Rock climber by choice and billionaire by chance, founder and former majority shareholder of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard has just donated his company to save the planet he loves from the climate crisis. This month, the sad business mogul made Historic decision To transfer his ownership of the company to the newly created Patagonia Purpose Trust dedicated to upholding the company’s values and Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the planet.
Chouinard released a statement emphasizing that he never hoped to become an entrepreneur, but with Patagonia, he tried to improve how sustainable business is run. Now, 100 percent of the company’s voting shares (2 percent of the company) will be awarded to the Patagonia Purpose Trust while 98 percent of the company’s total stock will be given to Holdfast Collective for Environmental Service.
“Earth is now our only shareholder.” Chouinard wrote in a statement addressing the decision. While we do our best to tackle the environmental crisis, this is not enough. We needed to find a way to invest more money in the face of the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact. Truth be told, there were no good options available. So, we created our own.”
From now on, Holdfast Collective will receive the company’s estimated annual dividend of approximately $100 million. The organization is dedicated to restoring biodiversity, protecting vulnerable ecosystems, and supporting communities around the world.
“It’s been nearly 50 years since we started our responsible business experiment, and we’re just getting started. If we have any hope of a thriving planet—let alone a thriving business—50 years from now, it will take all we do with the resources we can. We have. This is another way we’ve found to do our part,” Chouinard’s statement continues. “Earth’s resources, though huge, are not infinite, and we are clearly beyond their limits. But they are also resilient. We can save our planet if we stick to them.”
Chouinard champions a planet-friendly lifestyle
Caring for the environment is nothing new to Chouinard or Patagonia. In 2020, the company released a statement urging its customers to “vote for out-of-office climate deniers.” Since its inception, the Patagonian Corporation model has prioritized the environment, launching several programs designed to improve production standards. Currently, 88 percent of the materials sourced from the company are preferred materials including organic and renewable cotton, hemp, recycled polyester and recycled nylon.
Prior to the transfer of ownership, Patagonia gave up one percent of sales each year, earned B Corp certification and California Benefits Corporation certification, and redesigned its value to raise the bar for the planet. But Chouinard thought that wasn’t enough and that the Patagonian brand could better serve the planet. Despite criticism that it is motivated by a tax advantage, the Holdfast Collective is 501(c)(4), which means it allows unlimited political contributions.
Dan Mosley, the company partner who helped Patagonia design the new chassis, BDT & Partners, said New York times. And they didn’t get a charitable discount for it. There are no tax advantages here at all.”
After the transfer, driving will remain the same. The new business structure will introduce a new, greener way of doing business, redistributing wealth from executives to the planets. Ryan Gellert will continue to serve as CEO and the Chouinard family will retain their seats on the Patagonia Board of Directors.
“Two years ago, the Chouinard family challenged a few of us to develop a new chassis with two central goals,” Gilert said in a statement. They wanted us to protect the purpose of the business and to immediately and permanently release more funding to combat the environmental crisis. We believe this new structure fulfills both and hope it inspires a new way of doing business that puts people and the planet first.”
Eating for the Planet
Transforming our food systems to become more sustainable has been increasingly highlighted as a potential solution to the climate crisis, and Chouinard is on board, eating a plant-based diet to help save the planet.
Chouinard eats from the organic salad bar at Patagonia HQ in Ventura, Cali, according to a recent press report from mountain outlaw. The interviewer testified that he “stacks vegetables on a plate for lunch, choosing spinach, kale, romaine, edamame, radishes, fennel, quinoa, and cashews.” Then he adds mashed sweet potatoes and black bean pancakes. She added that he inspected, like the rest of the Patagonian staff. “As founder and owner of Patagonia’s leading outdoor clothing and gear retailer, Chouinard pays for his food in the company’s subsidized cafeteria, just like everyone else.”
While Chouinard doesn’t eat entirely vegan, he does ensure that everything in his diet is sustainably produced, harvested, or obtained. In 2012, he started Patagonia Provisions, which sells exclusively organic grains or sustainably caught salmon products.
“Every business needs to change its mission statement to save the planet,” he said at the time. “I really think we need a revolution, [and] The only revolution we are likely to see is in agriculture. It solves a huge number of the world’s problems.”
How diet helps curb climate change
Currently, 85 percent of the world is facing a climate crisis, according to researchers from Mercator Research Center. With heat waves, massive floods and severe storms threatening the lives of millions around the world, climate action can no longer be delayed. This means that governments will be required to regulate agricultural industries to avoid climate disasters.
Oxford University researchers have concluded that without consuming meat and dairy, we could use 75 percent less land for agriculture, according to Watchman. By adopting a plant-based diet, consumers can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 61 percent.
With the help of ProVeg International, the United Nations will host a food-focused climate event at this year’s COP27 Climate Change Conference. The Food4Climate booth will help educate guests on how to protect the planet, starting with reforming food production.
For more planetary events, visit The Beet’s Environmental News.
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