Blog #9 James Seals. The transportation and distribution of products is generally viewed as a business activity where the ultimate goal is to minimize these activities costs, insuring greater profitability. But when reflecting upon the vast amount of regions in the world that are impacted by the effects of international trade and distribution more than the bottom line comes into play. The garment industry is one that heavily relies on trade and transportation. The supply chain of the garment industry is complex and often requires multiple stages of transportation. Each phase of the transportation process takes its toll on the environment due to the amounts of carbon released into the atmosphere and the required infrastructure to support its use. The amount of transportation needed each year to support our global economy has played a large role in climate change and environmental degradation. These two problems directly affect people living in rural poverty and it is these individuals who are responsible for producing the materials required to make our clothing. International trade also affects the wages these rural farmers earn each year since large farming operations funded by corporations lower the market rate for raw materials. When large farms over saturate the market with raw materials small rural farmers are not able to harvest enough crops to earn a profit suitable to support their livelihood.
Fortunately there are companies like Patagonia that aim to resolve or mitigate social or environmental issues within their supply chain. Although Patagonia is involved in international transportation, with suppliers, manufacturers and distributors around the world, unlike other businesses they create sustainable strategies that mutually benefit all parties in their supply chain. Patagonia does this by developing strong personal relationships with their suppliers and manufacturers. Patagonia recently partnered with Fair Trade USA to ensure rural farmers throughout their supply chain are receiving fair wages for their services. Products sold with fair trade labels are purchased at a guaranteed floor price and receive a social premium. These additional costs are absorbed by retail and wholesale companies and the additional revenue is distributed to communities where the products are originally produced. Fair trade is very unique because it is not based on modifying how goods are produced but instead improves the price producers receive for the products they make. Fair trade is a great system because it allows producers in developing nations to receive fair payment for their work without institutional influence. This lack of influence allows producers to invest their additional earnings the way they desire. They are given the freedom to reinvest their earnings into the betterment of their families, communities and businesses which often results in better quality goods and larger product yields. The fair trade certification not only betters the lives of rural farmers but is better for the planet as well. This is because fair trade certified growers are required to follow internationally monitored environmental standards, empowering farmers with financial incentives and resources for organic conversion, reforestation, water conservation and environmental education.
Patagonia continuously works on improving social conditions and reducing their impact on the environment. In regards to trade, Patagonia goes above and beyond the call of duty to insure that their role in global transportation and trade is not detrimental to the planet or their workers within its supply chain. When Point Loma purchases clothing from Patagonia it insures the use of fair trade practices and supports environmental sustainability.