Eight years ago, two business moguls had an inspiration: Why not convince hip companies to donate a fixed portion of their sales to environmental causes? That notion evolved into 1% for the Planet, a network of firms that (as the name suggests) do just that. Early this year, the one-percenters expanded on that idea, releasing a CD of exclusive tracks that directly benefits environmental groups. We hooked up with 1% marketing VP Melody Grote to chat about the project, which involves the likes of Brandi Carlile, Jack Johnson, and Jackson Browne.
Mother Jones: Tell us a bit about 1% for the Planet.
Melody Grote: It's an environmental nonprofit founded in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, who founded Patagonia, and his buddy Craig Matthews, owner of Blue Ribbon Flies. They were out fishing one day and they said, "every time we do something good for the planet, it's good business. And companies have a real role to play here—more of them should."
They started within Patagonia with a simple model that all companies who are members give 1% of top-line sales to environmental nonprofits of their choice. It grew for a few years and gained momentum, and they said, "You know what? This should really live on its own. It's got enormous potential." Today, we have over 1,200 member companies in 38 countries. And the giving that's been enabled by this company is about $50 million to date. Ironically, it makes us one of the biggest funders of environmental work around. Which tells us how much needs to be done.
MJ: How do companies get involved?
MG: Oftentimes they find us. We have had this wonderful trajectory over the last three years, with more than one new member company a day joining. It's the power of the network. People like Yvon, and member companies like Patagonia, New Belgium Brewing Company, and Clif Bar. These companies are really role models. So companies hear about them and want to be sustainably minded and come to 1% because it's such a clear, credible commitment.
MJ: Why the CD?