“The more we pour the big machines, the fuel, the pesticides, the herbicides, the fertilizer and chemicals into farming, the more we knock out the mechanism that made it all work in the first place”
David R. Brower
A few months ago I wrote about our no harm policy. Today I’d like to give you an illustration of it in practise.
One of the fabrics that we no longer wish to buy is Cotton. In about 5 minutes with a computer and Google you can find out why. Search: Cotton pollution. Or click here or here. We buy organic cotton clothing when we can find it.
Admittedly the Simples both have cotton clothing in our wardrobe, but most of my clothes are over 10 years old and I don’t need to replace them as regularly as Ms Simple. I look damn good even in rags :). Because we don’t buy new high fashion clothes every week we have more time when we do replace clothing to chose consciously. We buy or are given second hand cotton clothes sometimes.As my sister says “buying or accepting second hand cotton clothing doesn’t drive the market for cotton”, but at the same time we don’t think dumping unfashionable clothing into landfill is the answer either. So when friends spring clean their wardrobe each season we happily accept donations.
We live quite an active outdoors lifestyle, but we have found too many of the outdoor apparel companies don’t really do much to protect the natural environments that they promote using their clothes in. Most produce clothing that is unsustainable, harmful and from textiles that are heavily reliant on pesticides. Patagonia is different. It is a great example of a business that is a good global corporate citizen. As a company they have done more to push the market for organic cotton than many other larger outdoor outfitters. I accidentally discovered about this company by reading a business book written by the company founder. The title – Let my people surf. It was a very interesting and very different management book to the typical ones that I have read. After reading the book I added this company to our buy list. They have a wide range of good quality organic and low harm synthetic clothing products that are good durable and attractive (remember I am a guy that happily wears what Ms Simple describes as rags. Check out this previous post about my shoes).
Our no harm buying means that we choose not to support dirty industries like clothes made of cotton. With organic alternatives, second hand opportunities and alternative low harm materials it is actually very easy to outfit ourselves. However, there are some other types of products (think carpet) that are so dirty, and so harmful that we don’t think that they need to be produced at all. It is incredibly energising to find stories about business leaders in these industries that are thinking like we are. Here is one excellent example. If you have 1 minute and 50 seconds watch this. If you don’t have 1.50 seconds make the time.
I think the thing to remember is low harm is not no harm. It is a commitment to make better choices. If you can’t buy no harm products just chose the next best alternative. You get a special feeling pulling a low harm t-shirt over your head. It has symbolic value that makes it different than the other cheap white pieces of fabric from your drawer. Making better choices is our default setting and we feel really good about how we are using our wealth.