Patagonia boss pledges billion dollar company to fight climate change

·4 min read
 A Patagonia store signage is seen on Greene Street on September 14, 2022 in New York City. Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, his spouse and two adult children announced that they will be giving away the ownership of their company which is worth about $3 billion. The company's privately held stock will be now be owned by a climate-focused trust and group of nonprofit organizations, called the Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective, and all the profits that are not reinvested into the business will be used to fight climate change.
A Patagonia store signage is seen on Greene Street on September 14, 2022 in New York City. Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, his spouse and two adult children announced that they will be giving away the ownership of their company which is worth about $3 billion. The company's privately held stock will be now be owned by a climate-focused trust and group of nonprofit organizations, called the Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective, and all the profits that are not reinvested into the business will be used to fight climate change.

Patagonia boss Yvon Chouinard revealed the news in a statement that explained his reasoning for such a bold move. 

The company, founded back in 1973, has become known as the purveyor of cozy jumpers; some of the best winter coats; and its iconic logo which has become uber stylish as the years have gone by. Not bad considering its founder sort of fell into it.

"I never wanted to be a businessman," explained the 83-year-old in the statement. "I started as a craftsman, making climbing gear for my friends and myself, then got into apparel." Patagonia's sales, per the BBC, were approximately $1.5B this year, and the accidental businessman is believed to be worth $1.2B.

After considering selling Patagonia and donating the money from the sale to charity, he was beset by concerns for the job stability of his huge workforce. Another option, taking the company public and using proceeds to fund the important work, didn't seem right either. So, the maverick made his own choice. "Truth be told," he said, "there were no good options available. So, we created our own."

Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard speaks onstage during the Inaugural Tribeca X: A Day of Conversations Celebrating the Intersection of Entertainment and Advertising sponsored by PwC on April 26, 2019 at Spring Studios in New York City.
Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard speaks onstage during the Inaugural Tribeca X: A Day of Conversations Celebrating the Intersection of Entertainment and Advertising sponsored by PwC on April 26, 2019 at Spring Studios in New York City.

Patagonia has become known for its commitment to sustainability, placing itself among the best sustainable fashion brands in the world. They also donate 1% of annual sales to help support grassroots climate change activism. For Yvon, despite the amount his company is already doing to fight the environmental crisis, it's simply not enough.

The Patagonia Purpose Trust, led by the Chouinard family, will continue to be the company's principal shareholder, but they'll only own 2% of Patagonia's stock. "We need to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact," said Yvon. "The funding will come from Patagonia: Each year, the money we make after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the crisis."

They'll help guide the Holdfast Collective, "a nonprofit dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature," which now owns 100% of the nonvoting stock.

Patagonia Vosque 3-in-1 Parka

RRP: $499 / £450 | Winter is coming and if you're looking for one of the best waterproof jackets, Patagonia make great high-performance clothing. This weather-ready parka has a waterproof/breathable barrier to keep you protected.

Patagonia Feather Grey T-shirt

RRP: $49 / £40 | One of the best sustainable clothing brand, every item at Patagonia is considered and built to last. Made from 100% recycled polyester, the t-shirt also features HeiQ® Pure odor control for a more comfortable, all-day wear.

Patagonia Maipo Purple 7/8 Tights

RRP: $99 / £80 | Crafted for multisport activity, from running, hiking or partaking in a yoga session, these leggings are made to support your every movement. They also utilize recycled fishing nets in their construction to decrease ocean pollution.

For this lover of all things outdoors, focussing on tackling the climate emergency is to be his legacy. "Despite its immensity," he adds, signing off his statement, "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."

Yvon is joining a burgeoning bunch of billionaires, who are eager to use their money to make the world a better place. Many of these mega-rich individuals have even signed up for an agreement known as The Giving Pledge. This pledge is, "a promise by the world's wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to charitable causes."