Patagonia to donate record-breaking Black Friday proceeds

The popular outdoor clothing manufacturer announced early last week that 100 percent of its Black Friday sales would go to environmental nonprofits, in what customers dubbed a 'fundraiser for the Earth.'

Rick Bowmer/AP/File
Patagonia employee Tania Bjornlie sets up for the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City on July 30, 2013.

On the Monday before Thanksgiving, Patagonia, a famously green company, announced that all of their profits from Black Friday sales – both in stores and online – would go directly to "grassroots organizations working in local communities to protect our air, water and soil for future generations."

The statement, issued on the company’s website under the tagline, “100 Percent Today, 1 Percent Every Day,” discussed Patagonia's longstanding commitment to reducing their manufacturing footprint, as well as its policy since inception of donating 1 percent of all profits to grassroots environmental organizations – $74 million to date.

The company had predicted $2 million in sales on Black Friday, but instead cleared more than $10 million, shattering previous sales records. On Monday, the company confirmed that all $10 million will go to grassroots environmental organizations, increasing their total giving by more than 13 percent in a single day.

“The enormous love our customers showed to the planet on Black Friday enables us to give every penny to hundreds of grassroots environmental organizations working around the world,” the company announced. “Many of these environmental groups are underfunded and under the radar, and they are overwhelmed with your commitment. On behalf of these activists and every Patagonia employee, we extend a heartfelt thank you to our customers, friends and community worldwide who showed up to #loveourplanet.”

This is not the first time Patagonia has prioritized the environment over their bottom line.

Following Thanksgiving in 2011, Patagonia took out a full-page advertisement in the New York Times with the headline, “Don’t Buy This Jacket,” addressing what they saw as a nationwide issue with consumption and consumerism.

While acknowledging that they are “in business to make and sell products” and that all of their employees' paychecks rely on that, they still pressed consumers to consider their needs as individuals and reduce their impact by refraining from purchasing unnecessarily.

"I've always felt guilty about making consumer things. So I have a sense that it's my responsibility to help people wear them as long as possible," said Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard in an interview with Today. "You hear 'reuse, recycle,' stuff like that. You also have to consider refuse. Refuse to buy something. If you don't need it, don't buy it."

Other outdoor retailers chose other ways to offset the stereotype of Black Friday shopping – a day typically associated with massive crowds and frantic rushes for discounted consumer goods.

For example, REI, a competitor retail chain, chose to skip Black Friday entirely for the second year in a row, keeping stores closed and instead giving all employees a paid day off. The company encouraged both employees and customers to #OptOutside and spend the day after Thanksgiving in the outdoors rather than shopping.

"I was looking at the chaos of Black Friday and how more and more stores were opening on Thanksgiving and it just didn’t feel right," REI chief executive Jerry Stritzke told Business Insider.

"We were blown away by how enthusiastic the response was," Mr. Stritzke said. "Obviously we lost sales on Black Friday, which was a very big day for us, but overall it didn't hurt our trend.”

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