the unwash • sustainability
Patagonia is no stranger to taking a firm stance on its commitment to the environment and environmental economics, but the beloved outdoor brand recently took this a step further. Upon the 50th anniversary of the company’s inception, founder Yvon Chouinard and his family announced that the company would be handing over control to a trust and non-profit – instead of taking the company public or selling. 100% of profits that are not directly going back into the business will be distributed through the Holdfast Collective to contribute to fighting the climate crisis. Although the family will continue to have majority stock in the company through the Patagonia Purpose Trust, Yvon didn’t want to be part of the billionaire culture of not using their immense wealth for positive change. For 50 years, Patagonia has created a standard of what being a responsible business means and is continuing to make strides while thinking about the company’s future.
The brand is valued at nearly 3 billion dollars and continues to grow. From a consumer standpoint, their steadfast dedication to climate conservation helps to draw more people to the brand. Yvon discussed the idea of selling the company and donating all of the profits but ultimately wanted to keep the integrity of the brand’s values for consumers and employees. In a statement made after announcing the change in business structure for Patagonia, Yvon stated that part of their decision to go this route was because “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”. When companies are acquired, the ethos of the brand often begins to dissolve as profitability becomes the largest concern. Small and large companies face the problem of navigating how to stay true to what initially drew in consumers. Patagonia found a way to pave its own path with restructuring to remain true to its environmental and social values.
“We’re making Earth our only shareholder. I am dead serious about saving this planet.” – Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia Founder
The Holdfast Collective will use funds in many ways, such as land and water conservation, advocating for environmental policy, and opening up grant opportunities to organizations aiding in solving the climate crisis. Patagonia has been outspoken on the brand’s beliefs for years and will continue its commitment to advocacy work. While many companies with a similar magnitude as Patagonia tend to take a backseat in making significant political statements, Patagonia has made these values synonymous with the brand’s identity. The brand now states that the Earth is its only majority shareholder and that this change was not only to protect the company but to think about the future of the Earth and, ultimately, how the brand can continue to engage in environmental progress. Both the Patagonia founder and CEO have shared the same sentiment that the current state of capitalism has only driven the destruction of the planet and disproportional wealth distribution. As leaders in the company and the industry as a whole want to do their due diligence in climate restoration. Patagonia is putting their wealth back into the planet – something that shouldn’t seem so radical but ultimately is.
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