As the damage caused by human beings to the planet due to the indiscriminate use of natural resources becomes increasingly evident, concern for the environment gains strength, unleashing the altruism of ordinary people but also of businessmen who prefer to leave aside selfishness and thirst for wealth.
This is the case of Yvon Chouinard, the founder of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia, who at the age of 83 transferred his empire to a trust and an NGO committed to preserving the environment. In this way, the annual profits of the brand will be donated 100 percent to benefit the planet and the fight against climate change.
Yvon Chouinard never wanted to be a businessman or at least that is what he says about himself through an open letter in which the man announces his admirable work. The non-profit transfer is an extraordinary step, even for a company whose social, ecological and political commitment is consciously part of the essence of the brand.
Earth is now our sole shareholder. He never wanted to be a businessman. I started out as a craftsman, making climbing gear for myself and my friends before moving on to clothing.
– Yvon Chouinard, through a letter published on the Patagonia website
In addition, Chouinard said that he chose this sole ownership model and did not want to sell the company, valued at more than three billion dollars, to an owner who could jeopardize the values of the brand.
Founded almost fifty years ago, Patagonia quickly became involved in protecting nature, taking care of its raw materials and donating one percent of its sales each year to environmental organizations. In fact, it was one of the first clothing brands to make its products with organic cotton, back in 1996.
Similarly, Patagonia also became the first brand to adopt California public benefit status, in 2012. Additionally, in 2018 it officially changed the company’s mission to “save the planet.”
It is therefore quite natural that Yvon, on the verge of retirement, decided, in agreement with his wife and two children, to give up all of his shares to help fight climate change and protect nature.
According to the magazine ForbesYvon Chouinard doesn’t own a computer or a cell phone, but he still has an estimated fortune of $1.2 billion. Finally, with this gesture, the businessman hopes “to influence a new form of capitalism that does not lead to the coexistence of a few rich and many poor.”
It has been almost 50 years since we began our responsible business experiment and we are only at the beginning. If we want to have any hope of a thriving planet 50 years from now, let alone a thriving business, we must all do what we can with the resources at our disposal. This is another way we have found to do our part.