This isn’t the first year that Patagonia has taken a stand against Black Friday—the brand’s infamous “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign being the most memorable example—but the company’s stance this year might be its most aggressive yet. Patagonia announced yesterday that it will be giving 100% of its global Black Friday sales both online and in its retail stores to environmental grassroots organizations.
The retail industry has taken an increasingly polarizing attitude towards Black Friday, America’s buying orgy that kicks off each year’s holiday season of ignoring the rent, credit card balances and basic prudence in order to shop for, largely, a bunch of stuff none of us need. Some outlets have embraced the holiday, vulgarly expanding the day to include Thanksgiving night and evening—asking poorly paid employees to leave their loved ones during the year’s most family-centric holiday. Other retailers, like REI, have taken a stand and not only refused that expansion, but have decided to sit out Black Friday all together, closing stores and support centers for online operations. Patagonia’s recently announced response to Black Friday may be one of the most striking stands against Black Friday’s excesses.
It is likely accurate to say that brands with a social conscience are more common in the outdoor industry than in any other. Most often, that conscience leads many of these brands to take steps to reduce their environmental impact; using clean energy sources, reducing pollution and so on. But many of these brands also take pride in reducing their human impact by taking steps to guarantee safe working conditions, reasonable workloads, health benefits and fair wages. Patagonia has long been a leader in both of these arenas.
“For decades, Patagonia has demonstrated that caring for our planet is not in conflict with running a successful business. We are always looking for ways to further reduce our manufacturing footprint, including our company’s reliance on fossil fuels. We also fund grassroots environmental organizations by giving away 1 percent of our sales. To date that amount totals $74 million,” noted Patagonia President and CEO Rose Marcario.
For this year’s Black Friday, Patagonia evidently decided that that wasn’t quite enough. Marcario posted a letter on Patagonia’s blog detailing why, and her explanation is worth reading.
During a difficult and divisive time, we felt it was important to go further and connect more of our customers, who love wild places, with those who are fighting tirelessly to protect them. This we know: If we don’t act boldly, severe changes in climate, water and air pollution, extinction of species, and erosion of topsoil are certain outcomes. The threats facing our planet affect people of every political stripe, of every demographic, in every part of the country. We all stand to benefit from a healthy environment — and our children and grandchildren do, too.
By getting active in communities, we can effect local change to protect the food we and our children eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe and the treasured places we love the most. And we can impact global priorities, too, by raising our voices to defend policies and regulations that will reduce carbon emissions, build a modern energy economy based on investment in renewables and, most crucially, ensure the United States remains fully committed to the vital goals set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement.
At Patagonia, we will grow and deepen our resolve to protect what we love. We will fight harder and smarter, and use every means at our disposal to prevail for the sake of the country, the planet and the wild places and creatures that need our voice.
Wherever you live, Black Friday is November 25th. If you absolutely must shop on Black Friday, you might as well do it wisely.