Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard Has Opinions on Things

Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard: If you’re not familiar with Yvon Chouinard, the outspoken and highly-focused founder of gear manufacturer Patagonia, then the first thing you should know is that he is a huge advocate for fighting climate change.

So much so that he had dedicated his company — which is still privately owned — to ensuring that it is as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible, even at the possible expense of being profitable. Recently, Chouinard sat down for an interview with Fast Company, and for those who know him it is an entertaining read. Those who don’t, will probably find it truly eye-opening.

The interview begins with a quote from Chouinard that he gave the Los Angles Times way back in 1994, saying that fighting climate change is “completely hopeless.” Yet here we are, nearly three decades later and he continues the fight. Since then, Patagonia has launched numerous sustainability efforts, including converting much of its gear over to using recycled fabrics and other materials.

He has also helped launch 1% For the Planet, which is an alliance of outdoor brands who have pledged to donate 1% of their profits to helping environmental groups battle climate change. While doing all of this, as Fast Company points out, Chouinard also managed to turn Patagonia into a billion dollar brand.

In this far-reaching interview, Yvon discusses the challenges of owning a company and running a business while also working towards a sustainable footprint. He also discusses bringing sustainability to Patagonia’s supply chain, and shares his thoughts on other billionaires — namely Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk — spending their fortunates on the pursuit of space travel.

He touches on the threats to the Amazon, the current U.S. president’s actions opening up logging in Alaska, and other environmental concerns. He also talks about the role that business can play in being better stewards for the environment. Other topics of discussion include the so-called “Green New Deal,” the use of short films to push his environmental message, ways that we can all help protect the environment, and so much more.

It’s a bit of a long read, but well worth it if you want to learn more about Chouinard and the things that Patagonia is doing to become a more responsible, sustainable, and forward-thinking company. Check it out in its entirety here.

Kraig Becker