Most companies go public. But Patagonia has instead chosen to “go purpose”, in a move that will donate all profits (minus running costs) to fighting climate change. Billionaire founder Yvon Chouinard announced earlier this week that from now on Earth would be its only shareholder.

“If we have any hope of a thriving planet—much less a business—it is going to take all of us doing what we can with the resources we have. This is what we can do.”

It is a surprising move, but one which illustrates the outdoor apparel company’s continued dedication to environmental action – after all, Patagonia is no stranger to positive publicity and tangible steps towards its sustainable strategy.

Here are three other examples:

1. 1% For the Planet

Since 1985, Patagonia has pledged 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. It understands that profit and loss are directly linked to its health and are concerned with the social and environmental impacts of the fashion industry. So far, $89 million has been donated to domestic and international environmental groups, and the company continues to influence other businesses to follow in its steps.

2. Going Organic

In the early 90s, employees in Patagonia’s Boston store began getting headaches. Investigations showed that their conventionally grown cotton t-shirts were off-gassing formaldehyde used in the garments’ production and were the direct cause of their employees’ headaches. In 1996, Patagonia found another way and has been using exclusively organic cotton where it is not using recycled cotton. That’s impressive considering that less than 1% of the world’s cotton is grown organically.

3. Don’t Buy This Jacket

It’s Black Friday, 2011, and shoppers are pinballing from one retailer to another, searching out the next bargain in a frenzy of fashion-crazed shopping. Brands are cashing in on the most lucrative day in the high street’s calendar, and dollar signs are gleaming in their eyes. In Patagonia’s eyes, however, is the sober realisation that this unabated appetite for consumerism can’t continue. In response, they take out an ad in the New York Times with the message: Don’t Buy This Jacket’ and ways that the shopper can help the world avoid environmental bankruptcy. Ironically, Patagonia’s sales rose 30% following the campaign, but it did succeed in raising awareness of the perils of fast fashion.

What can we learn from Patagonia’s ruthless sustainability strategy?

Patagonia succeeds because they have embodied its company values. They don’t preach one thing and do another.

Your consumer is surrounded by greenwashing: companies that promise responsible sourcing, carbon offsetting and recyclability but deliver products that are more harmful to the environment and fail to fulfil any promises. They are also surrounded by unambitious targets that delay solving climate change and contribute very little positive action.

Therefore, following the example set by Patagonia, your sustainability strategy should be bold, tangible (accredited by recognised organisations), and embody every decision you make and every communication you send out.
Don’t see sustainability as a box to tick.

See it instead as an opportunity to make a difference and create a world that no longer needs help from companies like Patagonia.