God save Yvon Chouinard!
Last week, Jay-Z made an honest effort to convince us that terms and slogans like “capitalist” and “eat the rich” were derogatory and invented to bring down the Black community. But the truth of the matter is billionaires are evil. They are not only a sign of economic failure, but they’re also extremely bad for the environment.
The billionaire owner of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, knows this. He announced yesterday (September 14) that he is giving his entire company away to fight against climate change.
Patagonia, which was founded in 1973, is known for its dedication to environmentalism and community care. In 1984, the brand opened an on-site cafeteria offering nutritional vegetarian food and provided on-site child care. In 1986, Chouinard announced that the company would be committing ten per cent of profits to environmental activism. This commitment included paying people to work on ecological projects so they could commit to their projects full time. In 2002, Chouinard founded the 1 per cent for the Planet, and Patagonia became the first enterprise to dedicate one per cent of annual sales to the environment.
In an open letter to customers, Chouinard wrote, “Despite its immensity, the Earth’s resources are not infinite, and it’s clear we’ve exceeded its limits. So instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth, we are using the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source.” The Chouinard family will transfer all ownership to two new entities, The Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective. Through the Patagonia Trust, Chouinard will only own two per cent of its total stock. Patagonia will donate £87 million annually to environmental causes depending on the company’s health.
Even though philanthropy (which primarily benefits the super rich) should be met with suspicion, Chouinard’s efforts past and present appear genuine. As we head into “uncharted territory” with the climate crisis, we need all the help we can get to reverse climate change.