The standout idea at GreenBiz Forum last week was TruCost‘s assessment that paying for environmental and social costs would take out 40-50% of corporate profits. The standout moment was Joel Makower’s interview with legendary, uncompromising and courageous Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard.

For decades Chouinard has been calling it like he sees it, and building a company that prides itself on doing the right thing, even—especially?—when it seems unreasonable. Patagonia was the first company to commit to 100% organic cotton, well before the supply was sufficient or the price right. They famously ran a full page ad in the NY Times shouting “Don’t buy this jacket!” and encouraging customers to buy fewer things that last longer.

Here are a few of my favorite Chouinard quotes from the Forum:

If all these companies are doing all these great sustainability things, why is the world still going to hell? It’s the obsession w growth! Companies that have been in business for 500 to 1000 years or more focus on three priorities: quality, innovation, and controlled growth….


We’ve been growing 25-30%/year, in a recession, while other companies are hurting. We must be doing something right. Every time we’ve done the right thing for the planet, we’ve made more money….


[Makower: It’s the hardest thing in the world for companies to be seen as authentic.]
Chouinard: Because they’re not!…


[Makower: In some ways Patagonia and you are similar to Apple and Steve Jobs.]
Chouinard: Not at all! Their stuff is disposable, not repairable, and they want you to buy new one every year. I’ve got no use for that….


There’s no difference between a pessimist who says ‘We’re doomed, why bother?’ and an optimist who says ‘We’re fine, why bother?’ Nothing gets done….


If you want to change government, change business, because business runs govt. If you want to change business, change consumers. Make consumption uncool!…


We’ve got to move from complexity to simplicity. The more you know, the less you need.

And here’s a free booklet you can download of all my tweets from the GreenBiz Forum.

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