Sustainability and Ethical Consumerism: Patagonia Brand


Sustainability refers to the aspect of meeting the needs of human beings without contradicting the ability of future individuals to achieve their needs. In sustainability, there is a need to have social equity, which leads to economic development (Sultan et al., 2020). In an article written by Professor Marylyn Carrigan titled ‘The myth of the ethical consumer- do ethics still matter in purchase behavior,’ the author examines the nature of ethical consumerism. The study was generally conducted on young consumers in the UK to ascertain their perception and traits towards ethical consumption and other responsibilities. This paper presents an application of US clothing brand Patagonia’s real story on sustainability by supporting the need for ethical consumption that ensures sustainability is achieved.

The Real-world Story of Choice on Sustainability

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) presented a real-world story of Patagonia, a clothing firm that maximized sustainability in the market. The company was awarded the United Nations (UN) leading environmental honor for its market goals. The UN recognized the clothing brand for its advocacy to protect the fragile resources on earth (US outdoor clothing brand Patagonia wins UN champions of the earth award, 2019). There were policies set to ensure that sustainability would be a successful theory in the marketing of the company’s clothes.

The company provided money to grassroots organizations to assist in sensitizing the need to have marketing means that would drive sustainability. Almost 70% of Patagonia’s items are made of recycled materials such as plastics, and the objective is to make it 100% renewable materials by the end of 2025 (US outdoor clothing brand Patagonia wins UN champions of the earth award, 2019). According to UNEP, the firm has been key in contributing to a minimum of 1% of annual sales that depict the preservation and conservation of the natural environment. Therefore, by committing to sustainability, consumers will get an example from Patagonia on how to battle the need for ethical consumption in the market.

Understanding of Marketing Theory from the Research within the Journal Article

Sustainability is a recognized issue that drives consumers to think about environmental concerns that may define the ethics of a consumer. For a buyer to tackle social and economic justice, there is a need to capture new behaviors when in the market and productive areas (Carrigan, 2017). Through the various actions to create a sustainable consumer environment, companies would demonstrate and form activist programs the way Patagonia does. Thus, the general requirements call for concern on recycling, reusing, buying less, buying green, and many other factions. There is a reason why the above-mentioned elements are important when it comes to sustainability. The measures drive a longstanding observation on the prevention of scarcity in the future.

Relating the Real-World Story to the Journal Article

The real-world story compliments what the journal article insinuates about the overarching bias on green and environmental matters. Carrigan admits that sustainability is a sensitive issue in marketing, more so due to the consumer buying traits that are influenced by several issues. The goal of sustainability is to create an equitable society in terms of resources that need to be shared in society currently and in the future.

There is a need to have initiatives that drive ethical consumerism, such as mending throwaway products found in places such as junk food serving cafes. (Ayivor, 2019). When such metrics are followed, waste will not be rampant in markets, which means sustainability goals can be achieved effectively (Carrigan, 2017). To achieve that, the marketers and buyers need to form a collaborative base that leads to the pursuance of green innovation, green purchasing, and embracing revolutionary that would criticize the wasteful and non-ethical consumer metrics.

Deeper Insights from the Story and Understanding of Sustainability

In modern society, sustainability is perceived to have the feasibility of promoting ethical consumerism, as shown by the story by UNEP. Therefore, the article’s key points mean can be complemented by the topic of interest in a raft of ways. Tomsa, Romonjti-Maniu, and Scridon (2021) suggest that governments and consumers must form policies that encourage ethical consumption as one way of driving sustainability elements. For instance, several countries have been covered by e-waste legislation and regulation since 2014, and as of 2019, the total number had risen from 61 to 78 (Tomșa, Romonți-Maniu, and Scridon, 2021).

The growth of the e-waste recycling market has been key in ensuring the global concern for sustainability is achieved through ethical consumption. Ethical consumption has increased tremendously as ethically labeled foods’ market value has increased from $793 billion to an estimated $900 billion in 2021 (Tomșa, Romonți-Maniu, and Scridon, 2021). Thus, it means that more businesses have realized the need to have ecological consideration, and human actions have adopted the sustainable principles that are key to the market.

The emergence of ethical consumerism has been affected by key issues that may be complex to implement while trying to reach the goal of sustainability. The consumer decision-making process can be affected by many issues, such as the need to buy items on impulse and the desire to complete human needs at a satisfaction level, among other issues (Jones, 2019). The moments of jostling with the emotions that may be perceived make ethical consumerism to be a hard subject (Lagoarde-Segot, 2020). One way that can combat the self-drive towards ethical buying and consumption is to educate the consumers in many ways.

