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Billionaire gives company away to fight climate change

The founder of a fashion company has given his company away to a charitable trust which is ‘dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis’.

Yvon Chouinard, who founded outdoor clothing company Patagonia, says that any profit the company makes will go to the Holdfast Collective. The ownership of the company has been moved from the family to a trust and a non-profit organisation and its website now says ‘Earth is our only shareholder’.

The philosophy of California-based Patagonia has always been the opposite of fast fashion, instead charging more money for clothing that is meant to last a lifetime.

The company hit the headlines in 2015 with a marketing campaign that told consumers ‘Don’t buy this jacket’, asking them too consider the cost to the environment.

Chouinard claimed he was ‘turning capitalism on its head’, saying: “Despite its immensity, the Earth's resources are not infinite, and it's clear we've exceeded its limits.” He claimed that the profits to be donated to climate causes will be around £87m per year.

Fashion expert Sandra Halliday told the BBC that this was no skeptical move on Chouinard’s behalf. She said: “If this was simply a marketing ploy it would be an inspired one, but it's not, it's actually a genuine move to try to do something better for the planet.”

Professor of organisation studies at the University of Technology in Sydney, Carl Rhodes, wrote in The Guardian: “It is great that Chouinard is putting his company to work for the future of the planet. What is not great is how our lives and our futures are increasingly dependent on the power and generosity of the rich elite, rather than ruled by the common will of the people. As a global society, we can’t stand back and hope that future billionaires decide to give away their wealth in the service of the planet – there is far too little time left for far-fetched luxuries like that.”

John Martin