$20 Million and Change, the venture fund set up for outdoor clothing company Patagonia, has invested more than $1 million in Beyond Surface Technologies (BST), a Swiss company that works to reduce the impact of textile chemicals on the environment. Phil Graves, who oversees the Patagonia fund, notes BST does not “use synthetic, petroleum-based chemicals for their textile finishings. They use natural substances.”
While Patagonia, based in Ventura, Calif., claims to be one of the most progressive, environmentally committed American companies, it also contributes to environmental problems it seeks to alleviate. For example, the current process of water proofing for performance clothing, like Patagonia’s rain jackets, involves some harmful chemicals.
A recent Patagonia innovation is an earth-friendly wetsuit that’s 60 percent plant-based bio-rubber that uses a cleaner process than the one used to make neoprene, which is the usual material used for wetsuits. Although the bio-based wetsuit is thinner and just as warm as neoprene, it’s about four times more expensive than a neoprene suit from a competing brand.
Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario says the company entered the wetsuit market before it had an environmentally friendly alternative, “so that we have a voice in the market.”
Photo and video: Patagonia