Patagonia founder and environmentalist will speak Feb. 23 at ISU on innovation and ethics

AMES, Iowa -- As founder and owner of the outdoor apparel company Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard is known as a leader in corporate social responsibility. Chouinard will share his story of building an environmentally conscious company when he presents the keynote address for Iowa State University's National Affairs Series. Chouinard's talk, "Innovation and Ethics," will be at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, in the Memorial Union Great Hall. It is free and open to the public.

An avid rock climber, Chouinard began in business by designing, manufacturing and distributing rock-climbing equipment in the late 1950s. He designed an improved ice axe that remains the basis for modern ice axe design. In 1964, Chouinard produced his first mail-order catalog -- a one-page mimeographed sheet that advised customers not to expect fast delivery during climbing season.

In the late 1980s, Chouinard instituted the Patagonia Earth Tax, which pledges 1 percent of company sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. In 2001, he helped start One Percent For the Planet, an alliance of businesses that contribute at least 1 percent of their net annual sales to approved environmental organizations. Chouinard also is the author of "Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman."

A reception and poster session will precede Chouinard's lecture at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union Oak Room. This event, held in conjunction with the ISU Symposium on Sustainability, also is free and open to the public. It will feature sculptures created from trash removed from Iowa's rivers. The "Riverse" exhibit is an annual collaboration between Ogden artist David Williamson and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' Project AWARE, a weeklong volunteer river cleanup. (See sidebar).

Chouinard's lecture is cosponsored by the Council on Sustainability, National Affairs Series, Recreation Services and the Committee on Lectures, which is funded by the Government of the Student Body.

More information on ISU lectures is available at, or by calling (515) 294-9935.