The founder of outdoor clothing company Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, has given away the company to a charitable trust.

Patagonia owner gives away company to help save the planet

The founder of outdoor clothing company Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, has given away the company to a charitable trust.

Any profit that Patagonia now makes, not reinvested in the company, will go to fight climate change.

One hundred per cent of the company’s voting stock transfers to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, created to protect the company’s values; and 100 per cent of the nonvoting stock has been given to the Holdfast Collective, a non-profit dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature. The funding will come from Patagonia: Each year, the money they make after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the crisis.

Yvon Chouinard said: “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 own 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.

“We started with our products, using materials that caused less harm to the environment. We gave away one per cent of sales each year. We became a certified B Corp and a California benefit corporation, writing our values into our corporate charter so they would be preserved. More recently, in 2018, we changed the company’s purpose to: We’re in business to save our home planet.

“While we’re doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it’s not enough. We need to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact.

“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.

“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.

“Truth be told, there were no good options available. So, we created our own.

“Instead of “going public,” you could say we’re “going purpose.” 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.”

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