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  • Caio Oyafuso

    “Obviously there is a place in life for a religious attitude in the sense of awe, of astonishment at existence. And this is also a basis of respect for existence - which is something we don’t have very much of in this culture, even though we call it materialistic. A materialist is a person who loves the material, but in our culture today we are bent on the total destruction of material and its conversion into junk and poisonous gases as quickly as possible. Ours is not a materialistic culture because it has no respect for material. And respect is, in turn, based on wonder- on feeling the marvel of an ordinary pebble in your fingers”. By Alan Watts, in one of his talks (1960–1980) titled: "The Relevance of Oriental Philosophy".

    • Yasha Wallin

      Thank you for sharing this, what a wonderful perspective which I hadn't heard before. Its interesting to hear materialism broken down in this way. I will watch the TED talk now.

  • amandamtb

    People in this thread are really muddling the term 'consumerism' and 'consumers'. I don't see a conflict of running Patagonia. Yvon is advocating a needs vs. want mentality. The US economy, especially, promotes 'one in every color' type buying. You only need to see houses full of clutter, large purses being lugged to/from work each day, new wardrobes every season, to realize this is mindless consumerism. We need to buy more thoughtfully and less often.

    I grew up in NJ near a lot of malls where teenagers would hang out. I remember my mom saying "shopping is not a hobby". The notion of 'retail therapy' is killing us and our planet.

  • Laci Videmsky

    (caveat, my work is funded in part by Patagonia)

    I do not own any clothing by Patagonia, but I have a deep appreciation for what Yvon is saying about consumerism. He is not saying do not consume, just consume wisely and buy things that will last a lifetime. When I am ready to buy a vest or wetsuit, I probably will buy Patagonia, because I know it will last a very long time. I am also ready to make repairs with needle and thread, or floss and wetsuit glue if needed. An ethos of repair is something that we need to work on culturally.

    I agree with his points about children in nature. We have family values about engagement and stewardship that we instill in our children. They are constantly in the water, or out in the hills and mountains. They are total nature nerds for for 5 and 8, and are constantly interested in identifying and interacting with nature’s wonders. This knowledge and feeling of being guardians I hope they pass on to their children. They likely will.

    As for comments about technology, I would appreciate a bit of nuance here. I firmly believe that the passive consumption of technology is just sad. However, the creative use of technology is a wonderful practice that can expand the mind and one’s consciousness. My philosophy with technology is if it isn’t broken, break it. And, if you don’t know what is going on under the hood, you don’t really own it.

    Lovely article. I hope it is read far and wide.

  • Angela Holtzen

    Wow That was an amazing read, I went to the whole article in The Vertical. I agree with this man 100%.

    • Yasha Wallin

      Definitely! Such an amazing film.

  • DeAngelis Marshall

    Super cool 2 out of 6 were interesting. Us becoming consumers is just a way of life. Everything is monopolized even before he was born.

  • Howard

    Yvon and his company are great examples of those who "walk their talk." Yes, I've read the comments that cry hypocrisy about the founder of a retail brand who eschews consumerism. But if you go just a few layers deep into what Patagonia does, what they promote, the standards they set and uphold, and the bar they encourage everyone in their industry to reach, they stand alone. All alone.

    But (hopefully) not for long. There are a wave of brands who've taken Patagonia and Chouinard's ethos to heart and are working to change the way things are done. And just like he said about "slow" travel, so too is this kind of change - slow, with adventures along the way, and more about the journey than the destination. I'm on board. Anyone want to join me...?

    • Yasha Wallin

      I'm in. I agree with you about other companies catching up, because I think they've realized that consumers want to work with ethical companies. And I'm inspired by what Patagonia is doing in this regard—with all their innovation they are also sharing the knowledge they come up with so that other companies can follow suit. For instance, they recently developed a plant-based wetsuit and plan to share the technology with other surf companies so that the surf industry as a whole can be more sustainable.

  • lisajanej

    Whilst I agree with Mr Chouinard that we need to keep it simple and not always cheat an take the easy option. Also I am a huge fan of slow travel but we don't all have the luxury that affords us months off at a time!
    I find it hard to take the advice that "consumerism is killing us" when his business is founded on "consumerism" Mr Chouinard has had the luxury of affording to learn/master his passions, travel and experience a lot and along the way we the consumer have helped him. As much as he says buy what you need he wouldn't be opening a huge new store in New York if we really bought "only what we need!"

  • Keanna Sheu

    His honesty and frankness are both refreshing and poignant. I grew up with a true naturalist father who took me out fishing and into the wild every moment he could. I was literally riding horses as soon as I was able to walk. So, I get it and I value the message (it's an important one for me personally). All that being said, if consumerism is killing us why is he providing us with the vehicle? He says that he's "not a consumer of anything," which is a bold statement, but how can we support him and that statement when his professional success is dictated by consumers choosing to buy new things at his stores? How should we reconcile this?

