Social Responsibility, Authenticity & 50 Shades of Green
After my conversation with the seal, my thought was PuraKai should be a Socially Responsibile Green business, with values and ethics related to producing products that lessen the impact on the environment, particularly the ocean environment, perhaps selfishly since this is where my family and I spend most of our time.
In doing market research for PuraKai one of the brands I knew I wanted to emulate was Patagonia, I have a tremendous respect for the Founder Yvon Chouinard, and I knew a little about his story. An honest, ethical, hard working entrepreneur, that loved the outdoors.
In the review of his book "Let my people go surfing, the education of a reluctant businessman", Michael S. Hopkins of Inc. writes a very nice review of the book in which he finishes with: "The point, as Surfing... (the book) shows us, is how powerful an organizing force authenticity can be."
Another powerful organizing force is economics, and I think Patagonia's authenticity is best represented in their honest and transparent communication on economics in the book "The Responsible Company", written by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley, who's been working with him for 35 years.
They say: "We can’t pose Patagonia as the model of a responsible company. We don’t do everything a responsible company can do, nor does anyone else we know. But we can illustrate how any group of people going about their business can come to realize their environmental and social responsibilities, then begin to act on them; how their realization is progressive: actions build on one another."
"We now know, from talking to all kinds of businesspeople that Patagonia, if exceptional at all, is so only at the margins. As mice and men share 99 percent of their genes, so do Wal-Mart, BP, and Patagonia. Patagonia may seem different because its owners are committed to social and environmental change; and our company is privately held, not publicly traded, so we can take on greater risks. But our management requires the same sets of skills, pursues the same opportunities, and faces the same competition and constraints as any other business."
Those are some powerful statements, which leaves those making claims to the contrary on a slippery slope, which can lead to a consumer backlash on claims of Green Washing. At PuraKai we aren't going to do it perfectly, and we can't make statements about purity we can't back up. We would be hypocritical to think we could act in such a purist manner. No, the best we can hope for at PuraKai is to be authentic, and to have that authenticity reflected in an honest and transparent manner.
This means that running a boat with twin diesels is ok, and wearing an organic hemp/cotton T-shirt while on the boat is ok too. It means we can eat lots of fish, but be we can let go of overharvested fish and sharks and be conservationists too. It means we can haul our kids and gear around in an SUV, and garden, recycle, and compost too. Rarely is life black and white, more often it's about shades of gray. And so it is with PuraKai, we will be Socially Responsible when possible, but to maintain our authenticity we will have 50 Shades of Green, it's the best we can do.