Op Ed: General Conscious Consumerism

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By Kimberly Adams

I've noticed a lot of fellow Santa Barbarans wearing Patagonia jackets, and a few that use the brand's backpacks/bags. They may not be aware that this company has dealt with a couple huge controversies in the last two years. One of them concerned the inhumane treatment of sheep that were skinned and mutilated, while still alive, during their wool production process. Another addressed the occurrence of human trafficking in relation to imports by Patagonia.

Being a proud Santa Barbaran who has been eco and animal-friendly in the non-hipster way for as long as I can remember, I wonder if any others pay attention to the manufacturing procedures, locations, etc. (so, the politics involved in a brand's merchandise.) I know that some of us do the best we can by supporting the farmers market, recycling, reducing waste, among other proactive decisions.

Conscious decisions like researching a bit about a company or reading articles regularly can inform a person about the behind-the-scenes goings-on of a manufacturer. This lessens an individual's ignorance and increases the level of informed, educated choices he or she will make. I also believe that journalists and reporters have the responsibility to spread accurate and helpful news, which includes uncovering or circulating valid information about any topic, especially what we spend our money on.

Ultimately, because financial gains reach those who found or manage companies like Patagonia, I am of the opinion that protesting can begin in little ways such as discontinuing use and support of certain products. In turn, I would hope that the companies will change their ways to demonstrate their level of maturity and understanding of consumer preferences (like treating humans, animals, and the planet humanely and with the utmost respect.) This isn't something that should be rare and difficult to implement. 

In modern societies, our social responsibility is to protect those who are helpless, such as children, the disabled, the disenfranchised, animals, and the environment. With this, I am not saying that we should sacrifice everything to assist those in need. But, one should try to re-pay the community for all it represents or provides, which, in my perfect world, would be support (of any kind), acceptance/understanding, and the sense of belonging many of us crave. Essentially, humanity is all for which I am asking and all that I am encouraging.


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7 Comments

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a-1510999888 Jul 14, 2017 02:45 PM
Op Ed: General Conscious Consumerism

"“In China, where three activists investigating factories making her line were recently arrested, assembly-line workers produce Ivanka Trump woven blouses, shoes and handbags. Laborers in Indonesia stitch together her dresses and knit tops. Suit jackets are assembled in Vietnam, cotton tops in India and denim pants in Bangladesh … And in Ethiopia, where manufacturers have boasted of paying workers a fifth of what they earn in Chinese factories, workers made … Ivanka Trump-brand shoes … “Trump [who last weekend sat in her for her father during a meeting at the G-20] still owns her company … Her attorney Jamie Gorelick told The Post in a statement that Trump is ‘concerned’ about recent reports regarding the treatment of factory workers and ‘expects that the company will respond appropriately.’ … The company still has no immediate plans to follow the emerging industry trend of publishing the names and locations of factories that produce its goods.” Her line also declined to disclose the language of a code of conduct that it claims prohibits physical abuse and child labor." Washington Post 7/14/17

a-1510999888 Jul 06, 2017 09:11 AM
Op Ed: General Conscious Consumerism

Patagonia consistently ranks high as one of the companies most supportive of employees, offering on site daycare, time off for voting and other perks. As others have pointed out, they encourage activism and reacted appropriately to concerns raised in the OpEd. So many other companies are a better choice for "Conscious Consumerism" .

MountainMan4865 Jul 05, 2017 09:21 PM
Op Ed: General Conscious Consumerism

This could go in so many directions. If people just looked at who they were giving their money to, rather than subscribing to a logo or status. Take Whole Foods, which started out as a tiny co-op that's now a major corporate monster, using near free prison labor. They made a statement that they were going to stop the practice in mid -2015, but apparently they haven't gotten around to it yet.

holazola Jul 05, 2017 02:59 PM
Op Ed: General Conscious Consumerism

I'm not sure what the author's beef is with Patagonia, but a quick bit of research on the two items mentioned show both occurred over two years ago. Additionally, Patagonia's quick response and corrective actions show me that they are an above average "corporate citizen", and probably not the appropriate target for such ethical hand-wringing. In addition to the links provided by other commenters, here are a few links to Patagonia's own responses to these issues: http://www.patagonia.com/blog/2015/08/petas-wool-video/ http://www.patagonia.com/blog/2015/06/the-unacceptably-high-cost-of-labor-a-new-migrant-worker-standard-from-patagonia/

a-1510999888 Jul 05, 2017 02:32 PM
Op Ed: General Conscious Consumerism

I understand your concerns. I just don't think they're directed at an appropriate target. They've done a LOT to address issues. Patagonia's own, internal audits turned up the abuse. Hope you take time to read the article: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/patagonia-labor-clothing-factory-exploitation/394658/ https://www.inc.com/anna-hensel/patagonia-pledges-to-implement-higher-standards-in-factories.html https://sourcingjournalonline.com/patagonia-releases-new-standards-slave-labor-supply-chain/

a-1510999888 Jul 05, 2017 02:24 PM
Op Ed: General Conscious Consumerism

I would appreciate it if you would include backup documentation for your claims. I found the sheep complaint was from PETA in 2015, I think (their article is undated). https://investigations.peta.org/ovis-lamb-slaughter-sheep-cruelty/ Patagonia was very responsive to PETA's expose, and to one in 2011: https://www.outsideonline.com/2008416/what-patagonia-has-say-about-horrifying-peta-video

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