The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

To sign-up to receive the CSR Newsletters regularly during the fall and spring academic semesters, e-mail author David Chandler at

Friday, December 4, 2009

Strategic CSR - Patagonia

This will be the last CSR Newsletter until the Spring semester.
Have a great holiday season and I will see you in January!

The article in the url below is an interesting interview with Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, and a good note on which to finish the semester’s Newsletters. A video of part of the interview is available at:

The interview is wide-ranging, focusing on the role of business, in general, and Patagonia, in particular, in promoting environmental sustainability:

“I believe the accepted model of capitalism that demands endless growth deserves the blame for the destruction of nature, and it should be displaced. Failing that, I try to work with those companies and help them change the way they think about our resources.”

In spite of Patagonia’s positive aspirations, Chouinard is a self-described pessimist regarding what is possible, which both reflects the scale of the problem and his belief in the importance of Patagonia’s mission:

“Patagonia now exists to put into practice all the things that smart people are saying we have to do not only to save the planet but to save the economy.”

Take care

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

Patagonia’s Founder on Why There’s “No Such Thing as Sustainability”

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard may be pessimistic about the earth's future, but he's determined to keep fighting. An exclusive interview.

From: Issue 137 | July 2009 | Page 46 | By: Tom Foster

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Strategic CSR - Fiji Water

The article in the url below reviews the evolution of environmentalists’ attitude toward bottled water:

“The rise and fall of bottled water may be the best case study yet in the strange politics of trendy environmental causes.”

First, bottled water was promoted as environmental progress. It was seen as a safer option to tap water:

“… no one did more to promote the bottled water craze than the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based activist organization that issued report after breathless report about the lethal dangers spewing from American taps.”

Bottled water was a healthy alternative to canned sodas and plastic bottles were presented as more environmentally friendly than glass bottles:

“Once upon a time plastic bottles made from lightweight polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, were an innovation meant to be relatively friendly to the planet. They could be stomped into thin discs, crushed by hand or even rolled up like toothpaste tubes, thus taking up a small space in landfills.”

Now, however, tap water is seen as safe and the environmental cost of shipping spring water from faraway places, such as Fiji, is seen as prohibitive (see an interesting article about Fiji Water at: Equally, the public perception of plastic bottles has also shifted:

“Now they are seen as bad in every way, choking the rising oceans and poisoning our precious bodily fluids with leaching carcinogens.”

I think the author is wrong, however, to conclude that “the rise and fall of bottled water” simply reflects a trend:

“One problem with fashionable causes -- whether for healthy living or a healthy planet -- is that the more broadly they are adopted, the less fashionable they become. Eco-chic isn't quite so chic when it becomes as common in Des Moines as it is in Marin County.”

It is difficult to implement societal-wide change—to push society in a direction that benefits the broader group, rather than individual self-interest. Unforeseen consequences often occur as a result. Both the introduction of bottled water and its phasing out were done with good intentions, and both decisions reflected our greater knowledge once the change was made. The worse mistake would have been not to adapt. My main criticism is that adaptation is often too slow and that individuals do not spend sufficient time educating themselves in order to make optimal purchase decisions.

Take care

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

Taste -- de gustibus: A Fashion Trend Meets A Watery Grave
By Eric Felten
1000 words
7 August 2009
The Wall Street Journal