Watch: Fish People by Patagonia Films – Sail+Leisure
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Watch: Fish People by Patagonia Films

by Ingrid Hale
Fish People Patagonia

Fish People tells the stories of a unique cast of characters who have dedicated their lives to the sea. This beautifully  filmed documentary is one in a series produced by a collective of film makers on behalf of Patagonia Films.

The film features Dave Rastovich, Kimi Werner, Matahi Drollet and more. Directed by Keith Malloy

Films with impact

Affecting change on the ground is a crucial measure of success for Patagonia.

Patagonia appreciates that all life on earth is under threat of extinction. Their business “unusual” philosophy leads them to use the resources they have – their business, their investments, their voice and their imaginations – to do something about it’.

Watch The garden at the end of the world.

How Patagonia became involved in protecting the environment

The company was still fairly small when they started to devote time and money to the increasingly apparent environmental crisis. ‘What we began to read—about global warming, the cutting and burning of tropical forests, the rapid loss of groundwater and topsoil, acid rain, the ruin of rivers and creeks from silting-over dams—reinforced what we saw with our eyes and smelled with our noses during our travels. At the same time, we slowly became aware that uphill battles fought by small, dedicated groups of people to save patches of habitat could yield significant results’. The first lesson came in the early ’70s. ‘A group of us went to a city council meeting to help protect a local surf break from a development plan. We knew vaguely that the Ventura River had once been a major steelhead habitat. Then, during the ’40s, two dams were built, and water diverted. Except for winter rains, the only water left at the river mouth flowed from the sewage plant’.

Support at grass root level

They began to make regular donations to smaller groups working to save or restore habitat rather than give the money to NGOs with big staffs, overheads and corporate connections. In 1986, they committed to donating 10 percent of profits each year to these groups, later upping the ante to one percent of sales, profit or not.                   They have kept that commitment every year since. The formation of 1% for the Planet in 2002 made it easy for other companies to do the same.

In 1988, Patagonia initiated their first national environmental campaign on behalf of an alternative master plan to de-urbanize the Yosemite Valley. Each year since, they have undertaken a major education campaign on an environmental issue. They took an early position against globalisation of trade where it means compromise of environmental and labor standards. They have argued for dam removal where silting, marginally useful dams compromise fish life. They have supported wild-lands projects that seek to preserve ecosystems whole and create corridors for wildlife to roam.

Sharing the knowledge

Every two years, Patagonia holds a Tools for Grassroots Activists Conference to teach marketing, campaign and publicity skills to some of the groups they work with. The lessons shared by leaders and experts from the nonprofit and for-profit world were so well received that they published a book so more activists could benefit from them.  They also began initial steps early on to reduce their own role as a corporate polluter: they have been using recycled-content paper for catalogs since the mid-’80s. They worked with Malden Mills to develop recycled polyester from soda bottles for use in their Synchilla® fleece. They assessed the dyes they used and eliminated colours from the line that required the use of toxic metals and sulphides. In 2007, they made their efforts public—the good and the bad—with the launch of the Footprint Chronicles.




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