Tag Archives: environment

Yvon Chouinard – and his company where everybody would love to work, right?










Have you heard of Yvon Chouinard? I don’t remember anymore how I came across his name the other day but I was quite impressed and after doing some research I was so even more. I’m really entirely fascinated by him and his life ad work. He’s one of those people  who pursue their pleasure and passion and manage to make their living out of it and at the same time do something to make this world a better place.

Chouinard is a legendary climber, a passionate surfer, environmentalist and (outdoor industry) businessman.
He’s the founder of (among others) the company Patagonia (that might ring a bell – it’s one of the biggest high-end outdoor clothing companies) a company which is known for its environmental focus and he’s also the author of  ‘Let my people go surfing’- The education of a reluctant businessman – and even though I’m not in the slightest a business woman I’m quite intrigued to read it.


As a passionate climber Chouinard started already in his young years to make his equipment on his own, to improve it in order to protect and not damage the rocks (which was known as clean climbing) and finally made a business out of it. The particularity is that in what he’s doing he was and still is lead by his passion for nature and outdoors and not the pursuit of money which makes all the difference.
The way Patagonia is doing its business has gained attention not just for it’s unorthodox style, but because it works.

an excerpt of his book

I’VE BEEN A BUSINESSMAN for almost 50 years. It’s as difficult for me to say those words as it is for someone to admit to being an alcoholic or a lawyer.
I’ve never respected the profession. It’s business that has to take the majority of the blame for being the enemy of nature, for destroying native cultures, for taking from the poor and giving to the rich, and for poisoning the earth with the effluent from its factories. Yet business can produce food, cure disease, control population, employ people, and generally enrich our lives. And it can do these good things and make a profit without losing its soul.

Since I had never wanted to be a businessman, I needed a few good reasons to be one. One thing I did not want to change, even if we got serious: Work had to be enjoyable on a daily basis. We all had to come to work on the balls of our feet and go up the stairs two steps at a time. We needed to be surrounded by friends who could dress whatever way they wanted, even be barefoot. We all needed flextime to surf the waves when they were good or ski the powder after a big snowstorm or stay home and take care of a sick child. We needed to blur the distinction between work and play and family.

Indeed, Patagonia was one of the first companies in the US who provided on-site child care for the children of their employees.

In the 90’s they revealed that industrially grown cotton was probably the worst product for the environment (it uses 25% of the world’s pesticide insecticide with occupying only 3% of the world’s farmland). After only 2 years the company committed itself to using only pesticide-free cotton for their products. (go to min. 39 of his speech)

Listen to his great speech at the University of California where he talks about his personal history, how he created Patagonia, and the philosophy he uses to run the company. He discusses how he has tried to minimize Patagonia’s impact on the environment, such as making fleece clothing from recycled soda bottles. He also talks about his One Percent for the Planet plan in which participating businesses contribute at least 1% of their net annual sales to groups on a list of researched and approved environmental organizations.

(even only listening to the last 15 min. gives you a good idea of his work and philosophy)



I wish there would be more entrepreneurs like Chouinard, we definitely need more of them!


I want to believe (like Tina Roth Eisenberg said) that (business) success can be built on respect, kindness and decisions that don’t always come down to money and that you don’t have to be ruthless and unethical in order to run a successful business.


PS. Maggie, sis, I think that’s the company where you should work – honestly! California, their cause and surfing is part of their working philosophy!


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Medical Herbman Cafe Project


When you don’t feel well in your stomach you’re supposted to drink camomile – and when I was pregnant I was told towards the end of my term to drink a tea made from raspberry bush. It is supposed to loosen up your uterus muscles. (for the girls among you,  I heard that it also helps when you suffer from menstrual cramps).
But that’s about all that I know about the virtues of plants and herbs. Unfortunately because I’m pretty sure that some plants could help us just as well or even better as some of the chemical drugs that we use so often to treat our little pains a aches.

That’s why I think this is really quite a great project!


EARTHSCAPE, a Japanese landscape design studio have created Medical Herbman Café Project (MHCP)  which is basically a giant travelling human-shaped herb garden – herbman, ‘teaching’ people the virtues of plants for the different parts of our body. MHCP aims to raise awareness about how herbs can be used to treat and heal our body.

The project travelled in big shipping container that serve as a temporary café and shop once the herb garden is installed. The herbs are planted on the surface of a giant 60m herbman (which serves as a big map) according to the parts of the body they can treat. Plants that can treat your digestions will be planted on the stomach area, for example and so on.
The proceeds of the project serve to help build playgrounds in developing countries.


