Don't buy

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Don’t buy this shirt unless you need it
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by Yvon Chouinard & Nora Gallagher

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Featured in our Late Summer 2004 catalog
Near the headquarters of Patagonia, on the central coastof California, the Chumash Nation enjoyed a good life for thousands of years. They lived in small villages and possessed fur blankets, intricate baskets and soapstone pots decorated with shells. They painted elaborate abstracts in mountain caves. In every village were game-playing fields and sacred buildings. Almost every day, most Chumash enjoyed a cleansing sweat in the village temescal. In eachvillage was a granary for stockpiling food that would later be distributed to those in need.
Chumash traded exquisite olivella shells for black pigment, honeydew melons, pine nuts, wild tobacco and various herbs and salt. By the 16th century, theirs was a complex society of hunters and gatherers with a far-reaching, sophisticated trade network.

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Other nations along the western coast shared this life. Gerald Amos, a member (and former chief) of the Haisla Nation in Kitamaat, northwest Canada, recalls a friend of his father who would leave home in the dark to paddle to his trapline four miles by water. He would spend the day walking the lines, checking and resetting the traps. “Along the way back to the boat, duringthe late fall and early winter, the coho salmon would be still in the creeks that they passed, so they would stop at one of these creeks and take a couple of coho, which they would clean and pack home in their backpack together with what-ever animals they had taken in their traps. The fish provided them with their supper later that night."

In an economy of abundance, there is enough. Not too much.Not too little. Enough.
Such lives are often called subsistence, which brings to mind the barest, hardscrabble survival. But there is another way to look at them. At Patagonia we choose to call them “economies of abundance.” In an economy of abundance, there is enough. Not too much. Not too little. Enough. Most important, there is enough time for the things that matter: relationships, deliciousfood, art, games and rest. Many of us in the United States live in what is thought to be abundance, with plenty all around us, but it is only an illusion, not the real thing. The economy we live in is marked by “not enough.” We once asked the owner of a successful business if he had enough money and he replied, “Donʼt you understand? There is never enough.”

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Europeans enjoy a 25 percent higher quality of life than Americans (while we consume 75 percent more than they do).
And while we work harder and harder to get more of what we donʼt need, we lay waste to the natural world. Dr. Peter Senge, author and MIT lecturer, says, “We are sleepwalking into disaster, going faster and faster to get to where no one wants to be.”We might call this economy, the one we live in, the economy of scarcity. Lest you think the economy of abundance is gone with the old Chumash, consider Europe. Europeans still buy only a few well-made clothes and keep them for many years. Their houses and apartments tend to be smaller than ours; they rely on public transportation, and small, efficient home appliances and cars. Europeans enjoy a 25percent higher quality of life than Americans (while we consume 75 percent more than they do). Or, look at the people of Bhutan, whose king insists on measuring “gross national happiness.”

We donʼt have enough money, and we also donʼt have enough time. We donʼt have enough energy, solitude or peace. We are the worldʼs richest country, yet our quality of life ranks 14th in the world. As Eric...
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