We at Patagonia, like all business people, know that long-term income has to exceed long-term expense. To do otherwise is to go bankrupt, as Ernest Hemingway described, in the usual two ways: “Gradually, then suddenly.”
Today we are using the equivalent resources of one and a half planets, yet we live on only one. All the indicators of earthly health are in deteriorating: plentiful freshwater, clean air, arable land, robust fisheries and biodiversity. How do we reverse this decline (and accompanying climate change) before it becomes catastrophic?
Most conversations addressing that question hone in on technological solutions. Each year we attend sustainability conferences where the talk centers on innovation as the way to reduce resource use and waste. But at these conferences, among decent people doing their best, there is always an elephant in the room, concealed behind a curtain few are willing to draw to the side. The elephant is growth-based capitalism, and the assumption that a growth economy equals prosperity and a healthy society. This campaign names and confronts the elephant. And it will explore what alternatives look and feel like, from large -scale economies to small, local ones.
We see a growing global dissatisfaction with the way the present economy relies on relentless consumption in order to function, while delivering less social benefit than it promises. At the same time, we see trends toward meaningful change in both large corporate and industrial movements, and innovative, community-minded businesses.
We know we must consume less, and far more slowly – as well as innovate as quickly and ingeniously as we can.
What is a responsible economy? It’s one that cultivates healthy communities, creates meaningful work, and takes from the earth only what it can replenish. It’s one where all the indicators currently going in the wrong direction – CO2 emissions, ocean acidification, deforestation, desertification, species extinction, water contamination, toxic chemical release – all those things that are leading us to bankruptcy, will even out, then reverse. What would make up this economy? Where do we already see examples?
During the next two years, Patagonia will explore these questions. We don't have all the answers - but, we invite you to join us as we seek out the stories, solutions, examples, and new leaders of the responsible economy.
This is the most ambitious and important endeavor we’ve ever undertaken. “Our other environmental campaigns (the depletion of the oceans, pollution of water, obstacles to migration paths for animals) have been about the symptoms of this problem,” said Yvon Chouinard, the founder and owner of Patagonia. “Now we are addressing the core.” Stay tuned.