I believe in living simply and minimizing consumption, and yet I work in advertising and marketing. I struggle with this conflict, but after a few go-arounds in my head I rationalize my job with Road Runner Sports because we encourage people to be fit and live healthfully. Not a bad thing, right? Light years better than marketing for Halliburton.
In any case, this is one of the reasons I respect Patagonia. Yes, they’re a business. Yes, they are profitable. Yes, they create a LOT of products. Yes, they are well on their way to becoming a billion dollar company. BUT, they try their damnedest to minimize their impact and act like they’re much more than just a business. AND a billion dollar company with an environmental and social conscience is a hell of lot better than one without.
Case in point: Patagonia’s August 2015 catalog. For years, their catalog has been more of a branding piece versus a pure selling tool. You frequently find full page stories and full spread photos with a few products scattered throughout. In this way, they inspire you to buy rather than sell you to buy. And it works.
But, Patagonia has pushed even their own boundaries with this latest catalog. You open it up to a full page story by founder Yvon Chouinard, followed by a 19-page photo essay about the American prairie, followed by 23 pages of even more photo essays. You’ll find 3 products in the entire 48-page catalog, one of which is buffalo jerky.
People make fun of Patagonia for making expensive products and because you see hipster families decked out in the stuff. (Of course, the ones making fun of those families have a few pieces of Patagonia in their own closets.) But, the fact remains these guys do so much more than sell pricey products (that last for years, by the way). They initiate conversation, pour money into environmental causes, and promote community. This is more in-line with the way small business was run pre-industrial-age. It’s exciting to see this company evolve into a wave-making commercial force to be reckoned with. Very exciting.