Patagonia has sued President Trump. Curious to know why?

Photo:  Bob Wick/BLM /Flickr CC (BY 2.0)

Photo: Bob Wick/BLM/Flickr CC (BY 2.0)

In a few weeks school will be over for the year. Holidays are for recharging the batteries and to relax, but for many people living in big cities, they also represent a way to get immersed in nature and to benefit from it. So today's article will talk about one of our favourite brands – Patagonia – and how far a brand can go in advocating for the environment.

Patagonia has not only been pretty vocal against many of the government's decisions and executive orders since Trump took office, but has also never been shy of fighting for nature and has funded many grassroots campaigns over the years. The fact that the company has a long-standing tradition in supporting causes to protect the environment makes it clear that Patagonia is not taking a political stance, but its actions are driven by what Patagonia stands for, its values and beliefs (on this we tend to disagree with the assumptions of the NY Times article). The campaign for Jumbo Wild is an example of this. Jumbo is a beautiful untouched area in British Columbia that is under threat of being transformed into a ski resort. Patagonia has supported locals and campaigners over the last four years in asking the local government to listen to the will of people and their firm position against building a resort on the land. Patagonia's action concerning Trump's plans to shrink Bears Ears by over one million acres and cutting Grand Staircase-Escalante in half was on a different scale though. The fact that Trump administration's decision as they describe ‘to reduce federal overreach’ on public lands is meant to potentially opening up protected areas to drilling and mining can be seen by some as conspiracy thinking, by others as a real threat. Patagonia had no doubt that this poses a grave threat. So, it took a clear stand - one unprecedented in its company history: instead of promotional images advertising its products, the home page presented a stark message: "The President Stole Your Land."

Moreover, it sued President Trump arguing that the Antiquities Act of 1906 gave presidents the power to create national monuments, but it did not grant the power to reduce them. Of course, the action caused a reaction. The Trump administration hit back, and the Republicans in Congress accused Patagonia of playing politics to sell more clothes, and the hashtag #BoycottPatagonia began circulating on Twitter. Patagonia does not deny that there is also an economic interest in taking actions to protect public lands. In an article published in the Magazine TIME, Patagonia's CEO Rose Macario states: "Outdoor recreation is America's fourth-largest industry — driving $887 billion in annual consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association." The fact that Patagonia started supporting grassroots organisations back in 1985, though, gives a perspective to their actions that cannot be missed.

As nature lovers and believers in the need for brands to have a purpose and follow the Triple Bottom Line principles when doing business, you can imagine what is our wish for the outcome of the dispute between Patagonia and the US Government…

 For further reading - including Trump’s supporters -:

The full article by Patagonia's CEO Macario explaining the reason behind the Company's decision:

Videos on the Jumbo Wild campaign

Heike Schnell