Podcast Ep. 22, PATAGONIA'S VINCENT STANLEY ON THE BIG STUFF
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EPISODE 21 FEATURES VINCENT STANLEY
Vincent Stanley is Patagonia’s director of philosophy. He has been with Patagonia since 1973, when his uncle, Yvon Chouinard, gave him a job as a kid out of college.
He's a writer, a big reader, a deep thinker and passionate environmentalist, he's also a visiting fellow at the Yale School of Management. And a poet whose work has appeared in Best American Poetry.
With Yvon, he co-wrote the book THE RESPONSIBLE COMPANY, which is like this handbook for building a more sustainable business. He is also the guy who wrote the initial text for The Footprint Chronicles, which many of you will have heard of - it’s Patagonia’s game changing supply chain mapper.
The view still holds that fashion is frivolous, but it is of course about way more than that. Being concerned with manufacturing, it has serious impacts on people and planet, and being both visually commanding and popular, it can be a great jumping off point for broader conversations about things like the environment.
Now, Patagonia is not a fashion company, although it certainly inspires many of us in fashion. The outdoor gear brand is an industry leader by a long stretch when it comes to things like using organic cotton and removing chemicals from their supply chains, mapping those chains, transparency, working with Fair Trade and supporting grass roots eco causes. This is their mission statement:
Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
So buckle up... Poetry, philosophy, environmentalism, population growth, cognitive dissonance activism, and the role of business in making a difference, this episode takes on THE BIG STUFF. We discuss what’s happening to our soils, loss of biodiversity, climate change, ocean acidification, water pollution. Overwhelming, yes, but what we need now is action. How do we want to live? What do we want our economy and indeed our world to look like?
WHAT WE TALK ABOUT...
Dave Rastovich is one of Patagonia's surfing ambassadors. He's the one who lent Vincent that poetry book...
At its simplest, philosophy (from the Greek or phílosophía, meaning ‘the love of wisdom’) is the study of knowledge, or "thinking about thinking".
The term "economy," from which we get "economics," comes most directly from the Old French word "economie," meaning "management of a household." The French adopted the term from the Latin word "oeconomia," which was in turn derived from the Greek word "oikonomia."
Ecology means both the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings, and the political movement concerned with protection of the environment.
Vincent's wife Norah Gallagher, as we mention, is a wonderful writer. Read about her work here.
CRADLE TO CRADLE is changing the way we make things, with circularity in mind. In 1992, William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart published The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability. In 2002, they published Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, encapsulating a journey of discovery about materials as biological or technical nutrients and their use periods and their evolution. They created a framework for quality assessment and innovation: the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program.
THE BREAD LAB at the University of Washington works to breed and develop publicly available varieties of grains and other crops that will benefit farmers, processors, and end-users while enhancing access to affordable and nutritious food for all members of our communities.
Vincent, along with Rick Ridgeway, worked on the famous Don’t Buy This Jacket campaign that Patagonia ran in the NYT in 2011.
Here's the text:
WE make useful gear that lasts a long time
YOU don’t buy what you don’t need
WE help you repair your Patagonia gear
YOU pledge to fix what’s broken
WE will take back your Patagonia gear that is worn out
YOU pledge to keep your stuff out of the landfill and incinerator
TOGETHER we reimagine a world where we take only what nature can replace
"In many ways, the environmental climate is invisible, I think what we have is a kind of soft loss of natural health, this gradual process of desertification, if you don’t know that. On the one hand it’s hard to see, and when you start to see it its terrifying. Cognitive dissonance, when we see a problem we don’t think we can deal with we tend to look away." - Vincent Stanley
THE FOOTPRINT CHRONICLES... examines Patagonia's life and habits as a company. The goal is to use transparency about our supply chain to help us reduce our adverse social and environmental impacts – and on an industrial scale
Patagonia started developing its social responsibility program in the mid-1990s, working side by side with factory partners. In 2001, they became a founding member of the Fair Labor Association, a nonprofit that works to improve working conditions worldwide. They say: "With over a decade of close focus on our cut-and-sew factories, in 2011, we moved one link back in the supply chain to audit labor practices in the mills that make our fabrics. After joining Fair Trade USA’s apparel program in 2014—an effort that required us to change our internal procedures and work across many departments to embed the Fair Trade principles—we launched a successful pilot of 10 Fair Trade styles in the fall of that year." They now produce over 480 styles Fair Trade styles in 14 Fair Trade factories - 15,700 factory workers are directly benefiting.
A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." - Aldo Leopold
Meet Deliah, the Worn Wear van...
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