Use the Earth to Help the Earth

In these days of summer, good news is extremely hard to come by.  There isn’t a corner of the earth where murder, by the hundreds, is not a popular activity, not just ignored but applauded by many who are standing out of harm’s way.  So it is nice to turn to one small signal of sanity, actually two.

1] The wet suit, which has received positive reviews from users ” …  is made not from conventional, petroleum-based neoprene but from a natural rubber derived from a desert shrub.

Guayule Flowers

Guayule Flowers

Patagonia executives are … convinced that the many years of development and testing they have supported have resulted in a revolutionary material that will wind up not only in wet suits but also in everyday items like sneakers and yoga mats.

2] But … only a few of those products will bear the Patagonia name. Instead of holding the manufacturer of the rubber, Yulex, to a yearslong exclusive contract, Patagonia is encouraging its competitors to use the product, hoping to see its use grow and drive down the price. Other wet suit and athletic apparel companies have shown interest …

It turns out it’s not easy to do good as a corporation.  In fact the incorporation documents have to specifically define public good and how it aims to do it.

Patagonia  became a benefit, or B, corporation, one of an estimated 900 in the United States. This form of incorporation, permitted in 26 states and the District of Columbia, requires executives to take into account not just how decisions will affect profit and shareholders but also how they will affect the public, generally defined as society or the environment. Though the rules vary among states, companies must produce an annual benefit report to demonstrate how they are adhering to the mission.

Good for them and really good for pushing a non-fossil fuel solution to the production of many common items in the today’s world.

Of course, the thing to watch out for, which we should all be aware of finally, is the danger of industrialized farming and corporate mono-culture, stripping out food crops, or more jungle cover, to jump on the bandwagon.  Bridgestone, one of the world’s largest users of rubber, is doing its own R&D.

NY Tmes: Cardwell

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