5 Doable Tips To Live A More Sustainable Life

Lessons from the environmentalist billionaire Yvon Chouinard who gave away his company Patagonia to save our home planet.

October 5, 2022

You may have heard of Yvon Chouinard giving away his company Patagonia, and dedicating all future profits to fight climate change. Turning his passion for rock climbing into one of the world’s most successful sportswear brands, the founder has often been cited as a reluctant businessman whose love of nature outweighed profits. At 83, Chouinard has long been a groundbreaker in environmental activism and employee benefits; famous for giving afternoons off on good surf days. Declaring Earth as their only shareholder, Chouinard has truly led an exemplary life on how to love and save our home planet. We’ve collected a round-up featuring some of his inspirational principles and reflections.

F*ck Mars & Align With Nature

We all know by now that less time on tech, and more time in nature equals a naturally positive impact on our mental and physical well-being. We are simply not wired to sit indoors and look at screens all day. Trying to connect to the natural world can be recalibrating for our minds and bodies.

Plus, one can hope that if more of us are better connected to the planet, perhaps we might be gentler on it, too. Jokingly mentioning his desire to make t-shirts that declare “F*ck Mars”, Chouinard believes, “You protect what you love. And if you love nature, then you’ll want to protect it.” While we’re all for tech innovation and solutions, it’s a tongue-in-cheek reminder of priorities. And how, perhaps, they should be towards preserving the beautiful planet we already inhabit.

Simplify — Good Things Last

Part of what steered Patagonia’s success has been Chouinard’s Zen philosophy and how beneficial simplifying can be. From all the basic black t-shirt-wearing CEOs to ancient teachings, “less is more” is an enduring modus operandi that can get lost in the consumerist age. This approach can be as simple as purchasing fewer, but high-quality products you will love for a long time and take good care of.

“Going back to a simpler life based on living by sufficiency rather than excess is not a step backward,” says Chouinard. “Rather, returning to a simpler way allows us to regain our dignity, puts us in touch with the land, and makes us value human contact again.

Mindful Consumption Is A Possibility

According to a report by professors at Emory University and California State Polytechnic University, “mindful consumption is premised on consciousness in thought and behavior about consequences of consumption.” Meaning: it’s a more ethical antidote approach to mindless consumerism. Chouinard advocates for trying (as much as possible) towards buying what we need, rather than what we want, and choosing to be a thoughtful global citizen over being a consumer.

Health Is In Motion

Famous for his athleticism, Chouinard cites keeping mentally and physically active for staying healthy later in life. In other words; having a purpose and moving. He says the best advice he’s ever received is to “use your body for a certain amount of time each day, whether it’s playing tennis or chopping vegetables.”

The outdoor sports he favors, be it climbing, hiking, surfing, skiing, or kayaking, are unparalleled activities for building mindfulness, intuition, and resilience.

The Secret Of Resilience

Speaking of resilience, it’s strangely reassuring that Chouinard is also a self-proclaimed pessimist. Yet, he still chooses action and puts all his efforts into what he believes in. When describing a near-death event during a climb, and attempting it again, he says (on fear) that “there is no secret — you just have to keep at it.”

Wondertip: If you’re interested in more of Chouinard’s nature lover-entrepreneur philosophy, read his book Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman; sharing the persistence and courage that have gone into being head of one of the most environmentally responsible companies on earth.