Purpose (and planet) beyond profit with Dane O’Shanassy of Patagonia

Purpose (and planet) beyond profit with Dane O'Shanassy of Patagonia - Episode 145 of The Slow Home Podcast

As someone who espouses simplicity and buying only what we need, I have an uneasy relationship with the idea of capitalism. But as a business-owner, a traveller and someone who does indeed purchase things on occasion, I recognise that I take part in a capitalist society on the daily.

During a conversation with Carolyn Tate back in September last year, I was introduced to the idea of conscious capitalism, in which for-profit organisations are making capitalism stand for something good – for people, for the environment or for social change. It was also through Carolyn that I was introduced to my guest today – Dane O’Shanassy of Patagonia.

If you’ve listened to the poggie for any length of time, you’ve probably heard Ben and I talk about Patagonia and how impressed we are with their commitment to ethical manufacturing and the environment. Founded by climbers, surfers, skiiers, mountaineers and explorers, Patagonia is a company that loves nature and wants to protect it.

They actively discourage people from buying new clothes unless they’re needed, and have in-store repair stations where you can have your Patagonia gear fixed for free. They distribute 1% of sales (not profits) every year in to grass-roots campaigns, and are highly engaged both as a company and individuals in environmental activism. They’re currently transitioning to 100% Fair Trade and are one of the most transparent companies I’ve ever come across, both in terms of supply chain and business management. In fact, founder Yvon Chouinard’s book ‘Let My People Go Surfing’ is basically the blueprint on which Ben and I are trying to build our own business.

Ben and I travelled down to Torquay a couple of weeks ago to chat with Dane, and while we do talk about the work Patagonia is doing both here in Australia and globally, we also focus on his personal journey towards a more sustainable, simple life. As a surfer, Dane loves being outdoors, and he and I share a similar philosophy on the best way to get people to actually care about the environment: spend time in it.

This is a great conversation that doesn’t shy away from the tension that exists between environmental protection and manufacturing, and also left me feeling hopeful for the possibilities that come when people turn their passion in to action (and activism!)


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61 Responses to Purpose (and planet) beyond profit with Dane O’Shanassy of Patagonia

  1. Sounds incredible. Can’t wait to give this one a listen. Very interesting!

    On a side note I’m reading In Praise of slow based on your rec. So good!!

  2. Great podcast today, I loved hearing more about Patagonia’s ethics. I’ll be checking them out when I next need some outdoors clothing.
    I’d love the books and happy to pass on to another poggie listener after I’m done with them :)

  3. Hello! I was quite excited to see this podcast pop up, as I’m a big fan of Patagonia’s business model.
    Would love to read the books, and pass them on to someone else to read once I’m finished :)

  4. I was so (pleasantly) surprised by this week’s epidsode, not having known much about patagonia/conscious capitalism before it! Happy also to read the books before/after others! :)

  5. This podcast did not dissapoint my adulation for Patagonia. A beautiful honest conversation that encapsulates a company’s great mindset & strategy to bring more and give more than the typical commercial retail franchise. Didn’t want it to end, loved it!! Thank you!

  6. Hi Brooke and Ben! I only found your show a few months ago but I love it and look forward to your episodes every week. Thanks for all the helpful ideas, suggestions, encouragement and laughter. I live near Chicago and can’t wait until your book is released in the US!

  7. Ive been listening to the podcast for awhile and I love it! The episode was great and when im in the market for new gear I will definitely check out Patagonia!

  8. I would love to have these books! I’ve been listening to your podcast since the beginning from Southern California! Thanks for all you contribute!

  9. This is fantastic – can’t wait to listen. Fellow lover of Patagonia and as an entrepreneur, these books would be perfect. Like others have said, I’m sure I’ll read them either way, but the giveaway would be grand!

  10. got sent this by my brother, so first time listening to you guys. i’m now really pumped to listen to your other podcasts. i too am an unashamed patagonia fan and love that you are spreading the word of what an amazing brand and company they are.

  11. This is so timely for me :) I have been doing so much research into social enterprises as I think that what I would like to do with my life… ideas forming! Haven’t read the books from Patagonia so would love to enter. Love you guys! X

  12. Such a fine line is trodden by those who run a business yet want to lead a mindful, minimalist and honest life. Your work has been so inspriring, my little business and my family life has changed by osmosis, due to my listening to these extraordinary lives lead by ordinary yet very special people. Keep it coming! Naomi Crowther – full time artist, mum, wife, woman, earth respector, business woman, salesperson, cook, gardener, human.

