Patagonia CEO passes reins to non-profit

For the last few decades, Earth and its climate have been steadily declining, awakening a movement for better care and awareness to keep the planet clean. Last week, that movement gained an unexpected but powerful ally.

Yvon Chouinard, the longtime CEO of the clothing company Patagonia, announced on Sept. 14 that he would give the entire company away to a designated trust and nonprofit organization for the sole purpose of combating climate change.

“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,” said Chouinard in an exclusive with the New York Times. “We are going to give away the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working on saving this planet.”

The company, originally founded in 1973 by Chouinard, whose entire career has revolved around the great outdoors, is estimated to be worth around $3 billion.

Holdfast Collective, the non-profit organization receiving 98% of Chouinard’s stake, was designed in order for Patagonia’s $100 million per year profit to be used for protecting and preserving undeveloped areas around the world.

“It’s unusually generous,” said junior communications major Melissa Glasson. “It’ll definitely bring more attention to climate change and help people think of better ways to help the environment.”

Companies such as Apple, HP and Nike have already begun implementing programs that focus on biodiversity, carbon emissions reductions and positive energy efficiency, as well as launching forest restoration projects.

However, will that be enough to combat an ever-changing issue in our society? Estimates predict that by 2030, a mere eight years from now, $4.13 trillion in spending is required to keep Earth’s temperature at a comfortable rate. As of now, there’s only been $632 million (15% of the 2030 target).

It may seem like taking initiatives to combat local issues here in New Jersey — such as the plastic bag ban and county park system clean-up crews  are a major step forward in the fight, but at the end of the day, it depends solely on those in power.

Corporations account for 20% of the current climate change investment, while public sectors and banks invest just as much, if not more. If the planet is to withstand such a drastic change, major companies are going to need to give a little more than usual over the next few years.

Yes, the Inflation Reduction Act passed last month is the biggest climate change initiative in U.S. history (with a whopping $370 billion devoted to renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions), but will CEOs around the globe do their part and provide the money to steer us on the right path?

Let us not forget that when change is needed, especially in something as serious as the well-being of our beautiful planet, it’s not about the names you hear about but the names you don’t hear about or know.

The Chouinards and their monumental contribution should begin a domino effect of dollars and time invested into protecting Earth and its land, air and sea.

Or so one would hope. See you in 2030.