If you only read one book this year, read "Let My People Go Surfing"

patagonia dams let my people go surfing

I found out about Patagonia's brand philosophy through Alli Cherry's vlogs. I've heard of the brand before, but I had no idea about the awesome values they stand and fight for. After listening to a podcast with founder Yvon Chouinard, I was blown away. This man had so much to say. So, I picked up his book (with the very awesome title) "Let My People Go Surfing"

 

I know, book recommendations are a bit lame. But the book, the company Patagonia, is a game changer. (A real one!)

 
Yvon Chouinard forging away in his blacksmith shop. (Still today.)

Yvon Chouinard forging away in his blacksmith shop. (Still today.)

It tells Yvon's story from an outdoor adventurer, who forges his own pitons to the founder of (probably) the most ethically correct clothing company in the world. 

Patagonia commits to donate 1% of their total sales or 10% of their profit, whichever is greater, to grassroot environmental groups. Every year, no matter what. It's like en "environmental tax" for doing business on this planet and, inevitably, using its resources.

Of course, they meet all the typical corporate responsibility standards like having a traceable supply chain, being fair trade certified, being a member of the Fair Labor Association, sourcing organic cotton - since the early 1990s! -. Etc. etc. (The company has been a pioneer in so many areas of the outdoor clothing industry!)

 

But why stop here?

Patagonia's commitment with the environment is so deep, they actually tell you NOT to buy their products. 

This "ad" appeared on 2011 in The New York Times.

The company's philosophy is to buy only what you need, repair what you have, find ways to reuse things and recycle when it's truly time. They provide you with a guide of how to repair their clothes and they will even do it for you in their stores.

Patagonia is also working on regenerative farming practices to repair the food system. Because why not? If you advocate for sustainability, you might as well look into all the fields that are relevant. After all, everything is connected. 

One of Patagonia's repair centers.

One of Patagonia's repair centers.

I know this whole post sounds like a big fat Patagonia ad *lol*, but I'm honestly deeply impressed with this company. It shows that doing business differently is possible. Their goal is not to grow and grow and grow, going public, sell out and then retire, but to use the company as a vehicle of doing good.

Yvon defines evil as the absence of good (I think Christian theology also does, but let's not be pedantic here): if you have the ability, the resources and the opportunity to do good and do nothing, that can be evil.

The book goes into so much more detail about doing business ethically, about successes and failures. I was even surprised Yvon is that open about it. There is also an awesome New Yorker article on Yvon Chouinard and his story. It's actually a very good summary of the book. (In case you want to do something good for the environment and not buy yet another thing. ;))