Don’t Buy My Books

What do you think of this?

It’s a message I’m trying on for size after seeing outdoor brand Patagonia give it a crack as part of their anti-consumerist campaign. Patagonia ran with the slogan “Don’t Buy This Jacket” a few years back as a series of print ads.

The 2011 Ad.

The irony, of course, is that it translated as “Let’s Buy That Jacket” for many suitably inspired consumers and the company went on to experience double-digit growth. Patagonia is now running a repair campaign – Worn Wear – across the US. The company is promising to combat disposable consumerism by making products that last, and to repair, resell, or recycle them along the way. Consumers are then asked to be respectful consumers – buy only what they need and mend and recycle what they’ve got.

Face value, it’s valiant. Critics, of course, are saying it’s hypocritical because the concept is geared at growth. But I am heartened. Growth is not bad in itself. And it is possible to “consume” or purchase stuff that doesn’t waste resources. Plus, there is a possible future where manufacturers can get on board with us and give us what we want – fun, roundy-fonted branding and consumer experience that’s mindful and respectful and …less.

Actually, I’m quite exhilarated by it all. (What would take it that stupendous step further is if Patagonia staff drilled customers before they purchased to check that they really needed a new jacket, or could they wait another six months, or repair an existing non-Patagonia jacket first?) *

Spinning it back around to me and the wares I encourage folk to consume. Yes, I sell books. That kill trees. (I also sell ebooks and online programs). How does this sit with me? I don’t shy from the fact that I seek growth. Within my books I try to promote less consumption (just wait ‘till you cop my next book, out in October). But when I first agreed to publishing my first book as a dead tree offering (I initially wrote it as an ebook), I pegged my success to my book becoming a hit in libraries. Happily it did.

I’d love to hear any mindful consumption good news stories you might have…

*A story in the New Yorker indicates this might not be a pipe dream. They observed a customer at one of Patagonia’s repair set-ups front up with a competing brand’s jacket. The staff happily repaired it, plus they delivered her another, free of charge, for a more complicated zipper fix.

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