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Why Has Yvon Chouinard Handed Patagonia To Trust?
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Blog...Why Has Yvon Chouinard Handed Patagonia To Trust?

Why Has Yvon Chouinard Handed Patagonia To Trust?

Ecology News
Global Warming
Patagonia becomes the property of a trust, while its profits will be donated to an ecological NGO. Read more about Yvon Chouinard's donation.
Ecology News
2024-05-10T00:00:00.000Z
en-us

Patagonia, the outdoor clothing brand - valued at three billion dollars - becomes the property of a trust. Meanwhile, its profits will now be donated to an ecological association, whose mission is to devote 100% of these profits to the protection of the environment.

What should we know about the donation of Yvon Chouinard? Here is the answer.

What happened to Patagonia?

If the dimension of the motion took the world by surprise, the decision of the founder of Patagonia’s brand isn’t so surprising in the end.

Renowned for his commitment to the environment’s protection, Yvon Chouinard (83 years old) decided to donate his business. No more, no less.

Indeed, in most cases, the owners of a given brand - like Yvon Chouinard - decide to sell the brand or take it public, instead of giving it away. Especially when it is as expensive as Patagonia - valued at three billion dollars.

With the agreement of his family, Yvon Chouinard chose to transfer 100% of their shares in the company to a trust, whose mission is to ensure the respect of the values ​​dear to Patagonia's founder. In addition, the company’s profits will now be donated to an NGO working to protect the environment.

Who is Yvon Chouinard ?

man pratice hiking in moutainsman pratice hiking in moutains

Yvon Chouinard is first and foremost a mountaineer, having surveyed the cliffs of Yosemite in California.

His career began in the 1960s, when he started to manufacture and sell his own climbing pitons.

Before Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard started importing rugby polo shirts. One thing led to another, and soon sports clothing was manufactured (particularly for mountain sports).

In 1973, Patagonia was officially created.

👉 Yvon Chouinard's observation was simple: wool is not an optimal material, because it becomes heavy and cold if it is subjected to humidity. For this reason, the founder of Patagonia works on an alternative and simply creates the first fleece jacket.

However, Yvon Chouinard quickly showed his desire not to become an actor of ordinary consumerism. Patagonia tripled their turnover in a few years, but in 1985, its founder already decided to devote 1% of this money to the environment. Likewise, in the early 1990s, he already prefered organic cotton and recycled polyester.

Patagonia never hid their commitment to the environment: the company signed an advertising campaign that has remained famous: "Don't buy this jacket", published in the New York Times during Black-Friday back in 2011.

Why did Yvon Chouinard give away Patagonia’s company?

Yvon Chouinard did not beat around the bush. To him, "an IPO would have been a 'disaster’".

Patagonia’s founder believed that this first option would have sounded the death knell of the path he had followed throughout these years as the head of the company.

Indeed, listed companies are - according to Yvon Chouinard - “under too much pressure to create short-term gain at the expense of long-term vitality and responsibility”.

What about the sale of Patagonia? The option was seriously considered, but suffered from the uncertainty it also induced for the survival of the values ​​dear to Yvon Chouinard.

Why is Patagonia such a unique example in the textile industry?

Because the textile industry pollutes a lot. Especially brands working in the “fast-fashion” industry.

The carbon footprint of the fashion sector is 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 per year, or nearly 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

And the trend is not improving: without radical change, this figure could reach 26% by 2050.

There are many explanations for this disaster. However, the overconsumption of clothing - encouraged by brands renewing their collections more often than necessary - and the increasing use of polyester play a major role in this problem. Not to mention the thousands of kilometers our wardrobes travel, as they are often produced on the other side of the world...

As a reminder, polyester emits three times more CO2 than cotton during its life cycle. The cotton itself is the main pesticide-consuming crop in the world. It also induces a high water consumption - a cotton t-shirt representing on average the equivalent of 70 showers.

This is also the reason why a brand such as Patagonia has decided, since 1996, to use exclusively organic cotton - grown without pesticides  - for the manufacture of their collections.

The company has also rolled out a trial to grow organic cotton in more than 150 farms, and is still currently testing “Regenerative Organic” practices with growers located in India.

👉 Water needs do not vary from one cotton plant to another - organic or not. On the other hand, the cultivation of organic cotton is more economical, insofar as the soils devoid of pesticides better retain water and humidity (thanks to the increased quantity of organic matter). In this context, the cotton plant’s needs for external irrigation are less. Moreover, it is important to underline that toxic products associated with conventional cotton growing should always be diluted with water before use.

How can you act to reduce the environmental impact of your textile consumption?

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to spend a lot of money to have an eco-responsible attitude regarding clothing.

If you want to help reduce the environmental impact of your consumption, you can:

  • regulate the quantity of your purchases by questioning yourself on the real need for each new item - do you really need it? ;
  • keep your clothes as long as possible (do not hesitate to take your belongings to the dressmaker or the shoemaker, for example);
  • turn to second-hand shopping through sites like Vinted;
  • sort out and offer your own clothes to the second-hand market;
  • avoid fast-fashion brands as much as possible.

In addition, if you buy less and more occasionally, you will probably be able to buy eco-responsible brands offering more expensive but better quality clothes - that you will wear for several years.

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