Patagonia and the Footprint Chronicles: Showing that Honesty is the Best Policy Toward Sustainability

Yvon Chouinard - Founder of Patagonia“There is no business to be done on a dead planet.”
-David Brower

These are the words etched into the front door of Patagonia’s headquarters in Ventura, California. And it has been Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard’s mission to model his company upon that foundation.

Chouinard and Patagonia aren’t new to readers of Triple Pundit, but what you may not be aware of is a new online project called the Footprint ChroniclesFrom here you can track the environmental footprint of five Patagonia products from design through delivery. Each product is thoroughly examined including distance traveled (an admitted weak spot for Patagonia’s production cycle), carbon emissions, waste produced, and energy used.

Under Chouinard’s leadership, the company has never been prone to – dare I even use the word – greenwashing. Patagonia is, in fact, the antithesis of that dreadful term. The Footprint Chronicles advances that antithesis and with it comes complete honesty – the good, the bad, and the ugly. A customer can easily get a complete picture of the impact a product has on the environment, something sorely missing in mainstream consumer products, where at best there is only a vague notion of what happened before those nifty hiking boots showed up on the store rack. 

For Patagonia, the idea is simple:
“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

Tom is the founder, editor, and publisher of and the TDS Environmental Media Network. He has been a contributor for Triple Pundit since 2007. Tom has also written for Slate, Earth911, the Pepsico Foundation, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, and many other sustainability-focused publications. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists

5 responses

  1. I am an avid admirer of Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia (unfortunately, they do not have stores in Australia) – and this is a fabulous idea. Not only does it give customers the tools necessary to make an informed purchasing decision, it reinforces that Patagonia are true to their cause and allows them to differentiate themselves from the growing number of companies that are simply “greenwashing”. Well done Patagonia!

  2. During Chouinard’s visit to his Palo Alto store last week, I asked him about greenwashing and he said, “It’s okay as long as it’s a first step.” I’m a reporter writing a story about greenwashing, and would love to hear from anyone in the East San Francisco Bay Area with examples of local companies who are guilty of the practice, so feel free to cruise by my blog at and leave a comment.

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