Questions for: Rick Ridgeway

  @FortuneMagazine August 29, 2013: 7:50 AM ET
QUE16 rick ridgeway
(Fortune)

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard believes that unbounded growth puts undue stress on the planet, and that business must find innovative ways to reduce its footprint. His longtime climbing buddy Rick Ridgeway is the outdoor-clothing company's sustainability head, and as such is charged with spurring this innovation (he was also on the first American team to climb the 28,251-foot mountain K2, and he did it without an oxygen tank). Ridgeway spoke with Brian Dumaine and answered readers' questions.

Q: What, specifically, is Patagonia doing about the environment?

Ridgeway: We are launching a campaign we're calling the Responsible Economy. It's about the role consumption plays in the continued decline in our planet's health. One of our advertisements reads, "Don't buy this jacket."

Discouraging your customers from buying doesn't sound to me like capitalism.

At first it sounds crazy: How can any business thrive in an economy of negative growth? We think there may be a different form of capitalism that can wean us off growth and improve the planet's health.

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