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!)