The average American spends 90,000 hours of their lifetime at work. Imagine if those hours were spent as a force for good. The book, The Responsible Company explores how a business can exercise social corporate responsibility and do their part to contribute and give back to the community. The authors, Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley, describe what Patagonia learned on its journey to become sustainable. They investigated their supply chain, sourced from sustainable farms, reduced material waste, and set up a program where people could return their used Patagonia merchandise. It is an excellent example of how companies can tweak their practices bit by bit to save money and improve the lives of their workers.
Chouinard and Stanley also discussed what individuals can do in their own companies to put them on the path of sustainability. CEO’s can readily make a bigger impact because they can launch a top-down initiative. However, since most of us aren’t CEO’s, it was empowering to learn how we can all become changemakers in our own way.. The authors argue that, “most fundamental changes start at the margins and work towards the center.” They suggest to reduce environmental harm by showing your company the many opportunities that exist to save or make money by pursuing improvements from the bottom up. It isn’t going to happen over night, but little nudges can amount to a push overtime.
Overall The Responsible Company is a remarkable novel that instills hope in the reader. Often times we feel like we can’t contribute much to the cause of sustainability because it’s such a large scale transition. It is crucial that we also exercise our buying power to support companies like Patagonia that believe in the Triple Bottom Line: people, planet and profit, and not just the profit aspect. This book instills hope because it shows us that we can put those 90,000 hours of work over the course of our lifetime towards a cause for good. We don’t have to work at a company specializing in the environment or sustainability to do something about it. Every company can do its part by sourcing sustainable materials, making sure the factories they source from pay living wages, using less packaging, etc. Those changes begin with all of us. It doesn’t have to be something we do on the weekends or after work. We can start by making those changes 40 hours a week.