I have read through Patagonia’s book “The Responsible Company” a couple of times now. As we are in the early stages of forming our company/community I found the book to be both very inspiring and highly thought-provoking.  If you are looking for a book with sustainable business principles and practices that have been tried and tested, then look no further. The book itself can be read in a couple of sittings and there is a very helpful appendix which includes a “responsible company checklist” and recommended readings!


The authors’ aim is to invite people onto a journey of doing business responsibly and sharing what they have learned over the years. They are forthcoming with their shortcomings and clear about key principles that work. There is no hint of condemnation but rather an inspiring vision that brings hope for a better world, filled with businesses that have less environmental impact, are more socially responsible and provide meaningful work.


One of the most helpful things was the way the book spells out what a “responsible company” should look like as we move into a post-consumerist world. The authors outline five elements/responsibilities: a business is responsible to – Shareholders (be profitable), Workers, Customers, Local Community and Nature.  This is a very helpful framework for us as we are laying the foundations of our business. The book comes from the point of view of a manufacturer of goods but the principles are transferable to service-based companies.


We are as a community currently exploring ways to reduce our environmental impact. So be on the look out for future blog posts:-) This is one of those books that we as a company will refer to often for guidance, inspiration and as a measure of how we are doing in our pursuit of becoming an environmentally friendly and socially responsible company.


Here are a few quotes from the book to give you a feel:


“How is a company responsible? Should it profit its shareholders, provide for the well-being of its employees, make excellent products, be a good force in the community, and protect nature? We think that a responsible company bears all these obligations.” (23)


“As of this writing, two thirds of the U.S. economy relies on consumer spending…. Much of what we produce to sell to each other to earn our living is crap, either ever more luxurious, specialized goods like electronic temple massagers and personal oxygen bars, or cheap salty junk food and disposable clothing. Every piece of crap because it was manufactured, contains within it something of the priceless: applied human intelligence, for one, natural capital for another- something taken from the forest or river or the soil that cannot be replaced faster than we deplete it. 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…


We are in transition to a post-consumerist society, and toward the recovery of our collective sense – of time, of public space, of proportion.


In a post-consumerist world, goods are likely to become more expensive, to reflect their true social and environmental cost, prompting us to shop less as a form of entertainment. That’s not so bad. We’ll be able to recover time for satisfying pleasures that derive from pursuing our deepest interests; we’ll have more time with our friends and family, and more time for meaningful work.” (26-27)




Categories: Blog, James, Responsibility
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