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Sustainability Spotlight: Patagonia + Time To Vote

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We recently connected with sustainable outdoor brand Patagonia to talk about the other thing on everyone’s mind these days: voting. Why? Because the brand co-founded Time To Vote and has partnered with a whole slew of other companies (including outdoor brands like The North Face and Burton) to encourage people like you and me to get out there and vote, but also to encourage companies and brands across the states to give their employees an opportunity to perform their right (and privilege) to play a part in the political process. But what does all that mean and what does voting have to do with the outdoors? J.J. Huggins, part of the public relations and communications team at Patagonia and someone who helps manage Time to Vote filled us in.

TERRADRIFT: What is Time to Vote, anyway?

J.J.: Time to Vote is a nonpartisan, business-led movement where companies pledge to give their employees time and resources to vote in our country’s elections. 

So how is Patagonia getting involved?

Patagonia co-founded Time to Vote with Levi Strauss & Co. and PayPal in 2018. At Patagonia, we’re closing our U.S. stores, distribution center and offices and giving employees a paid day off on election day —Nov. 3— as well as paid time off to serve as poll workers for their local election offices.

You’re giving employees a paid day off and closing all your stores on Nov. 3?! That’s serious!

Voting is the lifeblood of a democracy. It’s a hard-won right, a weighty responsibility and an incredible privilege that too often goes unclaimed in America. The more people who feel empowered to use their voice, the stronger this country will be.

Couldn’t agree more. But this year more folks are reticent to head to the polls for health reasons and are looking into early voting and voting by mail; where can citizens find information on how to do that in their state?

Check out patagonia.com/elections to make a plan to vote and figure out whether you’re going to vote by mail, vote early or vote in person on Nov. 3, and to learn about all the candidates and measures on your ballot. 

That’s super helpful. We’re all about heading to the polls prepared and well-researched! But why is this movement so important to the brand?

Patagonia has been running marketing campaigns to encourage our employees, customers and community to vote since 2004. We have been giving our employees the day off for election day since 2016, and voting and civic engagement are part of our corporate culture. 

We realize not every company operates this way. Research shows one of the reasons people give for not voting is that they didn’t have time. We believe businesses can remove that barrier by giving their employees paid time off to vote. Internally, we have witnessed how beneficial this has been—our employees feel valued not just for their labor, but also for their contributions to society. This year, some Time to Vote companies are giving workers a full paid day off on election day, while some will give a few hours of paid time off. It’s up to each company to decide what works best for their business, employees and customers. 

Given that we’re dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the most important thing we can do right now is ensure our employees and communities have the resources they need to figure out when, where and how they will vote. 

In the long run, this movement is driving a culture shift where more people will cherish their right to vote, therefore increasing voter turnout. 

Well said. So, Patagonia is known as a leader in the sustainability arena, but what does voting have to do with sustainability?

There’s an old saying, “The world is run by those who show up.”  If you want to be an activist—environmental or otherwise—you need to vote. This summer, The Conservation Alliance conducted a poll that found the outdoor community, which consists of 145 million people, is unified in wanting politicians to value environmental issues, yet they lag behind the general population in their likelihood to vote this fall. As a company that’s in business to save our home planet, it’s our responsibility to inspire and implement solutions that make it easier for our community to vote. 

How can outdoorists and environmental advocates help protect outdoor spaces at the polls this year and beyond?

First, please make a plan to vote at patagonia.com/elections. Second, please check out Patagonia Action Works to connect with grassroots environmental nonprofits in your neck of the woods. 

Then get out there and vote this year! Do it for yourself, the country in which you live, and the outdoor spaces and places you love! If you haven’t registered yet, there’s still time! Use the link above or head to USA.gov. But get on it! And wander on!

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