Meet American billionaire who is donating his fashion firm to combat climate change

First Published Sep 15, 2022, 1:27 PM IST

The billionaire and founder of the outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, announced his company’s donation to a charitable trust. Under the new ownership structure, any profit not reinvested in the company’s operations would be used to combat climate change. According to Yvon Chouinard, this will amount to around $100 billion annually.

Patagonia, founded in 1973 by Yvon Chouinard, sells hiking and other outdoor clothing in over ten countries. This year, the company’s revenue is expected to be $1.5 billion, while Yvon Chouinard’s net worth is estimated to be $1 billion, according to the BBC.

Chouinard has stated that he never intended to be a businessman. He began making climbing gear for himself and his friends as he was passionate about rock climbing. He then ventured into clothing, founding Patagonia in 1973.

Yvon Chouinard wrote a letter titled ‘Earth is now our only shareholder,’ which was posted on the company’s website on Wednesday, explaining his decision.

“Despite its vastness, the Earth’s resources are finite, and it is clear that we have reached their limits. Rather than extracting value from nature and converting it into wealth, we are using the wealth created by Patagonia to protect the source,” Yvon Chouinard explained.

“To be honest, there were no viable alternatives. So we made our own,” he continued.

“If we could do the right thing while making enough to pay the bills,” Chouinard explained, “We could influence customers and other businesses and maybe change the system along the way.”

Patagonia began donating one per cent of its annual sales to the environment seven years after it was founded. It formalised the donations in 2001 as the “1 per cent for the Planet Scheme.”

“We’ve given over $140 million in cash and in-kind donations to domestic and international grassroots environmental organisations that are making a difference in their communities,” Patagonia said.

In addition, the company helped employees who worked on local environmental projects.

Patagonia was one of the first companies to be certified as a b-Corporation, a private certification of a company’s “social and environmental performance.”

In line with its values, Patagonia changed its purpose in 2018 to “we are in business to save our home planet.”

The company’s founder’s most recent contribution distinguishes him from other wealthy businessmen.

Last year, Matthew Moulding of Hut Group, which owns several online beauty and nutrition brands, donated £100 million to a charitable foundation.

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Last Updated Sep 15, 2022, 1:30 PM IST


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