Last week I was invited to SunPower to listen to Dame Ellen McArthur speak. She is one badass woman. Not only was she the fastest sailor (yes! this includes men and women) to circumnavigate the globe in 2005 but she has since started the Ellen McArthur Foundation, which is accelerating the transition to a regenerative, circular economy.
How did a sailor transition into an economic leader? Simple. She is familiar with finite resources. While sailing she had to pack enough water, fuel, food and other provisions to sail the world. Daily she would watch these resources diminish; there was no way to replenish. They were scarce. She then realized, our global economy is no different.
Dame McArthur has been advocating a circular economy, “one that is restorative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times,” she said.
To me, Patagonia epitomizes a circular economy. They take cotton, wool, hemp and other materials that independently do not have much value. However, when it is made into a high performance fleece or ultralight down jacket, they are at their highest value. The goal is extend the life when at this high value state. And Patagonia does just that. They just returned from a cross-country Worn Wear tour. They offered free clothing repairs, teaching people how to fix their own gear, and also sold used Patagonia clothing.
I couldn’t think of a better starting point for my journey. Patagonia has been at the forefront of sustainability for decades now and infuses overall wellness in their culture. Visiting their Ventura campus today I witnessed the positive energy from all employees. Troy, Allison to Chipper Bro at reception were oozing with excitement and curiosity. The company is serious about doing good and doing well and hyper-aware of our finite resources. I think Dame Ellen McArthur would applaud Patagonia for their awareness and action towards a circular economy.
MY MAIN TAKEAWAY, which can apply to products, people and our environment -- Treat what YOU have well. Maintain its value. Be restorative.