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The first inspiration for Zero = abundance came from Patagonia’s Black Friday event “Celebrate what you already own.”  I had the opportunity to cover the event in 2013 at San Fransisco store.  I was struck by the sense of satisfaction prevailing the event although there was vert little “shopping” going on.  It made me think about the relationship between “having (buying) more,”, “having (buying) less” and deep satisfaction.  I soon came to realization that having less can actually lead to deeper satisfaction, if it can fully activate our mind, and if we can feel fully engaged.  And that is exactly how we feel when we experience Zen-inspired Zero culture.  There is something very profound fundamental about satisfaction triggered by “having less.”  I hope you will enjoy the story and see the connection.

Patagonia is one of the rare and brave businesses that publically opposes the current mass-production/consumption system. On Black Friday 2013, they hosted a “Celebrate What You Already Own” event. 

Patagonia shop

Celebrate what you own pic

The idea was to enjoy a de-facto “National Shop-frantically-day” without buying  anything new.  I had the opportunity to visit the shop in San Francisco, to cover the event.  The store had no “SALE” banners, even on Black Friday.

The first thing I saw was a long line for the “yerdle” truck.  Yerdle is a start-up sharing economy company that provides an online goods exchange platform.  Yerdle hails to reduce the need for new products by maximizing the use of existing products.  Here, outside the Patagonia shop, customers are forming a long line to exchange the used goods they brought with them for used Patagonia gear.

Yerdle truck


Soon it becomes obvious that they don’t look for any random good deals.  They are eager to “treasure hunt” for good-condition used Patagonia gear. And it makes them feel good because it also helps our planet.  But for the most part, they want to grab the best vintage Patagonia hiding in the pile. But why?  Of course, Patagonia vintages are very popular and highly priced in the second-hand market.

If the gear was malfunctioning, you could take it inside the store where “iFixit” is offering free repair for clothes and electronic gadgets.  iFixit is Patagonia’s Common Thread partner.  Their mission is to accumulate the knowledge base for all kinds of repairs, to facilitate longer product  use.



Above: Team iFixit. They were busy fixing clothes and electronic gadgets that customers brought in.
Below: This gentleman found an old Patagonia jacket at Yerdle truck. He fixed the zipper at iFixit booth, and is happily wearing it.

In addition to detailed repair instructions for Patagonia gear,  iFixit shares 19,672 free online repair manuals, covering 5,600 devices (as of May 2016).  iFixit calls for repair not only because it’s better than recycling, but also because it lets you acquire engineering knowledge.  Well, they are right.  I see abundant knowledge here.

I saw many people who brought in their old Patagonia clothes to fix the wear and tear. This gentleman is with his favorite checked shirts he’s been wearing for more than 10 years!  There is some wear around the neck, but the condition looks excellent. 

He claims: “I LOVE Patagonia checked shirts.  I am not an outdoor person, but I just like the checks and colors.  I keep wearing them.”


He is showing me the shirts he’s been wearing for 10 years. He says there are some wear and tear around the neck, but the condition looks very good. I could tell that they were well made, and well taken care of.

He went on to show me Patagonia’s current line of checked shirts and gave me a brief “Patagonia checked shirt 101.”  When the “lecture” was coming from his mouth, it wasn’t anything like a sales pitch.


Good quality light meals and beer were served. Beer is organic, Patagonia special edition brewed by New Belgium Brewing, who is the member of “1% for the Planet,” co-founded by Yvon Chouinard.

The event also included the screening of Patagonia’s short movie “Worn Wear.”  As the title suggests, it is a compilation of Patagonia users’ stories who continue wearing the same gear until they are literally worn out.  They “boast” about their worn clothes  — weathered, ripped and repaired so many times.  Many items are handed down from one generation to the next.

watching worn wear

The peculiar thing is, although the movie is all about worn gear or products that theoretically should have “depreciated” in value – if we were to borrow economic terms – it is far from any tone associated with stinginess, deficiency or sacrifice.  Instead, it is simply filled with a prevailing sense of satisfaction.

This satisfaction overflow strikes me.  How come they can feel so content by wearing the same old rugged clothes instead of replacing them with new ones?

Patagonia produced the event “Celebrate What You Already Have” and the movie “Worn Wear” to explicitly request customers to accept “less,” Patagonia pleas: “don’t buy more.” But even with the outright theme of “less,” I saw abundant enthusiasm, abundant knowledge, abundant love and satisfaction.  It was beautiful.

Why is that?

For the customers gathered at the shop event and the folks who appeared in the movie, accepting “less” does not seem to be a loss or compromise.  They seem to simply enjoy Patagonia’s old clothes (and other peoples’ company too).


There were some food, music and movie. But customers looked to be enjoying doing their own things. They looked very relaxed and enjoying just being at the event.

If that’s the case, is it possible that old clothes are not an inferior substitute for new ones?  Is it that their love for their old gear is not because they cannot afford it, or not because they want to sacrifice their desire to save our planet, but simply because old gear has MORE value than new gear?

To find the answer, please proceed to Zero Narrative: Chapter 1:  The Power of Zero.

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