Petagonia: Can they Agree?

Josiah analyzed the disconnect between Patagonia’s mission and some of its actions. Specifically, he looked at the Peta’s investigation into Patagonia’s “sustainable wool” suppliers at Ovis 21. The video, we can all agree, is very difficult to watch and makes you question how Patagonia allows this to happen. Now, in response to this investigation, Patagonia has apologized for their involvement with Ovis 21 and has taken action to ensure that the company changes it practices. However, Patagonia does continue to delve deeper into the wool supply chain, which was not the response Peta wanted. Peta does not believe in the use of animals for any human purpose, “a belief we respect but do not share” says Patagonia.

Through discussions in 2014, Patagonia was able to make some changes with Ovis 21 and also shared some information on the humane practices, in which, the company does participate. The article attached above mentions a few examples, such as no mulesing, no live exportation, no antibiotics or hormones are used, sheep are bred in natural grasslands, and castration and tail docking, industry standard practices that promote responsible flock management and hygiene, are done at an early age with techniques designed to minimize pain. However, in 2015, Patagonia dropped Ovis 21 as their wool supplier. Patagonia’s CEO, Rose Marcario said:

We took some important steps to protect animals in partnering with Ovis 21, but we failed to implement a comprehensive process to assure animal welfare, and we are dismayed to witness such horrifying mistreatment…In light of this, we’ve made a frank and open-eyed assessment of the Ovis program. Our conclusion: it is impossible to ensure immediate changes to objectionable practices on Ovis 21 ranches, and we have therefore made the decision that we will no longer buy wool from them. This is a difficult decision, but it’s the right thing to do.”

I feel that this is the best thing that Patagonia could have done during this situation. In order to preserve its reputation, which is arguably the most important part of the company, it must find a new supplier that holds animal welfare to a very high standard. Peta will still criticize Patagonia because it believes that cruelty is integral to wool production. Patagonia’s mission now is to prove Peta wrong, and I hope Patagonia is able to do this, because animal cruelty is heart wrenching and I really admired Patagonia as a company, until this exposure.

I want to acknowledge one of Josiah’s comments on his original Patagonia blog post. Josiah said, “can anyone have clean hands in an industry like this?” and I wonder if this is true myself. Peta says no, and Patagonia thinks otherwise. I’m curious as to what my audience believes. Do you agree with Peta or Patagonia? If you agree with Patagonia, what would you want to see from the company in order to feel as though no harm is being done to the sheep. For example, would you want them washed on a weekly basis? Would you want someone to audit the suppliers on a monthly basis? Would you want to see them use different procedures to remove the wool from the sheep? Please share.



4 thoughts on “Petagonia: Can they Agree?

  1. I think you do raise a lot of valid points, on of which is that Patagonia did a good job firing the supplier. This was an essential move to main their brand image to the high level that we expect from them. I believe that they could take this move even further by using one of your suggestions which is to send audits out to check in the suppliers. This could be done in a random time basis, so the suppliers are not tempted to perform better when they know they’re going to be checked.


  2. It’s tough to reconcile what PETA wants completely, as wool is renewable, and does not necessitate cruel treatment when shearing (I’ve thought many times of raising sheep myself), but I do think that the pressure they’re applying made a good company better. What I wonder about are the consequences of breaking ties with Ovis 21. Are they going to just continue with such treatment or worse to supply less ethical companies? I wonder whether the sheep actually benefit from our demands that they break ties, and Patagonia obliging, and I wonder about teh livelihood of the employees at Ovis 21.


  3. @josiahhannahI am interested to see what Patagonia’s next move will be as well. Who are their wool suppliers at the moment? After this incident, I doubt that Patagonia’s next supplier will be less ethical and and Patagonia will do what it can to ensure that people know the sheep are well taken care of. However, only time will tell. @dck007 I think thats a good idea with the random audits, that is something I would like to see as well.


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