Patagonia founder donates company | Action against climate crisis

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard. Photo by Campbell Brewer

In a groundbreaking move, the founder of the outdoor brand Patagonia has transferred ownership of his multi-billion pound company to two entities focused on fighting climate change. 

“We’re making Earth our only shareholder,” founder Yvon Chouinard states in an official letter to customers. It’s nearly 50 years since he began his experiment in responsible business, and now he is laying out well-meaning intentions for the next 50 years. 

“Instead of ‘going public’, you could say we’re ‘going purpose’,” said Chouinard. “Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth for investors, we’ll use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source of all wealth.” 

Rather than selling the company or taking it public, the Chouinard family has transferred all ownership to the specially designed Patagonia Purpose Trust and non-profit organisation Holdfast Collective. This planet-first move ensures the company’s independence is preserved and it means that all of its profits – some $100 million a year – go towards combatting climate change and protecting undeveloped land globally. 

Patagonia corporate headquarters in Ventura, California, 2016. Photo by Kyle Sparks

A passionate traveller and explorer, Yvon Chouinard first became famous for alpine climbs in Yosemite. In his official letter, he explains: “I never wanted to be a businessman. I started as a craftsman, making climbing gear for my friends and myself, then got into apparel.”

“As we began to witness the extent of global warming and ecological destruction, and our contribution to it, Patagonia committed to using our company to change the way business was done. If we could do the right thing while making enough to pay the bills, we could influence customers and other businesses, and maybe change the system along the way.” 

Patagonia will remain a B Corp and continue to give 1 per cent of sales each year to grassroots activists.

Read the full letter by Yvon Chouinard on the Patagonia website.

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