Yvon Chouinard on the Responsibility of Business

Thoughts from Yvon Chouinard, Founder and CEO of Patagonia

I’ve been a businessman for almost 50 years.  It’s as difficult for me to say those words as it is for someone to admit being an alcoholic or a lawyer.  I’ve never respected the profession.  It’s business that has to take the majority of the blame for being the enemy of nature, for destroying native cultures, for taking from the poor and giving to the rich, and poisoning the earth with effluent from its factories

– Yvon Chouinard

On Patagonia:

Since the early nineties, we have made environmental responsibility a key element of everyone’s job…

When we commissioned from an independent research company an environmental impact assessment of four major fibers, we expected to learn that oil-based polyester and nylon were big energy consumers and sources of pollution. And so they proved to be, but not on the scale of cotton.

We experimented. At first we made only T-shirts with organic cotton. Then, after several trips to the San Joaquin Valley, after we smelled the selenium ponds and saw the lunar landscape of cotton fields, we asked a critical question: How could we continue to make products that laid waste to the earth this way?

In the fall of 1994, we made the decision to take our cotton sportswear 100% organic by 1996.

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