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Varieties of Green Business

Industries, Nations and Time

Geoffrey Jones

This book provides rich new empirical evidence on green business as it examines its variation between industries and nations, and over time. It demonstrates the deep historical origins of endeavors to create for-profit businesses that were more responsible and sustainable, but also how these strategies have faced constraints, trade-offs and challenges of legitimacy. Based on extensive interviews and archives from around the world, the book asks why green business succeeds more in some contexts than others, and draws lessons from failure as well as success.
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Chapter 8: Alternative paths of green entrepreneurship: Yvon Chouinard, Doug Tompkins and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins

Geoffrey Jones and Ben Gettinger


This chapter compares entrepreneurs who offered alternative paths to sustainability. Yvon Chouinard was the founder of outdoor apparel brands, Patagonia. He pursued incremental sustainability strategies over decades at his firm. Doug Tompkins founded the outdoor apparel brand, The North Face, but eventually opted to exit business. He and his wife, Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, a former chief executive at Patagonia, purchased 1.5 million hectares of land in Chile and Argentina, which they converted to protected areas. Both strategies resulted in positive environmental benefits, but with trade-offs and limitations. Patagonia incrementally improved the sustainability of its business, and served as a role model, but continued to promote a consumer culture. The Tompkins’s strategy has created a vast area of national parks, sequestered and stored 80 million tons of carbon, and saved multiple wildlife species. This supports the case for applying entrepreneurial capabilities to sustainability issues beyond seeking to make businesses more sustainable.

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