  13. Wow! This poggie couldn’t have come at a better time! my husband has a fishing business and is very passionate about catch and release fishing and if you take – only taking enough for a feed. I’ve just bought him Let my people go surfing for his birthday so hopefully he isn’t reading this. I know that he would LOVE to read these other two books! Off to listen to the podcast now.

  14. Just finished listening to the podcast. Thanks for sharing- I had heard of Patagonia before but didn’t really know a lot of details about their mission. Now I know where to look for jackets for our trip to Canada (white Chistmas!) later this year!! What really struck me though was the ‘repair’ policy. I’ve been looking into the impact of the garment industry a lot lately and personally have made it my mission this year to repair my clothes first, go without second or buy second-hand or as ethically as possibly as a third option. I buy everything for our family of 4 so feel very responsible for our impact on the environment and each week make small changes to help reduce our footprint. Last week, I went through everyone’s wardrobes and came away with a tiny (in comparison to usual) list of what we need to buy, a massive pile to take up to the seamstress to repair and a new stack of cleaning rags and tissues (never occurred to me old tshirts could be repurposed as handkerchiefs!) Your Podcast has been part of the motivation to make change in our lives.

  15. Love the podcast and also the things you’ve said about Patagonia. I first heard the podcast on qantas and have since listened to every episode ☺

  16. Loving listening to your podcast and I love the Patagonia company! Currently saving up to buy a pair of Nudie Jeans too! Thanks for all of your efforts making these podcasts! :)

  17. I am usually a quiet but loyal listener of the poggy, so admittedly the lure of the books has me commenting today (what can I say, I’m an English teacher!). So many things in today’s podcast moved me, it’s hard to pinpoint just one thing I’d like to say. I’m just going to thank you for inspiring me to drive to the Dandenongs tomorrow to get out into nature. Happy Friday!

  18. I have only recently come across your podcast. And I’m literally obsessed. It has already helped me make so many positives towards slow living. I live as an expat in a mega city ( Istanbul) so life is never simple. I had been craving it terribly. So thank you for putting on this show every week! Oh yeah, being a mom of little ones, I especially loved Dr. Caulson’s episode. I gleaned so much from that. Oh and the one about vinegar. :) Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  19. Loved hearing about Patagonia and their commitment to the environment. Thanks for inspiring me to make some changes in my life!

  20. I love Patagonia and have worked freelance for them. They totally practice what they preach. One day while I was in-house the creative director came in and mentioned to his staff the surf was up and he was heading out if anyone else wanted to join. Most of the staff got up and went. They had extra surf boards for those who might want to grab one and give it go. If I ever go back to working full time I’d love to work for them.

    Thanks Slow Your Home, love the podcast and am an avid fan!

  21. How inspiring. I love the whole approach to minimising consumption by making things built to last, and repairable, and I’d be particularly interested in seeing how some more of this thinking could apply to other businesses and not for profits. And – in my line of work – how we can work more effectively within the government sector to work collectively towards a less wasteful and more environmentally appreciative future. Frankly, all the books sound fascinating (and I have many to pass them on to) but if I’m not the winner. Otherwise I’ll look forward to borrowing them :-)

  22. I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast. Particularly liked Patagonia’s purpose statement. Very inspiring. Great conversation.
    Only got into podcasts recently and this was the first one of yours I have listened to. Will definitely be subscribing!

  23. Definitely one of my fave episodes as I’ve consciously minimised purchasing products in general partially clothing. The fast fashion and disposable world we live in does not sit well with me. Thanks for this episode. Loved it.

  24. I just purchased a backpack and hat from Patagonia–I actually didn’t even realize their awesome business model! As if I wasn’t stoked about my purchase already.

  25. Hi Brooke, Kat from Perth here, I hope you are well :) Thanks so much for this podcast and for talking about the topic of conscious capitalism. I totally agree – capitalism is part of the system we are in and therefore to make social change we need to encourage and support organisations that are making these sorts of shifts. This conversation has reminded me that anything is possible and of my passion for social impact. Thank you!

