How to contribute to environmental change with 1% for the Planet

When we create environmental management systems for our clients, one of the actions we almost always include is signing up to “1% of the planet”. 1% for the Planet is a global movement that encourages businesses and individuals to contribute at least 1% of their annual sales or income to environmental charities as part of their corporate environmental responsibility. Founded by Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia and Craig Mathews of Blue Ribbon Flies in 2002, this initiative is not just about donations, but about a fundamental change in how businesses approach their environmental responsibility. 

Since its inception, 1% for the Planet has grown into a substantial network with over 5,200 business members from more than 110 countries. Together, they have contributed over $585 million to environmental causes. 

It’s almost been a year since Green Small Business became a 1% for the Planet member, check out our member profile in the directory here.  

The commitment: 1% of sales, not profit:

One of the most significant aspects of 1% for the Planet is its focus on sales rather than profit. Companies commit to donating 1% of their annual sales, not profits, to environmental organizations. This distinction is vital. Profits are always subject to numerous end-of-year adjustments. An approach based on sales ensures a more consistent and reliable contribution to environmental causes, regardless of a company’s financial performance. It is a mechanism that integrates sustainable funding models into your business model, ensuring that support for environmental charities is inherently part of your operations. 

How It Works: 

1% for the Planet operates on a straightforward yet effective four-step process: 

1. Commit: Businesses commit to donating at least 1% of their annual sales to environmental organizations. 

2. Give: The donations are made directly to one or more approved environmental organizations. 

3. Certify: Members submit donation receipts and revenue documentation to certify as a 1% for the Planet member, ensuring transparency and accountability. 

4. Amplify: Members use their certification and the network’s platform to inspire other businesses and individuals to join the movement and contribute to environmental causes. 

A unique aspect of 1% for the Planet is the autonomy it provides to its members in choosing where their donations go. Members can select from over 400 partner non-profit organizations, allowing them to support causes that align closely with their values and priorities. This flexibility not only encourages more businesses to participate but also ensures that a wide range of environmental issues receive attention and funding. 

Benefits of 1% for the Planet membership for your business:

Recent studies underscore the importance of environmental commitment in business. For instance, a Gen Z purpose study conducted by Porter Novelli revealed that a staggering 93% of Gen Z consumers believe it is essential for companies to have appropriate programs and policies to back their environmental commitments. This sentiment is not limited to Gen Z; it resonates across various consumer demographics, emphasising the widespread demand for corporate responsibility.  

Businesses with strong environmental commitments are increasingly outperforming those without such commitments. Consumers are more likely to support and stay loyal to brands that demonstrate a genuine concern for the environment. This preference is reflected in their purchasing decisions, leading to better performance for environmentally committed brands in the marketplace. 

1% for the Planet represents a powerful shift in how businesses can engage in environmental stewardship. By tying donations to sales, ensuring transparency, and empowering members to choose where their money goes, this initiative is creating a sustainable and impactful way for the business community to contribute to the well-being of our planet. As this movement continues to grow, it really shows what can be achieved when businesses take an active role in supporting environmental causes.