Where does 1% of your paycheque go? For many of us, it can be a throwaway expense like coffee on the way to work.
One Percent for the Planet, as the name suggests, encourages businesses both big and small to give 1% of topline sales to environmental nonprofits. Built by Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard and his good friend Craig Mathews of Blue Ribbon Flies, it has grown into a global movement with over 1,200 businesses that contribute to and believe in environmental change. Mountain Equipment Co-op is one of the Canadian members and Canada is one of their fastest growing markets (go, Canada!).
If you’re used to reading doom-and-gloom headlines and watching documentaries that tell you it’s too late to make a difference, this is the interview you need to read. John Tashiro, Operating Director of One Percent brought us up to speed on what its like to work for One Percent and how he feels optimistic about the green future:
Do you have to be super green to work for One Percent for the Planet?
I’ve been with One Percent for about a year. I certainly have a tremendous passion and interest in the environment; everything from endangered species to understanding ecosystems. I actually persuaded my wife to take our holidays as research projects, learning about eco principles and practices. When we moved to Burlington, Vermont, I came across One Percent and found a great vibe with the people who work here.
Tell us about your mission.
Our mission is to build support and activate an alliance of businesses committed to creating a healthy planet. We make it easier to buy better products and protect the planet we play on. We provide businesses with a transparent and credible platform to engage consumers and nonprofits. When we started about ten years ago, it was about engaging companies to give the equivalent of 1% of their revenue directly to nonprofits. We take a small membership fee of 2-5% of that 1%. It’s small because we want the businesses to give as much as they can, and for the nonprofits to benefit as much as they can, and to forge a relationship between those two.
Is there a similar trait between the businesses that join One Percent?
90% of our businesses are small or medium sized businesses, ranging from $100,000 in revenue to less than a million. Those businesses really resonate with the values that we have. It’s embedded in their DNA.
You’ve already expanded so much…what are your plans moving forward?
Our audience in the past were the deep green people, the people that were already committed; the advocates. This is about 11% of the population in the US. We’re trying to include the aspirationals, people who want to do the right thing but prioritize other things. We learned this makes up over 30% of the population. If we can engage the advocates and the aspirationals, we’re almost engaging half the population!
Do you ever reject a company who applies?
We focus on what the business is trying to achieve with regards to its principles and products. Unfortunately, we do reject some businesses from becoming members. We want to be as inclusive as possible, but we have to be mindful of our network of businesses and nonprofit partners. We look at the intentions that businesses have. We’ve had oil companies and tobacco companies come to us and we‘ve struggled on that front. We do say no.
What has surprised you most since working for One Percent?
A number of businesses committed upfront to 1% even before they made any revenue or profit! Caudalie, the French cosmetics company is one example. They came to us before they went global. They wanted to do good and give back and they’ve done very well. They’re so committed, even just talking about them brings tingles to my spine. It is quite moving. We come across those types of businesses so often, that it gives us this sense of optimism that change is truly happening and that there is this momentum. We are seeing a movement from trying to be the best business in the world to the best business for the world.
1% surpassed their 10-year $100 million goal of environmental giving. 300 new businesses have joined in the last year! Environmental giving is on the increase.
What better Earth Month message can we have than that?
Learn more about One Percent here.