Interim CEO 1% for the Planet Our north star: We can accomplish more together than we can alone. This has been the driving force behind 1% for the Planet (1% FTP), the world’s largest environmental network, for over a decade. When Yvon Chouinard and Craig Mathews founded 1% FTP, we started with 21 businesses. Ten years later, we’ve channeled over $100 million to environmental organizations and more than 1,200 businesses worldwide are part of the network. But that’s just a start relative to the challenges facing our planet. The environmental and business landscapes looked very different back in 2001. We’ve learned that innovation is key. Meeting businesses where they are, giving options to engaging in the movement—like Product Line Membership for large business—has helped us to introduce companies to sustainability who otherwise would never have taken a first step. Similarly evolving our definition of sustainability to include a human element—recognizing that any successful conservation effort must include the wellbeing of people—has allowed us to grow our impact and connect with a larger segment of businesses and nonprofit organizations. Ultimately these changes have increased our ability to do good on behalf of our planet. We continually work to maintain our high bar for participation in the network AND ensure we are leveraging our platform to continue our growth and our ability to create positive environmental impact. We’re constantly amazed by what our network accomplishes. Here are a few lessons we’ve learned in the past 10 years about the environmental landscape, evolving sustainability practices, and business, nonprofits, and people in general.
1. Doom and Gloom will only get you so far.
People want to be part of the solution to the challenges we all know are facing the planet. As Paul Hawken says, “If you look at the data and you don’t feel pessimistic, you don’t understand the data; if you look at the people involved and don’t feel optimistic, then you don’t have a pulse.” Individuals just need accessible, actionable (and yes, easy) ways to start making a difference.
2. Community is King.
True, it can be lonely in an entrepreneurial world. But we’ve seen our network of innovators and entrepreneurs come together to collaborate, brainstorm and use their collective businesses as a force for change. Provide the opportunity for your partners to innovate and you’ll be amazed what they come up with.
3. Dollars passed does not mean impact made.
Yes, it’s true: our network has given $100 million to date! But that’s the tip of the iceberg. The time is now to elevate the stories behind the dollars, because that’s what inspires action. And action creates change.
4. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
The size of the challenges facing our planet and the number of approaches we could take so solving them can be overwhelming. Strip excess away until you have perfection. Complicated does not inspire. P.S. simple is hard.
5. Government isn’t going to solve all of our problems.
Someone has to. And it’s all of us. Individuals, businesses, and nonprofits working together.
6. Small is beautiful.
Just because you’re small doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference. As our 50th member, Jack Johnson, believes, “an individual action, multiplied by millions, creates global change.” Well said, Jack.
7. Less judgment, more inclusion.
We ask people to do what they can. There is always room for improvement. Your actions don’t have to be perfect; they just have to be better. And they have to keep improving.
8. There is a difference between environmental efficiency and environmental effectiveness.
Take an ant colony for example: though humans are much larger, collectively their biomass exceeds ours. And though there is almost no place on earth untouched by some species of ant (just like us), ants’ density and productivity is not a problem for the rest of the world. Everything they make and use returns to the cycles of nature. I urge and dare us to be like that!
9. Transparency is just good business. Know your role.
The world needs doers and it needs supporters. We need those who help with translation, awareness, engagement and support. Clearly communicate how you’re making a difference in your community and you will be rewarded.
10. Treat our planet well and it will treat your business well in return.
You can work on being best in the world or you can work on being best for the world. Chances are if you put the environment first, it will prove to be a good business decision. Just ask Patagonia. We really can do more together than we can alone.