Increasing membership in the UK & Ireland

1% for the Planet

1% for the Planet was co-founded in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia and Craig Matthews of Blue Ribbon Flies. Business members of 1% for the Planet donate 1% of turnover (that’s top line, not bottom line) to approved environmental partners.

Here at Grain — coincidentally also founded in 2002 — we have always wanted to give back to the planet. It took a few years for news of 1% for the Planet to cross the pond from the US, and we joined pretty much as soon as we heard about it, in 2008. Over the years, we have supported many environmental partners, including the Woodland Trust, Trees for Cities, the Marine Conservation Society, the Centre for Alternative Technology, TRAID, and 1% for the Planet itself. Recently we have nominated Plant Your Future, SeaKeepers, and A Good Thing as new environmental partners.

With the flexible giving model, companies can use volunteer time or work in kind for up to half of their 1% commitment, with the remaining half given as a monetary donation.

In the autumn of 2019, Madelyn Postman was invited to join the newly-formed UK & Ireland Steering Committee, together with 1% for the Planet representatives Ashley Weltz and Carla Fox, Harry Lyon-Smith of Illustration X, Fred Clarke of MOJU, Christopher Ramsay of Pelican Founders, and James Bidwell and Piotr Kowalczyk of Re_Set.

The group organised Zeitgeist, a ‘UK relaunch’ event, in January 2020 at The Conduit, featuring members Georgia Phillips of Pukka Herbs, Alex Beasley of Patagonia, and Bill Liao of nonprofit WeForest. About a hundred people attended: members, potential members, nonprofits, and the press.

Lockdown struck before we could organise the next in-person event. On 21st April 2020, the day before Earth Day, we hosted ‘Navigating our way towards a Plastic-Free Ocean’ with Emily Penn, who founded eXXpedition. Her organisation holds ‘all-female voyages exploring the impact of and solutions to plastic and toxic pollution in our ocean.’ Emily is a knowledgeable, inspiring, and enthusiastic speaker and she kept the audience entranced.

As the pandemic continued and we saw the impact of fewer planes in the air, the future of travel proved to be a popular topic. We invited Soraya Shattuck, founder of the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund, and 1% for the Planet board member Kurt Weinsheimer of Sojern, which provides data-driven travel marketing solutions, to speak on ‘Sustainable travel and tourism beyond 2020’ on 24th June. Madelyn has written up the talk for the Real Sustainability blog.

To round out the events for 2020, on 29th October, Chief Executive of Rewilding Britain, Rebecca Wrigley, spoke about the nonprofit’s ambitions, projects, and the new branding and communications campaigns. She illustrated the benefits of rewilding, namely that it: draws down carbon from the atmosphere; helps wildlife adapt to climate change; reverses biodiversity loss; supports diversified economic opportunities; improves our health and wellbeing. The recording and write-up are on the 1% for the Planet website.

Toward the end of 2020, we started kicked off monthly online social hours, which were eventually renamed ‘Spark’ – to spark connections and ideas. These ran through most of 2021 but did not continue in 2022 apart from one session, since attendance was faltering and online meeting fatigue was setting in.

1% for the Planet as an organisation was growing rapidly in 2021 and 2022 to keep pace with the great increase in business interest and membership numbers.

Beyond building profile for 1% for the Planet, a major aim of the Steering Committee is to build the member community in the UK. We set up a Slack account for UK & Ireland members, which prompted the nonprofit to set up further Slack channels: a global one, and for each geographic area like the US & Canada, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand.

In October 2022, 1% for the Planet held a fantastic event, Sessions: London, with thoughtful and inspiring ‘Labs’, ‘Moments’, ‘Actions’, ‘Studies’, and ‘Chats’.

Many companies are finding 1% for the Planet to be an easy and effective way to support the environment. UK & Ireland membership has grown astronomically from around 200 businesses at the beginning of 2020 to 640 at the end of 2022. All-time UK & Ireland giving to environmental partners is £13 million. We’re excited to see what’s to come!

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