At Klean Kanteen, supporting action has always been a crucial part of our mission. By forging nonprofit partnerships with organizations that are doing vital work, we are able to bring benefit to people and planet. A key partner in our efforts to give back to our communities by supporting on-the-ground action is 1% for the Planet, an organization that brings together businesses and nonprofits so they can make a bigger impact.
What is 1% for the Planet and How Does It Work?
By 2002, Patagonia had already been giving away 10% of their net profits to grassroots environmental organizations, but founder Yvon Chouinard wanted to take it further. In what they saw as a self-imposed "earth tax," Patagonia decided to dedicate 1% of their total sales to nonprofit contributions. Eventually, Chouinard teamed up with another social good business to encourage other brands to make the same commitment.
In an interview with The New Yorker, Chouinard explains the reasoning behind this decision, saying "The capitalist ideal is you grow a company and focus on making it as profitable as possible. Then, when you cash out, you become a philanthropist. We believe a company has a responsibility to do that all along—for the sake of the employees, for the sake of the planet."
Today, 1% for the Planet is a global movement inspiring businesses and individuals to support environmental solutions through annual memberships and everyday actions. Businesses that become members commit to giving 1% of their yearly gross sales to approved nonprofit partners who are vetted by the organization. Their donations can be a combination of monetary and in-kind, but they are always made directly to the nonprofit, must be approved by 1% for the Planet, and are verified through financial reports submitted in Q1 after the close of the previous business year.
Having access to a community of trusted partners means that businesses get to spend less time researching nonprofits and more time making an impact. When only about 3% of global philanthropic giving goes towards environmental efforts, 1% for the Planet has facilitated the donation of over $250 million to credible and respected environmental nonprofits. One of the key value propositions of 1% for the Planet membership is the partnership advising that their team provides to members, helping them map out an effective, impactful giving strategy that works for them. Collectively, 1% for the Planet business, individual, and nonprofit members are committed to building a better future together.
We like to work with smaller, scrappier nonprofits because we prefer to support their goals rather than pushing our own. Through smaller, $5-10K grants with unrestricted spending, we act sort of like the sand and glue for these nonprofits. Where they may receive larger amounts of cash from other entities, those grants often come with more specific requirements for how they are spent. With our funding, nonprofits can fill in the spaces to cover everything else that they may need in order to further their movements. - Caroleigh Pierce, Klean Kanteen's Nonprofit Outreach Manager
How Does Klean Kanteen Spend Our 1% For The Planet?
For Klean Kanteen, 1% for the Planet acts as a sort of matchmaker, or gatekeeper partner. We trust them to vet potential partners so that we know our dollars are going to a good cause, and our customers trust them to verify that we are following through on our commitments.
Klean Kanteen’s Nonprofit Outreach Manager Caroleigh Pierce says that working with 1% for the Planet not only makes her job easier, but more meaningful as well. As a member, Klean is invited to participate in a yearly global summit where Caroleigh gets to meet passionate people from all over the environmental space.
At the summit, business members come together to tell stories, share resources, forge connections, and discuss potential collaborations. “That conference is actually where we found out about Climate Neutral last year, and now we are proud to be Climate Neutral Certified” Caroleigh explains enthusiastically. She also notes that because Klean Kanteen can only work with so many partners each year, the summit is where she gets to indirectly support more nonprofits. “It means that I get to help brands and nonprofits just by talking about them and getting them connected to others who might be able to amplify their work where we can’t.”
Overall, Klean Kanteen works with about three dozen partners, some of which are larger but most of them are on the smaller side. Caroleigh particularly loves the fact that “a handful of our current partners were our original partners—first and foremost, we are relationship based.”
No matter the size of the donation or partner, at Klean we always act with our four pillars in mind; plastic pollution, land and water conservation, environmental stewardship, and safe consumer products. Two of these pillars are focused on providing a high-quality, nontoxic, reusable product, but the other two are all about who we are as a community. Working with 1% for the Planet is one exciting way that we get to engage as humans with the greater environmental movement, do some good, and really practice those community values. For us, this is exactly what it means to be all together for the planet.