Strange Brew: Patagonia + Wal-Mart

Yvon Chouinard helps the retail behemoth reinvent itself as a green brand--for free

I guess this is sort of like Yoda deciding to rehabilitate the Empire instead of teaching Luke to blow it up: A story in the May issue of Forbes magazine details how Yvon Chouinardand Patagonia are helping Wal-Mart reinvent itself as a green business. Wal-Mart is of course better known for low, low prices and corner-cutting, while Chouinard and Patagonia basically invented the idea of the eco-conscious clothing company.

So far, Chouinard has been helping Wal-Mart analyze and control its footprint for only clothing manufacturing, but Wal-Mart hopes to apply a green philosophy to its entire business. And like you, ol' Yvon didn't even believe it when Wal-Mart first approached him. But he started buying it when they flew a private jet to Jackson, WY to pick him up for a presentation at their Bentonville, Ark. headquarters. 

"I started to get an idea of what a big deal this was. I always thought the revolution would start at the bottom," he says. "It's starting at the top."

Gotta hand it to Wal-Mart—you don't reach out to Yvon Chouinard unless you're serious about greening up your company. Think the greening of Wal-Mart will stick? Let us know in the comments section below.

—Ted Alvarez

Forbes via Media Bistro