problem, but actually does something good.
“We had the chance to travel to India to see Regenerative Organic farms and they’re little paradises: they’re very biodiverse, they use beneficial insects and they have animals living on the farm. Many of the farmers in India said this was like going back to their traditional practices: their great-grandfathers used to farm like this.”
To raise awareness of the practices and the Certification, Patagonia has launched a range of Regenerative Organic cotton T-shirts. The cotton was sourced from more than 150 Indian farms taking part in a pilot scheme. In the US, Patagonia Provisions, the food arm of the business, has partnered with 650 farms in Nicaragua to grow Regenerative Organic mangoes.
Patagonia is also advancing the initiative across Europe by working with the Ecological Land Cooperative, Soil Hub, DEAFAL, Soil Heroes and Ferme Université Domaine du Possible.
The supply chain accounts for 97% of Patagonia carbon emissions. Regenerative practices will, therefore, assist the company’s goal to be carbon neutral across its entire business, including supply chain by 2025.
Regenerative Organic farming is the latest initiative that Patagonia has introduced to focus on environmental stewardship and activism.
The company's Black Friday fundraiser for environmental organisations hit its $10m (£7.6m) in 2019 - meaning the firm will now donate $10m of its own to these causes.
Launched in late November as part of its Patagonia Action Works platform, the campaign was visible on Patagonia’s website and in its US, UK and EU stores. It encouraged members of the public across the world to donate to grassroots organisations working to preserve and restore nature, assuring viewers that Patagonia would match donations up to $10m.
The money will be divided between more than 100 environmental NGOs working across the areas of biodiversity, climate, communities, land and water. On a European basis, the campaign will enable Patagonia to more than double the funding it donates to grassroots NGOs in 2020.