Patagonia is well known as a bold supporter of worldwide environmental causes and they are a longtime supporter of Watershed Watch Salmon Society. We spoke with Zac Elik, marketing manager and team lead of Patagonia Vancouver, about why giving is a cornerstone of Patagonia’s business model.
“Patagonia’s mission statement is “
‘We’re in business to save our home planet’,” says Zac. ” We support innovative work that addresses the root cause of the environmental crisis and seeks to protect both the environment and the affected communities.”
“We believe in the local battles to protect a specific strand of forest or a stretch of river or an indigenous wild species. Even though we are a clothing company we use business as a tool to support all of these causes, instead of just using business as a way to make money.”
Zac has worked for Patagonia for over four years, first starting at Patagonia Toronto. He says his passion for the outdoors was fostered during his childhood in Ontario.
“Each summer, we would go on long-term, self-supported, canoe excursions through Algonquin Park. When it comes to my connection with nature, wild places, biodiversity, fish, animals, everything across the board, it shaped me. I held those canoe trips close to me for a long time.”
Through his work at Patagonia, Zac was able to build upon these interests and dive deeper into environmental and conservation work.
“I have definitely developed a passion for protecting these places. Patagonia has really opened up different ways for me to take action. ”
Zac says he and his team participate in Patagonia’s charitable giving decisions.
“At the retail grant level, all employees —whether you’re a part-time employee who works once a week or you’re a full-time employee on a salary— get to take part in the grant meeting to decide where money is donated at a local level.”
The implications of COVID-19 mean that gift-giving and the holidays are bound to look different this year, and has a suggestion for people who are choosing to forego shopping and physical gift-giving.
“Patagonia calls it “giving through donation. It’s a way to give someone the opportunity to contribute to their community and to help invest in the future they want to see in the world.”