Will the Patagonia founder's gift help save the world?

The sharpest opinions on the debate from around the web

Yvon Chouinard.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images)

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, 83, announced last week that he was giving away the $3 billion outdoor-apparel company he founded to help fight climate change. He said he and his family were giving 100 percent of the company's voting stock to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, which the family will oversee to make sure Patagonia remains socially responsible and honors its environmental commitments. Chouinard said 100 percent of Patagonia's nonvoting stock, equivalent to about 98 percent of the company, would go to the Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit dedicated to "fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature." The family will pay $17 million in taxes connected to the transfer. "Earth is now our only shareholder," the unconventional entrepreneur wrote in a letter posted on the company's website.

Chouinard told The New York Times in an exclusive interview that he never wanted to run a business in the first place. Patagonia sells more than $1 billion worth of jackets, hats, ski pants, and other outdoor apparel every year. This arrangement will direct all the company's profits into buying up sensitive land and fighting climate change, ensuring that it keeps pushing Chouinard's mission long after he's gone. "Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn't end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people," Chouinard told the Times. "We are going to give away the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working on saving this planet." Is this as good for Earth as Chouinard makes it sound?

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Harold Maass, The Week US

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at The Week. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 debut of the U.S. print edition and served as editor of TheWeek.com when it launched in 2008. Harold started his career as a newspaper reporter in South Florida and Haiti. He has previously worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, ABC News and Fox News, and for several years wrote a daily roundup of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance.