1% for The Planet — Keep Earth in Business

One Percent for the PlanetI was introduced to 1% for the Planet while reading the book Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, written by Yvon Chouinard. 1% for the Planet is a global alliance of companies that contribute at least 1% of their annual sales to environmental organizations worldwide.

1% for The Planet – Keep Earth in Business

Visitors to the 1% for the Planet website can learn about its history, the people behind it, member companies, approved non-profit recipients, ambassadors, check out their blog and find out how to make a donation.

In 2001, 1% for the Planet was founded by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, owner of Blue Ribbon Flies.

Business members range from adventure outfitters to yoga studios and span the globe. Companies agree to contribute at least 1% of their annual sales to a large list of approved environmental non-profits. These could be small regional concerns to international organizations and must have clear environmental objectives and a proven track record.

I enjoyed reading about the board of directors, the people who run the organization and ambassadors who work to spread the message. They include outdoor enthusiasts, business people, marketers, musicians, and activists to name a few.

It’s easy to make a donation, learn about participating companies and environmental news on the blog, or check out a video.

1% for the Planet was founded by two guys whose businesses depend on the environment in more ways than one. First of all, who would buy Patagonia clothing or purchase fishing gear from Blue Ribbon Flies if there was no place to climb or fish? Second, without environmental resources, they could not make, sell, and distribute their products. To me, they are not only outdoor enthusiasts and environmentalists, but smart businesspeople too.

The “Keep Earth In Business” tagline succinctly states the connection between a healthy planet and a healthy business. I like the following quote attributed to Senator Gaylord Nelson,

“The Economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around.” —Gaylord Nelson

Keep an eye out for the 1% for the Planet logo and consider giving your business to companies that put their money where their mouth is.

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Let My People Go Surfing — Book Review

Let My People Go Surfing Book CoverWho wouldn’t be intrigued by a book called Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, written by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard?

It was my brother who first turned me on to Patagonia. He is an avid outdoor enthusiast and a fan of Patagonia gear and the company itself. He thought I might be interested in the environmental aspects of the company. I checked out Patagonia’s website and ran across Let My People Go Surfing.

Book Review

In Let My People Go Surfing, Chouinard shares his personal history and that of the two companies he founded, Chouinard Equipment and Patagonia.

  • His life-long love of the outdoors began as a kid coming of age in Southern California.
  • Chouinard Equipment, specializing in rock climbing equipment, was founded with one product, a piton.
  • A rugby shirt brought back from Scotland introduced clothing into the business and led to the founding of Patagonia.
  • Over the years during his travels, Chouinard saw first-hand the destruction of the natural environment and built environmental stewardship and action into Patagonia. He co-founded 1% For The Planet, an alliance of businesses that contribute at least 1% of their net annual sales to environmental organizations.

This book is a story of simple beginnings, serendipity, hard work, success, creativity, failure, perseverance, innovation, luck, and how one’s passion can lead from a small business to a global corporation.

  • Readers will find Patagonia’s mission statement, corporate values, and business philosophies which combine standard business fare with some refreshing ideas.
  • Chouinard discusses his “MBA” theory of management (Management by Absence). Sounds humorous but if you really think about it, a manager’s job is to hire the right people, remove obstacles, and let them do their job.
  • Corporate headquarters is housed in an environmentally-friendly building in Ventura on the California coast. Employees can literally go surfing when the surf is up. Employees don’t shirk their responsibilities they just have the freedom to rearrange them.

The Bottom Line

In a way, Chouinard became a businessman to subsidize his global travel and outdoor endeavors. Along the way, he and others built Patagonia into a global organization that demonstrates a company can be people and planet friendly and profitable.

Let My People Go Surfing shows there is a viable alternative to chasing quarterly earnings, treating employees as an expendable commodity, and business as usual practices that damage our planet. This book should be on the required reading list for all MBA candidates and business executives.

I was captivated by this book and look forward to a future with more companies like Patagonia. It gave me hope that the business world may wake up and find a different way to operate and still make money.

The Responsible Company, by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley, released in May 2012, is on my “to read” list.

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