What Patagonia’s CEO Has Learned a Year Into the Company’s ‘Radical Experiment'
They've found humans need to extract much less from the planet
A year ago, Patagonia began doing business under a new ownership model. Our founders are no longer the owners, and a trust and a nonprofit now oversee and hold all the financial value of the company. All money not reinvested back in the business is instead invested in protecting our planet, the most important shareholder of all.
After one year of living this radical experiment, what have we learned? Quite a bit. Above all, we’ve reaffirmed what we’ve long believed: we need to extract much less from the planet, which will require collective action and achievable shifts in behavior.
Well before our change in ownership, we were a company with a climate strategy, working to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions we create and to protect nature, especially where fossil fuel development and the destruction of forests threaten land and water systems. For decades, we have also focused our advocacy on community-led environmental efforts, starting with where we have global offices and stores, from protecting a local surf break near our headquarters in Ventura, California, in the early 1970s to now helping government and NGO partners in Albania establish Europe’s first wild river national park. In more recent years, we have also ramped up our support to frontline communities that have been hurt the most by pollution and the climate crisis. We have put pressure on financial institutions to cut investment in the worst fossil fuel projects. And because the current system of voluntary reporting and glossy marketing commitments is not cutting it, we’ve also been at work developing a point of view on how public policy can effectively curb pollution and address the climate crisis, backing legislation such as the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bureau of Land Management Public Lands Rule, and most recently, the California climate disclosure bills and the New York Fashion Act. We want to be an effective advocate for policy changes that are ambitious enough to save our home planet, but achievable enough to get passed into law.
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