Innovation That Matters

James Bidwell, Co-Founder of Re_Set and Chair of Springwise, during a recent event to promote 1% For The Planet at The Conduit in London. | Photo source Madelyn Postman/Leidar

Why Green Is Good For Businesses That Give Back


At a recent Springwise-sponsored event supporting 1% For The Planet, the case was made from both the business and environmental non-profit perspective as to why companies should commit to giving back.

The evidence has never been clearer as to why businesses need to and should commit to giving back in order to help stem the tide of climate change.

Besides the clear fact that our planet is nearing the point of irreversible harm, there are definite benefits for businesses who make a true commitment to doing their part. 

Nine out of 10 millennials say they would switch brands to one associated with a cause like preserving the environment, and an estimated $1.2 trillion opportunity exists for brands that make their sustainability credentials clear. 

“Supporting the environment is good for business,” declared James Bidwell, Co-Founder of Re_Set and Chair of Springwise, who cited these statistics and more during a recent gathering of over 100 business owners and entrepreneurs at The Conduit in London, encouraging those who are not yet 1% For The Planet members to join the cause. Springwise and Re_Set are among the over 2,000 members across 45 countries.

“Our aim is to welcome 500 new members in the UK by the end of 2020,” James told the audience, referring to the UK steering panel’s ambitious goal for the year. Membership in the UK doubled in 2019 to over 200 member businesses.

Attendees mingled prior to the event at The Conduit in London. Photo source: Jess Ly/MOJU

The organisation has certified more than €200 million in support of approved environmental nonprofits since launching in 2002, when Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, who founded of Blue Ribbon Flies, created 1% For The Planet. 

“1% For The Planet, as a business member, individual member or a media partner, is an easy way of doing something about it,” James stated, referring to the growing climate crisis.  

Alex Beasley (UK & Ireland country manager, Patagonia), Georgia Phillips (Global Partnerships Lead, Pukka Herbs) and Bill Liao (Co-founder and Chairman of the Board, WeForest), joined James to speak of their own experiences working with 1% For The Planet, how companies can easily follow through on their commitment, and the urgent need for timely action.

Creative Fundraising 

It’s important to realise the many different ways businesses can account for their 1% commitment. 

“We’ve effectively built our giving right into the heart of our purchasing model,” said Georgia, who explained how Pukka achieves 55% of its 1% by paying a fair premium for the ingredients.

“When we’re buying cinnamon from Vietnam, or our elderflower from Bosnia, or our aloe vera from Mexico, we make sure we pay extra, which goes into local pots for local communities,” she added. The money is then used at a local level for a range causes, from new backpacks for school children to helping farmers afford plug plants for kicking off new crops. 

Companies can get creative with how they choose to raise funds in other ways, as Patagonia did during this past holiday shopping season.  

The retailer put its own twist on Black Friday by asking consumers to make a gift donation to any NGO funded through its Action Works platform and promised to match that donation. The campaign raised a total of $20 million to help tackle the root causes of the climate crisis and environmental degradation.

Other 1% For The Planet members took a similar approach to the holiday shopping season. The clothing retailer Grown removed all garments from its site on Black Friday and replaced them with GIFT A TREE cards. Others like ELSK and Stojo donated 100% of Black Friday proceeds to their 1% For The Planet non-profit partners.

Strategic Partnerships

Companies that are working on their sustainability strategy may have concerns about being able to contribute a percentage of their profits. 

“We’re growing fast, so as our revenue goes up, so does the amount of money we need to give to 1%, so it’s a thing to think through when you start deciding to do 1% rather than partway through,” Georgia told the audience, before sharing some of the ways Pukka has been able to reach its 1% goal. Strategic partnerships play a crucial role. 

The tea producer’s approach involves partnering with environmental non-profits that are locally relevant to its brand. It works directly with carefully selected groups dealing with herbal education and growing projects that can illustrate how plants help people live healthier and happier lives.

One partnership she cited was with the Eden Project, which educates people about the vital relationship between people, plants and planet. Pukka collaborated on joint exhibits introducing the brand and its herbs, which included daily Pukka tea tastings and sales. Pukka has been able to contribute over £2,000,000 to 1% For The Planet since 2015. 

Brand Value

“Peter Drucker famously said: ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ What does that mean? It means your business is going thrive and survive if it has a great culture,” Bill commented while making the case for the added value that can be obtained by companies who do their part to preserve the environment. 

Selling brand value is the key to funding Bill’s NGO ReForest, which partners with many businesses through 1% For The Planet, including Re_Set and Springwise. He spoke of the value of a tree as “a marketing aid, as a brand aid” for the businesses that ReForest partners with. 

“In 11 years, we’ve planted 25.5 million trees. We’ve lifted millions out of poverty. And it’s all about transporting brand value,” Bill said.  

Georgia also spoke of the marketing value that comes with the philanthropic endeavours of Pukka, which is part of Unilever. 

James made the point that: “In the Unilever portfolio, the brands that have sustainability as a focus are 50% ahead of its other brands,” referring to their growth rate. These brands also delivered 70% of all turnover growth.

“Being part of 1% For The Planet is a great driver of customer engagement, so for those of you thinking about the money, this is also very, very important,” he added.  

Time Is Short 

The most important reason of all for considering 1% For The Planet goes back to the urgent, global need for taking climate action. 

“Only 3% of charitable giving currently goes to the planet. We need to significantly increase that number by providing a clarity of purpose focused on the environment and sustainability. And the only way to make that happen is to put sustainability at the heart of the business model. 1% For The Planet membership is the answer,” James concluded.

Businesses can start giving back by visiting to learn more about how easy it really is to help save the planet. 

Event sponsored by The Conduit | IllustrationX | Leidar | MOJU Pelican Founders | Re_Set | Springwise