Tompkins was so influenced by these ideas that, by the late 1980s, he had come to believe that the consumer culture he had helped promote with The North Face and Esprit was contributing to the environmental destruction he hoped to fight. He decided to implement what he saw as the necessary changes. Tompkins sold his stake in Esprit for an estimated $125 million and resolved to, as he puts it, “stop selling people things they don’t need.”
Tompkins moved to a small farm on one of his first park projects in Chile: Parque Pumalín. Unlike the yellow, rolling hills of low brush in the Chacabuco Valley, Pumalín covers 715,000 acres of dense and wet forest, carved by deep fjords, with mountains that drop steeply to the sea and islands that splatter across the surrounding bay.