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Patagonia Spending $1M to Get Out the Green Vote

“The activist company” Patagonia is making donations, hosting events and stressing the importance of local- and state-level voting in a $1 million push to combat apathy and ‘get out the green vote.’

The campaign will encourage voters in the 17 states where Patagonia operates to cast their ballots for candidates who support strong environmental policies, the company told The Huffington Post. Two events will be hosted in each of Patagonia’s 29 stores across the United States; one on this Tuesday, September 27 to mark National Voter Registration Day, and another in October featuring voting resources and reading material from its partner organizations. The stores will provide guides outlining the environmental stances of each region’s candidates and ballot measures.

“We are very concerned that the ugliness and the divisiveness of this election has left voters feeling disenfranchised with politics, and they might sit this one out,” Patagonia’s vice president of environmental activism Lisa Pike Sheehy told The Huffington Post in a phone interview. “It’s imperative that this doesn’t happen.”

“There’s so much emphasis right now being focused on the presidential office,” she added. “You’ve got scores of elections happening ― at the mayoral level, the state level, in the Senate ― that are equally if not more important to how communities are going to address climate change.”

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The apparel company has funded get-out-the-vote campaigns in both midterm and general elections since 2004, but the $1 million investment in this year’s “Vote Our Planet” campaign is its largest yet. Patagonia has refused to support either presidential candidate and insists that the campaign is nonpartisan.

At the same time, the Republican Party’s active denial of the scientific consensus around human-driven climate change is in complete contrast to Patagonia’s embedded commitments to environmental and social causes. According to data collected by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets project, Patagonia last contributed to a Republican campaign in 1990 (with a whopping $500 donation), and since then, has contributed a total of $51,122 to Democratic campaigns and under $9,465 to other political campaigns.

As for donations to non-profit organizations, this year the Ventura, Calif.-based company is contributing $200,000 to grassroots campaign group NextGen Climate and New York-based HeadCount, a nonprofit that registers voters at concerts and musical events. Patagonia has not disclosed how the rest of the $1 million will be spent.

“At the end of the day, we want to elect leaders at the state, local and national level that will work for the health of the planet,” Pike Sheehy said. “There’s nothing more critical that’s facing our communities all the way up to the global scale. We have to hold our elected officials accountable on it.”


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