    • Patricia Ho

      Perhaps the choice of words was poor that he is not a consumer of anything. It seems to me that the message here is simplify. Stuff can be useful, and at the same time accumulation of too much stuff is useless. Clothes are useful, collecting clothes every fashion season is not.

      I think Patagonia does a good job of creating clothing that can last year after year. I think they say on their website Don't Buy What You Don't Need. It's a wonderfully refreshing message for a products-based company to promote.

      I personally don't own any Patagonia gear, but the next time I'm in the market for camping gear I'll probably have a look there first.

      Thanks, Yvon, for being a surly old man with a mission.

  • travispeoples

    It's jarring to experience those who see through the layers of self-consciousness we've built to "protect" ourselves. Our grandest experiences are those where simplicity is substituted for comfort.

  • Jessie Voigts

    Love this article. I also read his book (and was impressed by it). We need more straight-talkers, in our lives.

  • J B

    Great article! As it happens Yvon is mentioned in this article online from Yerevan Magazine with the private photographer who went with him on a private tour in Chile:

    • Yasha Wallin

      This is great, thanks for sharing!

  • Josh Schwartzman

    Yes! This was such a beautifully succinct summary of wisdom from Yvon.

    I've also found that good living and happiness is all in keeping it simple - which is easy to learn after traveling considerably. Richness comes in building meaningful relationships with people and working on projects that use empathy to help people.

    I grew up on the farm but now live in the city - and so I can say I definitely see how scared people who grew up in the city are of nature. We are naturally skeptical about what we don't know, but that's where we need to encourage people to be curious. Most things won't bite (albeit squirrels can be feisty).

    • Emily Anderson

      Good point Josh! I'm from the countryside too and as naive as it sounds, I don't think I truly appreciated and understood how lucky I was to have a childhood immersed in nature until I moved to New York City. Collaborating with Patagonia is a very uplifting - and a times VERY humbling - experience.

      • Josh Schwartzman

        @Auntiegrav - it's too bad that's the trend, because we need more diversity for ecological resilience and societal resilience!

        @Emily - isn't it amazing to realize that what you assumed or took for granted is not what the people around you know for themselves? Just in terms of choosing what we eat (I try very hard to always buy organic) - I do that from knowing at a much deeper level what it means for the farmers and overall ecosystem to grow food that way, but many people who live in cities may just choose to do so because it's trendy.

  • Phillip

    I've read/listened to several of Yvon's interviews before and they are always invigoratingly motivating in that smack-in-the-face kind of way. I particularly loved this article for it's aggregation of all of his main points.

  • Daniela Uribe

    Makes me think of one of my favorite road signs in India-- "Life without courage and vision is simply a blind experience".

  • Jamie Fulbrook

    This is by far the best, bare-bones, kick-in-the-balls-honest series of answers I've read in too many years. In the spirit of true honesty… if only this article could reach and lead more people to direct action, then that really would be something to see. Tis a shame we can't just hand it in a note to every man alive tomorrow morning.

    • Josh Schwartzman

      Definitely! I've found these lessons are so simple and direct, but often only obvious through experience, and coming to realize them personally for myself. I'm not sure how much you can just tell them to people and have them really stick to them if they don't see why they should live this way.

    • Yasha Wallin

      Thanks for the comment Jamie. Yes, that's what so amazing about Yvon—he's not afraid to be 100 percent honest. Even if the truth stings a bit, its what will inspire us into action.

  • Purakai Clothing

    This is AWESOME! His book The Responsible Company is THE reason my daughter and I created our Ocean Friendly clothing company PuraKai ( and just launched our "Seed to Organic Shirt" on Kickstarter. Thank you Yvon!

    • AugustineSippar

      Patagonia's garments have been made from organic cotton since 1996. You have my vote of confidence - as I'm going down a similar route ("Made in France" in our case) - and I'm looked upon here as gentle daydreamer! Best of luck, I'll watch this space

      • Purakai Clothing

        Yes, he details the situation of why he changed Patagonia to organic cotton in the book. California is one of the biggest producers of cotton in the US, especially for Pima Cotton, the type of cotton we use, but only one farmer grows it organically. So we have to source our organic cotton from overseas (as does Patagonia), but if we're successful with the Kickstarter we can switch to California Grown organic cotton. So we'll have the best supply chain from an environmental stand point, and we are a small company so we're doing this on a small scale. Patagonia does $500+ million in revenue, so the current supply is probably a drop in the bucket compared to what the need.

    • Yasha Wallin

      Thanks for sharing, sounds like your clothing company is on the right track. Good luck with the Kickstarter campaign!