It doesn’t get much better than buying your favorite products from businesses that contribute to charity. Combining the thrill of an exciting new purchase with a good deed is a win-win. However, with the rise of greenwashing, consumers have become less trusting that their money is making its way to the intended cause. So how can we, as conscious consumers, guarantee companies are putting their money where their mouth is? Yvon Chouinard, the founder of the well-loved sustainable brand Patagonia, was asking the same question.
Alongside his business partner Craig Matthews, Chouinard set out to create 1% For The Planet. They created the organization to give consumers confidence that some businesses really were donating to their stated charitable partners. The organization certifies businesses that can prove they donate 1% of their annual sales or salary to environmental causes.
This is not philanthropy. This should be a cost of doing business. It’s paying rent for our use of the planet.” —Yvon Chouinard, 1% For The Planet co-founder
Why Shop With 1% for the Planet Members?
When a brand chooses to become a 1% For The Planet member, it commits to donating regardless of the business’ annual profitability. Many brands make claims about committing funds to environmental causes. However, these donations are often ad hoc or based on annual bottom-line profitability. When donations are calculated based on profits, there is more room for dishonesty. For example, business owners can take out large sums of profit, offer enormous bonuses, and pay for expensive business trips before calculating their profit. In other words, they can “cook the books.”
Patronizing 1% For The Planet members isn’t the only way to avoid greenwashing. There are undoubtedly many honest and generous businesses that are not current members. But this is one certification you can trust. When you see the 1% for the Planet logo, you’ll know the company has made a commitment to give back to environmental nonprofits.
How Does It Work?
Once a business has committed to donating 1% of gross sales to environmental nonprofits and filled out the paperwork, it is officially a member. 1% For The Planet provides businesses with a preapproved list of charitable organizations to ensure that donations go to worthy causes. The businesses submit their records to 1% For The Planet to certify their contributions. In return, member businesses can display the 1% logo to alert conscious consumers that they support the environment.
Over 5,000 businesses have committed to joining 1% For The Planet. When you buy products and services from these businesses, your purchase supports their commitment to helping the planet. Since 2022, members have raised more than $265 million for environmental nonprofits.
Where Does the Money Go?
There are 4,000 environmental nonprofit organizations within the 1% For The Planet network, so businesses can ensure their donations go to the causes they believe in most.
These organizations fall into six categories: climate, food, land, pollution, water, and wildlife. Under each category, there are various subcategories. Examples of these subcategories include climate solutions, renewable energy, sustainable farming practices, conservation of natural resources, and cleanups.
Here are just a few of the nonprofits involved with 1% For The Planet to give you an idea of the variety of environmental causes member donations support.
National Forest Foundation
The National Forest Foundation was founded to restore and enhance America’s forests and grasslands. The foundation leads conservation efforts, helps recover lands damaged by wildfires, and plants trees, among its many projects. Minute Key, a locksmith and key cutting company, is one of The National Forest Foundations’ business partners. Through its ongoing donations, Minute Key is on its way to helping the National Forest Foundation plant 1,000,000 trees by the end of 2022. Now that’s an impact.
Audubon is an American nonprofit dedicated to protecting birds and their habitats. Its work includes planting native plants to improve bird habitat, helping landowners establish bird-friendly land management practices, and conserving rivers, lakes, and watering holes that birds frequent. It also works on solutions to climate change, which is a major threat to bird populations.
The Surfrider Foundation is a grassroots environmental organization whose mission is to protect the world’s beaches. It was founded over 30 years ago by three surfers who worked with their local community to prevent the destruction of their favorite place to catch waves. Since then, its mission has expanded to include water quality, beach access, healthy marine environments, and coastal preservation.
One Way To Identify Responsible Businesses
It’s important to recognize that 1% For The Planet is just one of many ways to determine a business’ commitment to the environment. The organization only verifies a business’ financial contributions to environmental nonprofits. It does not tell us about the company’s internal practices or other important factors that contribute to a sustainable business.
But when you see the 1% For The Planet logo, you can be confident that the business is putting its money on the line for environmental causes. So if you want your dollar to go a little further than the product you are purchasing, supporting 1% For The Planet businesses is a great place to start.
About the Author
Tayla Nova is an Australian writer specializing in all things sustainability. She began her journey studying fashion design in Paris before spending several years working in e-commerce, including working for a sustainable retailer and then moving to freelance writing.