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Altruism Evolves

1% For The Planet leverages success in the outdoor industry to do more environmental good.

Patagonia wants your attention on Black Friday, but instead of firing up the masses to shop, the founding member of the nonprofit 1% for the Planet wants to subvert the holiday shopping tradition. Head to one of the 15 national screenings of “Worn Wear” (or watch it above), a film that celebrates the ability to repair old gear rather than acquire new stuff. While you’re there, enjoy a fine pint from New Belgium—the first brewery to join 1% for the Planet. The Colorado craft beer maker just partnered with Patagonia to create an organic brew that celebrates the outdoor apparel company’s 40th anniversary.

Patagonia and New Belgium are just two of the now 1,200 1% for the Planet member companies in 48 countries—Horny Toad apparel is the latest to sign up—who donate 1 percent of sales revenue to environmental nonprofits and advocacy groups. (Full disclosure: Mountain magazine is a media partner too.)

Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, owner of Blue Ribbon Flies, started 1% for the Planet in 2002, and in the decade since it’s become the world’s largest environmental network. Partners have donated more than $100 million to preserve and protect the environment. For outdoor industry retailers, it’s just good business to take care of the landscapes where their products are used. But the outdoor industry is a small, if proactive, slice of the business community. To bring a wider audience and new demographics to their cause, 1% is developing new strategies. The first is focused on collaborations between companies. Combining efforts with likeminded brands allows them to collectively reach more people, and affect more change.

The other is to engage Fortune 500 companies. “We realized we had a myopic view,” says CEO Terry Kellogg. “Pure altruism isn’t a long term business proposition.” For large-scale corporations or global conglomerates one percent of sales represents a huge ask. Instead, 1% plans to develop new programs so Fortune 500 companies can sign on for a special product run—say a hybrid car or a low energy fridge—with each item emblazoned with the highly prized 1% logo. This allows them to dip a toe in altruistic waters. The new strategy opens the way to greater adoption and more good will toward the environment.  “We never wanted it to be just about the hardcore outdoor companies,” says Kellogg.  —Matt Hart

Learn more about “Worn Wear” here and visit onepercentfortheplanet.org for more information about the nonprofit.

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