Changing Business Models

hikers on a mountain

Patagonia’s connection to the wilderness has a big impact on the company’s approach to environmental issues, says Vincent Stanley, vice-president of marketing at Patagonia. Photograph: Daniel Garcia/AFP/Getty Images

From the Guardian‘s Sustainable Business blog:

Patagonia plans global campaign for responsible capitalism

The outdoor clothing and equipment company says we need to develop very different measures of success if we are to prevent environmental collapse

In the true spirit of adventure, mountaineering and surfing company Patagonia reaches one summit and immediately searches for an even tougher peak to climb.

Fresh from taking a pot shot at our consumerist society with its challenging “don’t buy this jacket” advertising campaign, Patagonia now has the whole capitalist system in its crosshairs.

Starting this autumn, the outdoor clothing and equipment company is launching a two-year campaign which will challenge the very foundations of our current system.

Vincent Stanley, who has worked for the company since its inception and is the nephew of founder Yvon Chouinard, says the aim of the responsible economy campaign will be to find new measures of success that do not depend on selling an ever increasing number of goods and services.

Stanley, who recently co-authored a book with Chouinard on the lessons learnt since the company was founded 40 years ago, says: “We are really trying to get a lot of people together to discuss what a more responsible economy would look like, one that is not based upon consumption.

“How do you start to really value and honour what satisfies people as a whole and get away from the idea of shopping as an entertainment or as a kind of compensation for lack of time.”

The word sustainability has been avoided altogether because Stanley says that not even the most progressive of companies has yet found a way of producing goods and services that do not ultimately cause environmental damage.

He illustrates the point by pointing to the item of clothing that was used in the company’s “don’t buy this jacket” adverts, which appeared in the United States on Black Friday, the first day of the Christmas spending frenzy.

While it is durable and 60% recycled, it still costs more than it sells for, given that its manufacture uses enough drinking water for 45 people, generates 20 times its weight in carbon dioxide emissions and two-thirds its weight in scrap.

Stanley likens consumerism to an addiction and that the first step in rehabilitation is to acknowledge there is a problem that needs addressing.

“Our head of environmental initiatives says prosperity tied to growth is the elephant in the room that nobody is really prepared to talk about,” he says. “Certainly businesses would be reluctant to talk about it.

“So I think it’s time to talk about the elephant. I have been meeting with college students as well as customers at Patagonia stores and the response to this is very strong, I think people are looking for a deeper conversation than we have been having about what business should be doing or can be doing.”

Read the full article here.

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  1. Pingback: For Foodie Friends | Raxa Collective

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