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No Patagonia, I did not buy that jacket
#88 | Be the change you seek in the world
My Just One Thing for today is quite a detour from my usual, and it’s all Yvon Chouinard’s fault.
Yesterday he made me cry.
I woke up to the news he had given Patagonia away.
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This is a bigger deal than most people realise because Chouinard is a first-generation wealth creator. The urge to leave something behind for the kids is strong in all wealthy folk, more so in first-generation millionaires. But then Chouinard’s adult children, shareholders in the company, also embody the notion that every billionaire is a policy failure. [sidenote I ❤️AOC].
Patagonia has been experimenting with ethical business models ever since Chouinard started the company in 1973. They’ve set every standard on meaningful corporate sustainability – showing businesses everywhere how it can and should be done. They make products from recycled materials. They’ve contributed at least 1% of annual sales to preserving the natural environment since 1986. Their famous anti-consumerism ad in the New York Times on Black Friday pointedly discouraged people from buying from them. And it wasn’t even a marketing gimmick.
But my favourite of all Patagonia initiatives is their Worn Wear program, through which customers and Patagonia take “mutual responsibility to extend the life of the products Patagonia makes and customers purchase”. Fast fashion comes at a horrendous cost to the planet and exploits the very people slaving to make our clothes. WRAP says using our clothes for just nine months longer reduces the related water, waste and carbon footprint by 20% to 30% each.
For a capitalist to make such an irrevocable commitment to their ideals is inspiring. But then, Chouinard has never really been a real capitalist.
All you have to do is read “Let my people go surfing” to know how singularly unique he is. May his fellowship grow.