A social action project that is expressed through design work and carried out by the landscape design studio EARTHSCAPE. We consider all the necessary production and activity that occurs around the project, such as the details, related items produced, and the flow of people visiting events — indeed the entire project — as a work of design.

MHCP is a project that travels to different locales like a circus, growing a little with each stop. Wherever we go, we build a human-shaped field called “Herbman,” through which we educate visitors about the relationship between humans and nature. MHCP is a social enterprise realized in part by the landscape design studio Earthscape. We treat all the project details and production—indeed, all the activity that occurs around the project—as design elements. The project expands as Herbman travels around the world, carrying his luggage in a single shipping container. He will meet many people at his various destinations, gaining knowledge and growing bigger and stronger as he goes.
Herbman carries his trunk (the container) as he travels, delivering dreams to children and teaching good health to all. This is the vision of our project.
His trips may be irregular, but he will keep on traveling forever.

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30 beautifully abandoned places

Probably 30 (of) the most abandoned places in the world – that look truly beautiful- though also kind of scary, some at least. Especially n°29, the hotel in Colombia – just like the haunted house, right? Or that sunken yacht..

I think these three are my favorites, though they all look amazing! Right?

Kolmanskop, Namib desert

abandoned places

via photography.nationalgeographic.com

Craco, Italy

abandoned places3

via reddit.com

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

abandoned places2

via theglobalpanorama.com

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Our beaches are disappearing as we are running short of…sand!!


Have you heard of the new ecological time bomb? Everybody knows of the diminishing reserves of drinking water that we are heading for but have you heard that we are also running out of sand? It’s not a joke..and not many people seem to care. I’ve never heard of it before I’ve seen this incredibly breathtaking documentary realised by award-winning documentary filmmaker Denis Delestrac.

Our beaches are about to vanish -9 out of 10 beaches in the world are concerned and the impact on our environment is enormous.
The reasons are many. Sand is the third most used resource after water and air. The construction of streets and buildings:  2/3 of our constructions are made out of concrete (concrete consists 2/3 out of sand: a house means about 200 tons of sand!)
Somebody had the great idea -and others are following- to create artificial islands which on the other hand caused the disappearance of over 15 islands in the indian ocean already.
It gets to the point that Sand is even STOLEN clandestinely from the beaches today! There is something like a veritable ‘sand mafia‘ nowadays that is doing a lot of damage, strikes terror and doesn’t even flinch back from killing. With their connections to high positioned politicians they are very often left alone.

If sand is taken from the beaches or from the grounds of rivers or seas so massively like it is at the moment, it has an enormous effect on the whole ecosystem. A demonstrative example was the cyclone Sandy last year. Beaches serve as natural barriers. If they’re diminished to a high point or disappear completely the results can be flooding of cities that are close to the sea like New York. The diminishing of beaches and dunes aggravates the impact of every storm in coastal urbanised area.

Our construction habits have to change. On the highway you’re literally rolling over some of the most beautiful beaches without even knowing it. It’s crazy!
Another reason is the inconsiderate way of how and where we construct – way too close to the water. Which doesn’t leave the beaches the space they ‘need’.
Needless to think all the sand in the Sahara will release us – it’s useless, its consistence is unfit, too fine – at least for construction.

There is a big problem of collective non-awareness of the emergency as sand is still not regarded as a resource in danger. No alternatives to sand are sought (and alternatives exist) as nothing is as cheap as sand – which is basically for free – only labor has to be paid.  But just like water and air it is regarded as unlimited and everyone’s property.

So basically if we don’t watch out our grand children might not know beaches anymore like we did. This only talking about beaches, but the effects on our entire ecosystem will be disastrous.

See the movie on arte (german version)
see also sand mining

… suddenly The day after tomorrow doesn’t seem so surreal anymore

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Bird project ..soap


Love this!
MATTER INC is an industrial design and consulting studio that is all about “Design for Social Change”. One of their products is this birdsoap designed by Tippy Tippens. Its profits benefit the cleanup efforts related to BP’s oil spill disaster.

“Each black, bird shaped soap contains a white, ceramic bird, handmade from Louisiana Clay, which remains as a keepsake once the outer soap has washed away.

Through the daily act of washing, you will eventually free the clean, white, ceramic birds inside – potent symbols of restoration and recovery. The soap is shaped to be cradled in your hand and is a powerful representation of all creatures affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster. ..”


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