Yvon Chouinard, a mountaineer who loves the outdoors and co-founded the $3 billion Patagonia empire, has taken the most extreme action ever for the head of a major apparel company: he has divested his entire business, dividing it between a trust called the Patagonia Purpose Trust and a nonprofit group devoted to environmental protection called the Holdfast Collective. Both businesses were established to maintain the business’s total independence and guarantee that its $100 million in yearly sales are used exclusively to combat climate change and protect natural areas.The company will so continue to operate as usual, but its enormous assets will no longer belong to the Chouinard family, which will also pay $17.5 million in taxes on the contribution because it gave the trust 2% of its voting stock. The New York Times points out that the charitable act comes at a time in history when the public is paying closer attention than ever to the actions and wastefulness of celebrities and billionaires. Additionally, the public is becoming more aware of greenwashing techniques, as demonstrated by the recent backlash against Kourtney Kardashian’s selection as the sustainability ambassador of the fast fashion company Boohoo.
Instead, the remaining 98 percent of the company’s shares were given to the Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit entity whose legal and tax structure permits unlimited political donations and which will eat up all of the brand’s income. It should be underlined once more that this second donation will not provide the family with any perks or tax breaks. «Hopefully, this will influence a new kind of capitalism that doesn’t produce a small number of really wealthy individuals and a large number of extremely poor people. The now-former owner and head of the Chouinard family declared, “We are going to give away the most money possible to people who are actively trying to save this world.”Even analysts have been taken aback by the family’s generosity, who have noted that even the world’s wealthiest people frequently donate much smaller portions of their fortunes while receiving significant tax breaks. The family has already donated $50 million to the Holdfast Collective and will give another $100 million by the end of the year without receiving a single tax benefit. I had no idea what to do with the business because I had never wanted one. I had no interest in running a business. Now I don’t have to be here since the company will carry on acting morally for the next 50 years even if I pass away tomorrow”, continued Chouinard.