I enjoy pretty much everything there is that has to do with the outdoors. Some of my most peaceful moments have been while walking through the forest, sitting on a beach, or boating (minus the loud engine). Accordingly I have a great respect for nature and enjoy learning about the plants and wildlife therein. My plan is to continue that learning process and hopefully enhance it by sharing what I learn. I intend for this blog to serve many purposes, but in the immediate future it will be a place for me, and hopefully others, to share ideas about reducing our individual impact on this planet, protecting wild spaces, and in general just to comment on the things we enjoy most in the great outdoors. I welcome all opinions as otherwise you cannot consider every aspect of a subject. However, I would ask that every opinion be expressed in a respectful way and considered with an open mind. Often there is no single right answer. Thanks.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What is 1% for the Planet?

A couple of months ago I received my last catalogue from Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) and noticed a logo on one of the pages that mentioned 1% for the Planet.  I was curious at the time what it was all about, but forgot about it until I went to MEC last month and saw the logo again on one of their windows.  I have seen it in a couple of other places since then and decided that I should quit wondering and figure out the answer.

The stated mission on the 1% for the Planet website is as follows: "1% for the Planet exists to build and support an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet."  Conceived in 2001 1% for the Planet had its official launch in 2002.  Fast forward to 2010 when they had over 1200 members in 38 countries and had facilitated over $50 million in donations to approved non-profits.  Essentially member companies agree to donate 1% of their sales to a non-profit organization whose work relates to sustainability.  The member company develops a relationship with one or more of the approved non-profit groups and makes arrangements directly with them for payment(s) and the timing of payment(s).  At the end of fiscal year, by review of receipts and tax information, 1% for the Planet certifies that the member company has donated at least 1% of sales to an approved enviromental group. 
As I was reading the website the cynical part of my brain questioned the "approved non-profit", but I can see the advantages from a member perspective.  If you are going to donate 1% of your sales you would like to know that your money is going to an organization that has already been researched to some degree, being able to search from a pre-approved list would make it easier, and you can connect with non-profits that you otherwise might not have heard of.  The application is designed so that the non-profit group indicates which areas they focus on ie. wildlife protection, climate change, wetlands, etc in addition to providing information about their activities and budget.  In this way a member company can choose a group that fits with the environmental activities they are passionate about.

1% for the Planet is a non-profit organization itself and supports its activities with membership dues collected from member companies.  If you take the time to read a few of their blog entries you can see that the staff are busy setting up networking opportunities between members and the non-profits they support, and also gathering feed back to improve their operations.  They were recently in the Vancouver area doing a presentation along with a couple of representatives from MEC, which is the largest 1% member in Canada.

On the 1% for the Planet website you can do a search for member companies.  When I entered a search for all members within Canada I got 164 results, 58 of which are in British Columbia.  These companies range from lawyers offices to outdoor adventure tour companies to design and photography.  Each listed member has links below their name to a brief profile and also their website.  As I mentioned in my Recycling at London Drugs post I like to try and support those companies that show a higher level of social responsibility.  1% may not seem like a large amount of money but, as with any movement, the work of many people together can make a huge difference.

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