Written by Naomi May
The founder and CEO of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard has announced he’s given away his company to set up a trust to help combat climate change.
Among the sea of greenwashing that the fashion industry has become, there are few stakeholders that are genuinely and truly, with the clearest of intentions, trying to fight the good fight of combatting climate change.
One such fashion industry figure using his wealth, status and clout to make considerable change is Patagonia founder and CEO Yvon Chouinard, who has transferred his company, which is valued at $3 billion, to a trust that has been established to combat climate change.
“As of now, Earth is our only shareholder,” the company announced. “ALL profits, in perpetuity, will go to our mission to ‘save our home planet’.”
83-year-old Chouinard and his wife and two children have been re-configuring the structure of Patagonia to create a structure that will allow the brand to continue to make money but ensure the proceeds will be donated to benefit environmental efforts.
In a letter penned by Chouinard, the founder explained that he had been grappling with various predicaments in trying to comprehend how he could use Patagonia’s monetary value to create a positive difference.
“One option was to sell Patagonia and donate all the money. But we couldn’t be sure a new owner would maintain our values or keep our team of people around the world employed,” he writes. “Another path was to take the company public. What a disaster that would have been. Even public companies with good intentions are under too much pressure to create short-term gain at the expense of long-term vitality and responsibility.”
Instead, Patagonia has established its own solution, which will fund Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature.
Patagonia, which was founded in 1973, began donating 1% of its sales to environmental groups in the 80s as part of its its “1% for the Planet” scheme. The programme has resulted in $140m being donated to organisations striving for the preservation and restoration of the natural environment.
Chouinard’s letter conceded: “Despite its immensity, the Earth’s resources are not infinite, and it’s clear we’ve exceeded its limits. But it’s also resilient. We can save our planet if we commit to it.”
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