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The Responsible Economy

Current Campaign

The Responsible Economy

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.

The Responsible Economy The Responsible Economy
by Yvon Chouinard
We at Patagonia are mandated by our mission statement to face the question of growth, both by bringing it up and by looking at our own situation as a business fully ensnared in the global industrial economy.
The Elephant in the Room The Elephant in the Room
by Rick Ridgeway
By 2050, our planet will be 300-500 percent beyond its capacity to renew itself. You don’t need an MBA to know that’s bankruptcy.
Break the Rules & Make It Work Break the Rules & Make It Work
An Interview with Yvon Chouinard by Sophie McKibben
The Parable of the Iron Pan The Parable of the Iron Pan
by Bob Massie
Hick-onomy Hick-onomy
Here's to the good new days.

Common Threads Partnership

The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned From Patagonia’s First 40 Years by Yvon Chouinard & Vincent Stanley
The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 40 Years, by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley
Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia, and Vincent Stanley, co-editor of its Footprint Chronicles, draw on their 40 years' experience at Patagonia – and knowledge of current efforts by other companies – to articulate the elements of responsible business for our time.