yesterday, september 14th, 2022, founder of patagonia yvon chouinard gave away his 3 billion dollar company stating the soon-to-be iconic phrase "earth is now our only shareholder."
the self-proclaimed "reluctant businessman" started patagonia in 1973, after making climbing gear and apparel for him and his friends. realizing how much the fashion industry spoon feeds the global climate crisis, once he entered into it, he knew that patagonia had to be built in a way that would help combat climate change. and that's exactly what he did, and will continue to do.
how patagonia is helping the earth:
- 100% renewable energy for our owned and operated stores, offices and distribution centers
- they use only organically grown cotton in all products
- 88% of products use 'preferred materials' - which includes organic and regenerative organic cotton, hemp, recycled polyester and recycled nylon, among others.
- they have cofounded or joined numerous progressive coalitions to change the industry, including the Fair Labor Association, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and B Lab.
- pledged 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment.
this doesn't even include all their future plans to continue to combat climate change.
so what does this recent news mean for the company & the earth?
despite their historical efforts to help save the planet, yvon claims "it’s not enough."..."each year, the money we make after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the crisis," says yvon, in his open letter.
though making the company public, or selling it, would make the founder and his family exorbitant amounts of money, he chose to take a different route. like chouinard said, "i never wanted to be a businessman".
the holdfast collective
this not-for-profit is being funded by 100% of the nonvoting stocks of patagonia. they "will use every dollar received to fight the environmental crisis, protect nature and biodiversity, and support thriving communities, as quickly as possible", as stated on patagonia's site.
patagonia purpose trust
"the patagonia purpose trust was created solely to protect our company’s values and mission. It owns all of the voting stock of the company." this trust, along with the companies ceo, will be running the business moving forward. patagonia's values will be maintained through this initiative.
what we can learn from patagonia
patagonia's mission was to change the way business was done, in a way that didn't hurt people, or the environment. in chouinard's book titled "let my people go surfing", his goal was to “use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
the book was aptly named after patagonia's policy that allowed employees to enjoy their life outside work with a flexible work schedule. "when the waves are good, surf. when there’s powder on the mountains, ski."
this historical decision will undoubtedly change the business world. hopefully it will encourage other billion-dollar companies to pursue earth-saving endeavours.
if you're not a business owner, and just a person, hopefully this will inspire you to create positive change in your everyday life. hopefully it will prove to you that supporting a sustainable business can make a difference. hopefully, changes like this will help us and our ecosystems live a little bit longer and happier.
“at patagonia, making a profit is not the goal because the zen master would say profits happen 'when you do everything else right'.” - yvon chouinard