The Cleanest Line

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    B Corps Unite to Bring Rooftop Solar to 1,500 Homes

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    Led by Patagonia and Kinaʻole Capital Partners, LLC, a first-of-its-kind group of five certified B-Corporations have come together to create a $35 million tax equity fund that will make the benefits of solar power available to more than a thousand U.S. households. The new fund uses state and federal tax credits to direct Patagonia’s tax dollars for residential development of affordable, efficient Sungevity solar energy systems.

    The new fund builds off a similar, successful endeavor between Patagonia and Kinaʻole that was created to purchase 1,000 rooftop solar systems in Hawaiʻi in 2014. Now reaching the mainland United States, this transaction brings together five B Corporations (B Corps): Patagonia as the tax equity investor; Kinaʻole as the fund manager; New Resource Bank and Beneficial State Bank as lenders; and Sungevity, Inc., as the project developer. B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

    Above: Kohl Christensen installs a residential solar system for Kinaʻole Capital Partners. Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. Photo: John Phaneuf

    Continue reading "B Corps Unite to Bring Rooftop Solar to 1,500 Homes" »

    A Different Path: Living in Southern Chile with Bureo co-founder Ben Kneppers

    By Brooke Ortel

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    Patagonia’s $20 Million & Change fund was launched in 2013 to help innovative, like-minded startups bring about solutions to the environmental crisis and other positive change through business. Or, in Yvon’s words, to help entrepreneurs and innovators succeed in “working with nature rather than using it up.” Today, we’re introducing you to one of those companies, Bureo, a fellow B Corporation and member of 1% for the Planet.

    From his cabin in Cocholgüe, Ben Kneppers can see the ocean. An American entrepreneur from Cape Cod, Ben is an unlikely resident of this small coastal community in the south of Chile. He is a co-founder of Bureo, an innovative company that transforms discarded fishing nets into recycled products. In Chile, Ben works on the ground overseeing Bureo’s Net Positiva initiative, the recycling program that is the foundation of their business. Through Net Positiva, Bureo facilitates the collection of discarded nets to obtain the raw materials necessary to manufacture sunglasses and sidewalk cruiser skateboards while simultaneously reducing plastic pollution.

    Above: Bureo co-founders Ben Kneppers (left) and Kevin Ahearn (right) display the amount of fishing net that’s recycled into each Bureo skateboard through Net Positiva, Bureo’s fishing net collection and recycling program. Santiago, Chile. Photo: Kevin Ahearn

    Continue reading "A Different Path: Living in Southern Chile with Bureo co-founder Ben Kneppers" »

    Our DWR Problem [Updated]

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    Update: The majority of this post first appeared on March 6, 2015. It has been updated here with the most recent information about Patagonia’s work to improve chemical safety in our supply chain.

    Patagonia—as well as other high-quality outdoor outerwear suppliers—for years relied on a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) of a certain chemistry (described below) to bead up, then disperse, surface moisture from rainwear. It is necessary, even in a waterproof jacket, to prevent surface saturation. A soggy surface creates a clammy, wet-feeling next-to-skin climate even where water does not actually penetrate the surface. The DWR we used as a standard for years was a long-chain (C8) fluorocarbon-based treatment that is highly effective and extraordinarily durable. Unfortunately, its by-products are toxic and persist in the environment, a combination that makes it unacceptable despite its excellent performance. Governments around the globe have now required chemical companies to stop making C8 DWR, so every high-quality outerwear supplier has been searching for alternatives of comparable performance.

    Continue reading "Our DWR Problem [Updated]" »

    Our DWR Problem

    Please refer to the updated version of this post for the most recent information about Patagonia’s work to improve chemical safety in our supply chain.

    Patagonia—as well as other high-quality outdoor outerwear suppliers—for years relied on a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) of a certain chemistry (described below) to bead up, then disperse, surface moisture from rainwear. It is necessary, even in a waterproof jacket, to prevent surface saturation. A soggy surface creates a clammy, wet-feeling next-to-skin climate even where water does not actually penetrate the surface. The DWR we used as a standard for years was a long-chain (C8) fluorocarbon-based treatment that is highly effective and extraordinarily durable. Unfortunately, its by-products are toxic and persist in the environment, a combination that makes it unacceptable despite its excellent performance. Governments around the globe have now required chemical companies to stop making C8 DWR, so every high-quality outerwear supplier has been searching for alternatives of comparable performance.

    For the past decade, we’ve carefully researched and tested every available fluorocarbon-free alternative. Many finishes—including waxes and silicones—will lower the surface tension of a fabric enough to cause water to bead up and disperse rather than saturate. But they are easily contaminated by dirt and oil and rapidly lose their effectiveness, reducing the effective lifetime of a garment.

    Continue reading "Our DWR Problem" »

    The Cleanest Power – $20 Million & Change invests in Hawaiian rooftop solar project

    Last year, Patagonia Works announced the launch of $20 Million & Change, an investment fund for companies and initiatives that, in the words of our founder Yvon Chouinard, “work with nature rather than use it up.” We promised to update you from time to time on how this project is shaping up.

     

    Patagonia Solar infographic

     

    We’re entering into an agreement with Kina‘ole Capital Partners to create a $27 million fund that will purchase more than 1,000 rooftop solar power systems in Hawai‘i, where most homeowners currently use electricity generated by coal and oil.

    If more businesses followed this investment strategy, we’d have a full-on renewable energy movement on our hands. Conventional wisdom too often assumes business success is incompatible with helping the planet. This investment shows we can do good business by working with nature, rather than using it up—and we’re providing a roadmap for other companies interested in getting their dollars involved too.

    Read how it works—and then help us spread the word on social media!

    Continue reading "The Cleanest Power – $20 Million & Change invests in Hawaiian rooftop solar project" »

    Introducing ‘$20 Million & Change’ and Patagonia Works – A Holding Company for the Environment

    By Yvon Chouinard

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    I don’t like to think of myself as a businessman. I’ve made no secret that I hold a fairly skeptical view of the business world. That said, Patagonia, the company my wife and I founded four decades ago, has grown up to be — by global standards — a medium-size business. And that bestows on our family a serious responsibility. The last line of Patagonia’s mission statement is “… use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” We’ve always taken that seriously.

    Three examples: Every year for 30 years, Patagonia has donated one percent of its sales to grassroots environmental organizations. We helped initiate the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, an organization of companies that produces more than a third of the clothing and footwear on the planet. In a very short time, the Coalition has launched an index of social and environmental performance that designers (and eventually consumers) can use to make better decisions when developing products or choosing materials. And last year we became one of California’s first B Corps (benefit corporations), which means that the values that helped make our company successful are now etched into our legal charter.

    Continue reading "Introducing ‘$20 Million & Change’ and Patagonia Works – A Holding Company for the Environment" »

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