This blog entry is long overdue, and has been inspired by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia.
I have known about his company for quite some time, but until recently I had not encountered his books, Let My People Go Surfing and The Responsible Company. For those of you who may not be familiar with Patagonia, the company designs, manufactures and sells outdoor gear and clothing. My adventures in backpacking and camping have acquainted me with many items which may have otherwise appeared alien to me.
In both of Chouinard’s books, he talks about the importance of making high quality and long-lasting products to offset any social or environmental price they may warrant. His experience has led him to the belief that ones livelihood is best pursued when ones conscience is clean and developed. He says in The Responsible Company, “We’re wasting our brains and our only world on the design, production, and consumption of things we don’t need and that aren’t good for us.” He then goes on to say that we must “Reverse the habit to act now and deal with the consequences later.” One solid fact that is repeated several times in this book is that ninety percent of a product’s environmental impact is committed at the design stage.
I fervently repeat Yvon’s words to myself when thinking about my own business practices. What social distress and environmental harm can I eliminate from my work? How can I give back to that which amazes me, my community and the landscape that surrounds me? As does Patagonia when they reclaim outworn clothing, I aim for conscientious efficiency and attempt to waste minimally in the design and manufacturing stages.
I collect and repurpose books that have come to the end of their useful life and would have otherwise been discarded. Their pages are turned blank again, and their story is to be written anew. I strive to be responsible in my business practices. I strive when I select or repurpose an item that goes into a book, and in every step of my process, I question what guides me. The outcome is always as earnest as it can be, given my experience and resources. Each book I make is a blank slate for your story. I make them as a part of my holistic approach to my livelihood and to give back to the environment which offers me plenty everyday.
To quote a formula from Chouinard’s book; “Know your impacts, favor improvements, share what you learn.”