One of my all-time favorite books has recently come up in an unexpected way. The don’t-call-it-nonfiction travelogue Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck, has always hit me squarely on my adventurer’s funny bone.
For those unfamiliar with the book, a late in life Steinbeck decided to travel across the country with his dog Charley in a highly modified camper truck (affectionately named Rocinante) in an effort to place his finger back on the pulse of a nation he so masterfully depicted in such works as The Grapes of Wrath. His journey was captured within the pages of Travels with Charley, and all the colorful people and scenery make for a cross-country story that one might think Kerouac would have seen if he’d not been on so much *ahem* coffee.
My time in Maine taught me to love nature and embrace the “save the planet” ideas that permeated my collegiate bubble. I will always remember the first time I stepped into the Patagonia store in Freeport, picked up a fleece and read that it was made from recycled plastic Coke bottles. The processor in my brain pinwheeled for a few seconds as it tried to compute the possibility of such a phenomenon. Is this real life? Then an image of one of my classmates – a chemistry major who climbed Mt. Khatadin on weekends – came into my head and it all made sense.
This summer, Patagonia decided to expand upon their take on Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Their stores already offer the option for customers to bring in worn out or damaged products to be repaired for a small fee, but they decided to go a step further. Enter Delia.
Delia is Rocinante’s counterpart from Travels with Charley, the retrofitted four-wheeled base of operations. But instead of having spaces for writing, Delia has spaces for sewing. The crew drove across the country repairing people’s well-loved clothing and teaching people how to make repairs themselves so they can avoid the cost and waste of throwing away the old clothes and buying new ones. Their message was simply: buying quality clothing and mending yourself benefits you and the planet.