Patagonia Founder Claims Capitalist System That Made Him Wealthy Is ‘Destroying the Planet’

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 26: Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard speaks onstage during the Inaugural Tribeca X: A Day of Conversations Celebrating the Intersection of Entertainment and Advertising sponsored by PwC on April 26, 2019 at Spring Studios in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Tribeca …
Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Tribeca X

The man who became a billionaire selling sporting equipment and athletic clothing claims that the system that made him rich is “destroying the planet” and that those who deny climate change — including President Donald Trump — are “evil.”

Yvon Chouinard started his business after deciding to make his own equipment for mountain climbing and eventually Patagonia was born.

The high-end company has made him rich, but Chouinard has also always been an environmental activist and now a climate change zealot. 

In an interview with the Guardian, Chouinard, who lives in California, expressed his contempt for capitalism and his disdain for climate change “deniers.”

“In his bridge-club cords and grandpa shoes, 80-year-old Yvon Chouinard doesn’t look the rock-star entrepreneur,” the Guardian reported. “And, when he speaks, he doesn’t sound much like one either. The founder of U.S. outdoor apparel brand Patagonia believes stock market valuations are ‘absurd.’ investing in shares is ‘buying blue sky’ – and modern-day capitalism is destroying the planet.

“I’d like to see an end to public corporations because we’re not going to revolutionize them, we’re not going to change them,” Chouinard said.

And Chouinard remains a hardcore activist, even while some of his contrary moves turned out to make him even wealthier.

His anti-corporate beliefs have kept his company private — he is still the sole owner of Patagonia.

And in an attempt to put a damper on Black Friday shopping, Chouinard started a “Don’t Buy This Shirt” campaign.

“I absolutely don’t believe in doing … focus groups and all that shit,” Chouinard said. “Proctor and Gamble-style, no risk. Just do it.”

“On that occasion, the risk paid off: Patagonia gained 600,000 new customers and year-on-year sales quadrupled,” the Guardian reported.

Chouinard is also no fan of Trump, calling his administration “evil” for its stand on climate change and efforts to return control of some federal lands to the states.

After Trump and the GOP passed tax-cutting legislation, Patagonia announced it would give away any money saved to environmental causes.

Chouinard also plans to put money into “pro-conservation” candidates in upcoming election cycles.

“We simply can’t pussyfoot around anymore,” Chouinard said. “We have to just say, you know, this administration is evil and anybody who is denying climate change is evil.”

Patagonia also joined a lawsuit that is fighting Trump’s reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments to give control of some of the millions of acres back to the state of Utah. And the state is on Trump’s side.

High Country News reported in October 2018:

Earlier this year, Utah tried unsuccessfully to have the pending cases moved from the D.C. court to a district court in the state; now, it wants to join the lawsuits as a defendant. “The State has substantial interests, including sovereign interests, in the management of millions of acres of public land within its borders,” state lawyers say in the filings. They contend that if plaintiffs win their lawsuits and the original monument areas are upheld, that could “deprive the State of revenue and jeopardize the full use of the property rights it holds for the benefit of all Utahns.”

And despite his outspoken stance on capitalism and environmentalism, he has advice for other entrepreneurs:

“Invent your own game and that way you can always be a winner,” Chouinard said.

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