Yvon Chouinard is trying to do the right thing. He’s the reluctant businessman who started, and still owns, the Patagonia clothing company. But his real concern is what’s happening to the Earth.
Some good quotes:
Well, the reason why we won’t face up to our problems with the environment is that we’re the problem. It’s not the corporations out there, it’s not the governments, it’s us. We’re the ones telling the corporations to make more stuff, and make it as cheap and as disposable as possible. We’re not citizens anymore. We’re consumers. That’s what we’re called. It’s just like being an alcoholic and being in denial that you’re an alcoholic. We’re in denial that each and every one of us is the problem. And until we face up to that, nothing’s going to happen. So, there’s a movement for simplifying your life: purchase less stuff, own a few things that are very high quality that last a long time, and that are multifunctional.”
What they don’t realize is that I’m not in the business to make clothes. I’m not in the business to make more money for myself, for Christ’s sake. This is the reason Patagonia exists — to put into action the recommendations I read about in books to avoid environmental collapse. That’s the reason I’m in business — to try to clean up our own act, and try to influence other companies to do the right thing, and try to influence our customers to do the right thing. So we’re not going to change. They can go buy from somewhere else if they don’t like it.
In my own life, I’m trying to simplify everything, which is the hardest thing you can try to do. It’s so easy to complicate your life, it’s so hard to simplify it. We’re constantly being pulled toward complexity rather than simplicity. And I think that’s really wrong. I fight that all the time. But it has to start with each and every one of us to make change in our lives. It’s up to each individual to lead an examined life.
Forget about the end result. It means nothing. The end result is we die. What matters is the process. The process is everything.
…it’s always been difficult for us to lead an examined life as a corporation. I’ve always felt like a company has the responsibility to not wait for the government to tell it what to do, or to wait for the consumer to tell it what to do, but as soon as it finds out it’s doing something wrong, stop doing it.
I knew Man was doomed when I realized that his strongest inclination was toward ever-increasing homogeneity—which goes completely against Nature. Nature moves toward ever-increasing diversity. Diversity is Nature’s strength. Nature loves diversity.
Adversity is what causes organisms to change and adapt. It’s the catalyst for evolution. Take away adversity and evolution stops. And what do you have then? Devolution: America.
I say the last 10 percent of the way to perfection takes so much of your life that it isn’t worth the effort. This overzealous attitude is what creates religious fanatics, body Nazis, and athletes who are exceedingly dull to converse with.
In surfing there are very few ways to cheat. Tow-in surfing was one way to cheat, but that’s passé now. So I think it’s the purest sport there is, and the most difficult too. I don’t know of any other sport that’s more difficult than surfing.
I’d much rather design and sell products so good and unique that they have no competition.
The more you know, the less you need.
You learn that how you got there was what’s important. Not what you accomplished.
The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex. What’s important is leading an examined life.
Going back to a simpler life based on living by sufficiency rather than excess is not a step backward.