Let My People Go Surfing
If you're wondering what to read next - read this.
I've just finished "Let My People Go Surfing" by Yvon Chouinard and it's a great read and inspirational. My ignorance meant that I knew Patagonia as a 'quality' outdoor clothing manufacturer, however, I had no idea of its roots and the extent of its environmental philosophy and activism.
Thanks Mikey in Loose Fit for recommending it one day. I strolled aimlessly in and he immediately said "I know what you've come in for."
"Eh? Er...what?" I asked.
"This..." he said as he took me dynamically across the shop floor and slapped a copy of Yvon Chouinard's book into my hands. I didn't buy it that moment - but soon after.
The book describes how Yvon Chouinard came to found Patagonia. He talks about his upbringing, his getting into climbing, manufacturing and then (reluctantly) business. The core of the book is about Patagonia's philosophy as a manufacturer that puts quality and harming the enviroment as little as possible first. Patagonia has put millions of dollars into enviromental concerns and activism as well as making their working environment as 'human' as possible: with children and nurseries on site, flexible working hours so their employees can go surfing when the wind is offshore & the tide's right and organic foods and china mugs in the canteen.
The book chronicles their successes and failures, highs and lows, their pioneering use of organic cotton and how the company nearly went under in the mid-seventies due to a run of defective 'rugby' shirts. One of the main focuses is how Patagonia will go to great lengths (and costs) to do what they think is right rather than be driven by economy. That said, Chouinard constantly stresses that all of his environmentally based decisions have turned out profitable.
This book is a combination of biography and business model but will be interesting to anyone - as we are all consumers - and even more so to those with more than a passing interest in nature and the future of our planet. As a result of reading this book I will be signing my little computer graphic business up to 1% For the Planet and donating to Surfers Against Sewage. (And I would suggest that other business owners, however small, do the same.)
Any jacket manufacturer who says your first consideration when purchasing a new jacket should be 'do I really need a new jacket?' has got to be good.