  26. I first found out about patagonias awesome environmental platform when I was in Prague and the waterproofing on my old raincoat started chipping off. I went in to Patagonia and saw some of their awesome jackets and then saw a bin up the back of the shop that you could recycle your old clothes there.
    I was stoked with this because I hate throwing things out and this way it got a new life and I got a new Patagonia jacket that I have now had for several years.
    Loved isn’t ending to Dane.
    Thanks for your podcast guys!

  27. Wow what a gorgeous conversation. As a Montessori teacher it resonated with our “rules” of “dont hurt yourself, anyone else or the environment”. I love that companies are starting to shift their philosophies and work for the bigger picture. I have always liked Patagonia products but i am viewing them very differently now and will be happy to consciously shop with them.
    Thanks also for your wonderful podcasts they are a real height light of my week and I love hearing from so many like minded people. With so much grim news these days its lovely to hold on to the hope of knowing there are so many people doing great things :)
    Keep up the good work xx

  28. I’d love to read this book! I have two sick kids home today so listening to this podcast while cuddled up on the couch sounds like a good plan for the day.

  29. Very much enjoyed this interview. Thank you for your fantastic choice of guests – I learn something from each and every episode.

  30. What an inspiring discussion. My 13 year listened with me – he is a keen surfer and loves the ocean. He made me promise to leave a comment to try and win the books for him to read;-) Great that he was so inspired – thank you!

  31. This was a great interview! I chair a new committee at our church that is focused on sustainability / care for the earth. It’s great to continue to educate myself as well as others so we can all care for the earth and it’s inhabitants. Would love a copy of any of these books. Thanks!

  32. I would love to support Patagonia but do not need any more clothes! I find I get quite good wear out of my clothes, and as I haven’t changed much since high school, a lot of my clothes from 10 years ago still fit and are worn regularly. As the daughter of a seamstress I always try to see if there is a way I can mend stuff before discarding it. My big project for this year is to turn all the sentimental old t shirts that I no longer wear (from bands/shows I’ve seen, places I’ve been etc) and turn them into a quilt so I can get even more life out of them!

    I would also love to know if anyone has found a good place to purchase ethical bras. I find they are the clothing item i go through the most, and the elastic wears out long before anything else. I heard Tuffy and Tuffetts was good but I didn’t get a reply after emailing them about their sizing (and I’ve heard they aren’t great at answering correspondence) and so I’m having second thoughts. Alternatively any suggestions about fixing/re-elasticising elastic would be great!

    Ps. I think those books sound like a great read!

  33. Wow, far from a sell-fest this was an inspiring, open and honest conversation sharing the passion and value of a brand that truly wants and is making a difference to both the planet and our people. Be the change, be the example, live simply! Thank you so much for sharing, now I am off to find out more about Patagonia…

  34. Greetings from Sweden! I would love a copy of the book! Although my company is a company of one, I really try to think about letting my people (i.e. me) go surfing :) A slow life isn’t a life without passion and I love my work -which really is divided into many different things – my family, our dog, running long distance, my garden…

  35. Through your podcast, as well as The Minimalists and Dirt Bag Diaries, I was well aware of Patagonia and its responsible business ethos. I did not, however, realise that the Australian/NZ arm of the company was also doing so much to support sustainability projects through its grants system here. Thanks Patagonia for leading the way.

  36. I really enjoyed this podcast–I have always been a bit wary about conscious capitalism, but this interview and the one with Carolyn Tate have opened my eyes a little more and has helped me distinguish between it and ideas like “greenwashing”. Our family is on a low income, so a lot of our clothing will continue to come from charity shops and be homemade, but one day a beautiful Patagonia jacket would be awesome! Until then, I hope I can win these books and share them with people around me. Thanks for the great work you do educating us all!

  37. This was a great podcast Brooke. I really like that they keep their prices lower to be competitive with other brands but at the detriment of their profit. It sounds like the company really care about their impact on the world and it’s very refreshing.

  38. Hello from Estonia! I enjoyed this show a lot and would like to learn more about the philosophy behind Patagonia. I’d be happy to give the books a second life after reading them, as I do with all my books.

  39. Hello from Calgary, Canada! Loved the episode and definitely inspired me to seek more socially conscious brands like Patagonia.

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