Yvon Chouinard, social entrepreneur and founder of Patagonia, a company that sells climbing equipment and clothing, is pessimistic about the future. In the U.S.A., “Saving the planet” is number 41 on the list of priorities; number one is “Personal security.” “The problem is us,” he says. When we buy stuff, we are closing our eyes to toxic substances used in the production process that harm the people who handle them and pollute the air, the soil, and the water. We don’t get to see the whole chain of destruction, and therefore, it does not exist. Low prices come at a price! In this case, our health and the living environment of animals, plants, crops, trees and our own.
Patagonia has a different philosophy than most companies. The goal is not unlimited growth and revenues. Their mission is to change the world through business. Their shareholders are the animals, the mountains, nature, and people. Chouinard can’t save the planet on his own, but he uses his company to do something. “To do good, you actually have to do something” is a quote he likes to use. Meaning that every person is responsible for the situation on our planet. We are causing unnecessary harm to the environment because we want to pay low prices, and we are very reluctant to ensure the sustainability and the longevity of products.
By doing the best he can to run a sustainable company, he’s able to sleep at night. Patagonia uses only organic cotton for their clothing. They have researched all of their chains of supply (the best that is humanly possible), and they even advise their customers to fix their own clothes rather than buying new ones. To demonstrate that another kind of business is possible, Chouinard wrote a few books (“Let my people go surfing,” “The responsible company,” and “The sustainable economy”) and he pledges 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of nature.
He has managed to spread this initiative, One Percent For The Planet, to other companies as well.”I knew that I would never be happy playing by the normal rules of business. I wanted to distance myself as far as possible from those pasty-faced corpses in suits I saw in airline-magazine ads. If I had to be a businessman, I was going to do it on my own terms.” Yvon Chouinard
Patagonia’s success has rapidly increased alongside the development of even more resistant materials with an even lower environmental impact. Despite its exponential growth, with a turnover of about 600 million dollars in 2014, the philosophy that led Chouinard to found the brand hasn’t changed.
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