I don’t like the cardboard collars that many coffee shops and tea houses provide for their carry-out containers. I find them annoying- always slipping and not absorbing the heat well enough (Basically not doing their job). The cool thing is I’m not the only one who feels this way. Check out what Scott Amron has designed in the Heatswell. Although it’s still best to bring your own mug or tumbler, I can’t help but be fascinated by this design and handheld art:
Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page
When people use the expression “Who’s the man,” they typically point back at themselves sanctimoniously and say, “I’m the man.” In my experience that person is rarely correct. Yvon Chouinard, on the other hand, just happens to legitimately answer that timeless question. That’s because Yvon Chouinard truly is “The Man.” He would probably never admit it, but that’s because when you’re actually “the man,” you don’t have to tell anyone. They already know.
Chouinard is a legend of sorts. Not only is he famous for rock climbing, backpacking, and conservation, but he’s also a great water man and very (“Very” is an understatement) successful business man. His story of success is any outdoor-enthusiast’s dream come true. Chouinard is the founder of Ventura, CA based company Patagonia. If you’ve never heard of Patagonia, then chances are you don’t get outdoors that often. His company has become a behemoth in the outdoor apparel industry and is synonymous with quality, integrity, and environmental protection.
Patagonia has become a poster-child for sustainable business. While many companies are complaining about environmental regulations and the high-cost of becoming more sustainable, Patagonia is showing the world that you can have a highly profitable business that considers people and planet in every step of the process. Protecting people and planet has been a long-standing personal value of Chouinard’s that he’s integrated into his company. Several years ago, Chouinard co-created an organization called One Percent for the Planet whose primary goal is to get the business community engaged with conservation and restoration efforts by donating one percent of all it’s profits to environmental organizations around the world. As Chouinard says “There is no business to be done on a dead planet.” Take a look at the evolution of the organization that stemmed from passion, desire, and value:
Patagonia may be known primarily for it’s great apparel and environmental values, but it’s also been recognized and ranked as one of the “Best Places to Work” by Outside and Fortune magazine. The employees are happy, healthy and empowered. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to work in an environment like that!
I think what impresses me the most about Patagonia is its ability to go against the “business as usual” paradigm and become an industry leader by sticking to it’s core values and beliefs. It not only wants to be an environmentally conscious business, but it want’s its customers to be as well. One way they are doing this is by teaching their customers what goes into the creation of a garment. Patagonia tracks the environmental impact of it’s clothing and shares that information with the public through their project called “The Footprint Chronicles.” As you can see, transparency is a company value as well.
If that wasn’t enough for you, then I encourage you to read Chouinard’s book titled “Let my people go surfing.” In his book, Chouinard outlines his business model and life philosophy. It’s a great read and reiterates Chouinard’s title as “The Man.”
How many people do you admire? I don’t mean people you “like.” I’m talking about people whose actions or ideas are so inspiring that they challenge your paradigm and motivate change. Are you someone who looks up to many or a fortunate few? If I was to be honest with myself, then I would say that there are only a handful of living people (excluding family members of course) who I truly admire and can grab a hold of their vision. I’ve decided to highlight a number of these people over the next several days because they are worth knowing and may not be entirely main stream from some. Their visions and life missions are worth listening to… at least once.
Annie is best known for her animated documentary “The Story of Stuff.” What started out as an hour-long presentation has turned into an educational film, book, and project on consumerism and it’s impact on people, planet, and profit margins. It’s probably one of the best simple and condensed explanations on the Materials Economy or the system which goods are produced, distributed, sold, and disposed. Her film has literally educated millions and taught them how daily purchases play a role in global welfare. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth the 20 minutes. The film is done in a way that keeps the viewer engaged and entertained, all the while teaching him the ABC’s of consumerism. It’s like the Sesame Street’s version of lifecycle analysis. (See Below)
Here’s a creative short portraying the difference between positive and negative environmental impact. Carbon neutral or zero impact is cool, but giving back is what creates transformation.
Have you ever wondered if you could live a life devoid of toilet paper? Do you think you could go a year without a car, or much more, without purchasing anything new? I’ve personally given it some thought. Then again, I think most of us were first confronted with the idea of not having toilet paper when the movie “Demolition Man” came out in the early 90’s and Sylvester Stallone’s character found himself in the “three seashells debacle” (All you Gen Y-ers know what I’m talking about).
Ok, so maybe you have considered a life of less consumerism, less want, and less environmental impact, but how many actually walk any of those thoughts or desires out? I know I’ve fallen short many times, and when I say, “many times,” I really mean “all the time.” Take riding my bike to work for example. It was lovely at first- the fresh air, the exercise, the absence of fossil fuel- but as soon as I was too tired, woke up a little late, or just felt slightly inconvenienced, I headed straight for my car and was giving the “envy eye” to all the people biking to work. For those that don’t know, “envy eye” is very similar to the “stank eye.” The difference is the user is aware that his actions are found purely in jealousy and envy.
I think that’s how most people reacted to Colin Beavan’s documentary “No Impact Man.” In his film, Colin offers the audience a glimpse into sustainable living. For one whole year he decides to take his wife, Michelle, and daughter, Isabella, on an environmental vision quest that includes no electricity or garbage production, and a reconnection with food and community. It’s a remarkable endeavor that is both amazing and inspiring to watch. However, one of the most astonishing pieces of the story was that his yearlong experiment offended absolutely everyone at first. Those outside the environmental community thought his experiment was foolish and that he was a jerk for dragging his family along for the ride. While those inside the environmental movement questioned his character, his intentions, and his credentials. Literally no one seemed to support him.
It reminded me of what happens in certain religious circles when someone decides to powerfully “practice what he preaches.” Those on the outside of the circle view the lifestyle as crazy and illogical, while those on the inside of the circle feel so convicted that they try and tear the man down any way they can in order to justify they’re menial practice. In the case of Colin Beavan, the legalistic environmentalists came out in full force. Trying to discredit his experiment by saying it’s pure self-promotion and he’s not as much of an environmentalist as they are. It’s like saying to someone who just climbed Everest, “ You only did it to say you did it. Plus, you’re not really a true mountain climber because you haven’t been doing it as long as I have.” Even if all that is true, the guy freaking climbed Everest! Colin did something that few would even consider doing, much less actually do. Plus, he is the first to say that there is a bit of self-promotion in all this. After all, he is trying to make a living.
Although Colin is the catalyst for the film and its main focal point, his wife Michelle truly makes the story whole. If Colin were
alone, then it would just be a film about an environmentalist doing something extremely environmental. However, his wife takes the film and broadens the scope, as well as its audience. She is the real hero in the story. She represents the “Everyday American” – A fast paced consumer disassociated from her environmental and social impact. Through her we get to watch the tension of transition and her transformation from unconscious consumer to conscious activist. Her transformation is what gives the greatest hope. If she can change, then anyone change. If she can see the benefits of a sustainable lifestyle, then so can everyone else.
Does that mean I want to do a yearlong experiment like the Beavan’s? No. No thank you. However, I do want to practice many of the concepts that the film highlighted. For instance, I want to become more of a localvore, or someone who eats food that is produced locally. I also want to build more of a relationship with my food. We often buy food and consume it without any thought, but food has historically been a very intimate part of life. People used to know the farmers that produced their food. Families would spend time preparing a meal and then share life together while dining. Life and community once revolved around food and “the common meal.” We’ve come a long way from that, and I personally would like to reengage. If what I’m saying still isn’t making sense to you then check out an earlier post I wrote about how food shapes our environment.
Overall the film did exactly what it was supposed to… it got me thinking, and I’m sure it will get you to do the same.