Getting charged when buying items from malls may define how one will behave. Some people get negligible amounts that they assume can be used to buy unplanned kinds of stuff. Therefore, it may lead to the alteration of various traits that may make it hard to capture (Lander, 2018). It means service provider companies will have to raise the prices as time goes by, which depicts hiked prices in the future (Lizin, Van Dael, and Van Passel, 2017). Therefore, sustainability cannot be achieved effectively if there is the notion that such products are supposed to be offered at higher places.

The story of UNEP on sustainability teaches the members of the public about various issues. There is a need to create a social change that makes people have a balanced methodology in purchasing goods that are offered relatively lower in the markets. In a nutshell, for sustainability to occur as of now, consumers must be enlightened on the importance and key factors that contribute to such changes (Schatzschneider, 2021). The article marks the epitome of a long journey when it comes to combatting scarcity in the market for consumers in the markets in future time.

Sustainability and the Future

The future of sustainability and ethical consumption is determined by a growth mindset and the gross domestic product (GDP) measure in the market. Consumers need to have assistive brands that will enable them to choose wisely when buying products in the market the way Patagonia encourages buyers to do. Partnerships in ethical movements have created a pathway such as Green Network that advocates for sustainable brands in the market (Carrigan, 2017). When waste is reduced, there is a possibility that buyers will be focused on having an ethos in life that depicts balancing of how brands are sustained.

Ethical consumerism must meet eco-awakening by giving consumers the tools to go green as one way to have a sustainable environment that can be productive in the future. The gaps must be filled by technology that guides manufacturing industries on the need to turn to eco-friendly activities (Schulte, Balasubramanian, and Paris, 2021).

For instance, if there is a comprehensive unit in a food production outlet that controls the waste by recycling, The general idea of incorporating ethics and shopping is a concept that needs to be sensitized to all individuals. “If consumers cared about moral issues,” the argument goes, “then companies and brands that did the right thing would have a larger market share…” (Sultan et al., 2020). Thus, it means people must care about issues that call sustainable goals a possibility as one way of bettering shopping in the future.


Ethical consumerism links to sustainable goals in several ways, as the paper has discussed. The paper has focused on the real-world story of Patagonia company which has maximized sustainability in its product making. Examples of ways that show ethics in consumption include recycling, reusing, and sharing, among other issues. The articles used in this paper insinuate that ethical consumerism relates to a possible sustainable development in society. Therefore, consumers, despite the challenges with such modes, need to be educated on how they can have as far as market metrics are concerned. So, sustainability must be undertaken by encouraging ethical consumerism in the market as one way to build a feasible streamlined future.

Reference List

Ayivor, K. (2019). What’s hot: the future of sustainability and ethical consumption. The Drum. Web.

Carrigan, M. (2017). Revisiting ‘The myth of the ethical consumer’: why are we still not ethical shoppers? Journal of Consumer Ethics, 1(1), 11-21.

Jones, E. (2019) ‘Rethinking greenwashing: corporate discourse, unethical practice, and the unmet potential of ethical consumerism’, Sociological Perspectives, 62(5), pp.728-754.

Lagoarde-Segot, T. (2020) ‘Financing the sustainable development goals’, Sustainability, 12(7), p.2775.

Lander, L. (2018) ‘The good life versus consumerism and greed: reaching a better understanding of barriers and motivators for sustainability’, Sustainability: The Journal of Record, 11(2), pp.65-73.

Lizin, S., Van Dael, M., and Van Passel, S. (2017) ‘Battery pack recycling: behaviour change interventions derived from an integrative theory of planned behavior study’, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 122(45), pp.66-82.

Schatzschneider, I. (2021) Ethical consumerism meets ‘eco-awakening’. Social Europe. Web.

Schulte, M., Balasubramanian, S. and Paris, C. (2021). ‘Blood diamonds and ethical consumerism: an empirical investigation’. Sustainability, 13(8), p.4558.

Sultan, P., Tarafder, T., Pearson, D. and Henryks, J. (2020). ‘Intention-behaviour gap and perceived behavioral control-behavior gap in the theory of planned behavior: moderating roles of communication, satisfaction, and trust in organic food consumption. Food Quality and Preference, 81(5), pp.10-38.

Tomșa, M., Romonți-Maniu, A. and Scridon, M. (2021). Is sustainable consumption translated into ethical consumer behavior?’. Sustainability, 13(6), p.3466.

UNEP. 2019. US outdoor clothing brand Patagonia wins UN champions of the earth award. Web.

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