$5 T-shirts are readily available today, and that did not occur by accident. In fact, the existence of the $5 t-shirt has profound implications for the type of society in which we live. Firms themselves do not impose a $5 t-shirt on us – that’s not how markets operate. Instead, if we as consumers tell firms, with our purchase decisions and materialistic values, that we want to buy six T-shirts for $30, rather than two T-shirts for that same $30 – that is what the market will provide. This is not simply an economic decision, but one that is loaded with values that have monumental consequences for the kind of society in which we live—one that values quantity over quality, material goods over holistic well-being, and short-term comfort over long-term sustainability.
Let’s look at an example that demonstrates this mutually dependent relationship between markets and stakeholders.
Patagonia’s Product Lifecycle Initiative seeks “to include consumers in Patagonia’s vision of environmental responsibility. An internal document articulated that reducing Patagonia’s environmental footprint required a pledge from both the company and its customers. The initiative thus consisted of a mutual contract between the company and its customers to ‘reduce, repair, reuse, and recycle’ the apparel that they consumed,”