How Patagonia’s Sustainability Efforts Apply to Agriculture

Patrick BlampiedNews

“As we confront global climate change, increasing drought, and a diminishing supply of fossil fuels, it’s clearly time to rethink our agricultural practices.” – Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia

I received ‘let my people go surfing’ as a gift back in March but didn’t manage to read it until a recent holiday when I could hide my phone away and avoid the ever-distracting Facebook.

Here are my reflections on the book and how Yvon’s insights can apply to compost and agriculture.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Patagonia, it’s worth noting the effort they go to as a clothing brand to not only minimise their impact on the environment, but to show the way for other brands. They were using recycled polymers, organic cotton and fair trade labour before the internet existed.

But most excitingly to me is the founder – Yvon Chouinard’s internal struggle with creating a business that has to grow to be successful, while fully understanding the damage that growth can cause.

Patagonia has been very open with this struggle – just check this billboard that advertises AGAINST buying something new!


Even more radically, Patagonia encourages repair of its clothing items and run a full repair hub at their Sydney store. Yes they’ll even repair other brands for a small fee.

Sure the most cynical and dark green amongst us could criticise this as middle class attempts to appease the joy we get from retail therapy, BUT with fast-fashion now responsible for a growing number of environmental impacts Patagonia remains a light at the end of an increasingly murky tunnel. Read more here .

They’ve even teamed up with the folks at iFixit to produce repair guides. Ever wanted to know how to sow a whip stitch? Well here you go.

And if your Patagonia item is beyond repair they’ll actually take it back at their stores for recycling. That’s called ‘product stewardship’ – a concept that has been discussed for years but no-one in this country is prepared to legislate.


What does that have to do with compost?

So if you’ve made it this far you may be wondering what it’s got to do with our little agricultural compost business. Well interestingly Yvon Chouinard is so concerned about the state of the planet that he believes agriculture is the only mechanism with enough impact to make a difference.

‘Regenerative Organics’ is the term and Patagonia are not only promoting the use of agricultural compost and other tools but they’ve created their own food brand to purchase produce from like minded farmers. Just as they’ve done with organic cotton production.

Here’s a trailer to an inspiring film if you’d like to know more: ‘Unbroken Ground

So as we come to the end of another financial year, it’s good to take time and reflect on our values and how our relatively small operation and awesome farmers fit into the bigger picture of regenerative organic agriculture.