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Patagonia founder hands over company in bold move to fight climate change

"I am dead serious about saving this planet," he said.

"Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth, we are using the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source," founder Yvon Choulnard said. File Photo by longtaildog/Shutterstock
"Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth, we are using the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source," founder Yvon Choulnard said. File Photo by longtaildog/Shutterstock

Sept. 15 (UPI) -- The founder of popular outdoor retailer Patagonia says he's turned over total control of the company, which is worth roughly $3 billion, to two environmental non-profits for their fight against climate change.

Founder Yvon Chouinard announced the move in a letter posted to the Patagonia website late on Wednesday. Choulnard founded the outdoor gear company 50 years ago and has always been environmentally conscious.

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"Earth is now our only shareholder," Chouinard said in a statement.

"It's been a half-century since we began our experiment in responsible business. If we have any hope of a thriving planet 50 years from now, it demands all of us doing all we can with the resources we have."

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The Chouinard family has transferred the company to non-profits Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective. The company said every dollar that's not reinvested will be distributed as dividends to protect the planet.

"As the business leader I never wanted to be, I am doing my part," Chouinard added. "Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth, we are using the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source.

"I am dead serious about saving this planet."

Yvon Chouinard, the 83-year-old founder of Patagonia, says he decided to hand over the outdoor retailer to help in the global climate crisis. Photo courtesy Campbell Brewer/Patagonia
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The Patagonia Purpose Trust now owns all of Patagonia's voting stock and 2% of total shares. It was founded to create a more permanent legal structure to enshrine the company's purpose and values.

The Holdfast Collective, on the other hand, now owns all of Patagonia's non-voting stock, which amounts to 98% of all shares. It said that all revenue will go toward protecting nature and biodiversity, supporting thriving communities and fighting the climate crisis.

"Two years ago, the Chouinard family challenged a few of us to develop a new structure with two central goals," Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert said in a statement. "They wanted us to both protect the purpose of the business and immediately and perpetually release more funding to fight the environmental crisis.

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"We believe this new structure delivers on both and we hope it will inspire a new way of doing business that puts people and planet first."

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