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Practicing what he preaches, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard donates the entire $3 billion of his apparel company’s valuation to fight climate change.
As staunch an activist as you could find, Chouinard was “really pissed off” to see himself in a business news article as being valued as a billionaire, so his response was to announce that all profits in perpetuity shall go to the Patagonia Purpose Trust for helping prevent environmental disaster.
“I never wanted to be a businessman,” Chouinard wrote. “I started as a craftsman, making climbing gear for my friends and myself, then got into apparel.”
At 83, Chouinard worked with a team of lawyers alongside his family to create a model that would allow the company to continue to operate as a for-profit enterprise, but that would also act as a fundraising engine on the environment’s behalf.
2% of the family’s stock will fund an effort to ensure the company remains committed to Chouinard’s values, while the other 98% will go to projects that protect habitat and biodiversity, and fight the environmental crisis.
Patagonia has long been known as a company that does everything it can to support the environment, such as donating 1% of profits every year since 2001, amounting to $140 million, to projects that protect and restore vulnerable ecosystems, or even opening a regenerative ag-based brewery that uses a perennial grain called Kernza instead of wheat to make beer.
“While we’re doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it’s not enough,” Chouinard continued. “We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact.”
Chouinard and the staff considered going public in a bid to drive investor money towards the cause, but concluded that the pressure for growth and responsibility to shareholders would have made it impossible.
Instead of going public, Patagonia explain they are “going purpose,” by devoting their products and projects to their one and only shareholder — Earth.