Meet the 4 winners of this year's Summit Awards program and learn about their environmental impact

October 19, 2023
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The 3,900 votes are in and we have selected the winners for this year’s Summit Awards! Highlighting Leadership, Partnership and Change & Innovation, the Summit Awards honor members and environmental partners going above and beyond their 1% commitment.

The second night of Global Summit 2023 held our Summit Awards Gala, where all four winners were highlighted and given awards created by member Awardology. We interviewed each winner on the impact of environmental giving and their individual milestones:

Peter Dering, CEO of Peak Design, accepting the Summit Award for Leadership. Photography by Duncan Nicholls.

Leadership with Peak Design

How has environmental giving influenced your organization’s model?

The importance of environmental giving cannot be overstated for Peak Design. It effectively provides our moral license to operate. Without a strong commitment to giving back during the growth and operation of a company, I don't see how organizations can pursue growth in good faith. It's more than just tithing to relieve the guilty corporate conscience; the global system of capitalism leaves a void in terms of having a mechanism that properly invests in the long-term health of the planet. Without sufficient regulatory force, companies must pick up the mantle and do what they can voluntarily. 1% for the Planet gives us a name and recognition that makes it feel like a square deal.

How does your 1% for the Planet membership promote thought leadership in your industry?

For one, it requires a very healthy chunk of money to leave the coffers every year. Any thoughtful business owner wants to see all of their dollars spent wisely. It compels us to be thoughtful about how and where we spread those dollars. Going deep on that led Peak Design to co-found Climate Neutral, an organization modeled closely after 1% for the Planet—and aims to be more specific regarding carbon mitigation.

What milestone in your giving journey are you most proud of?

It's hard for Climate Neutral not to take center stage here. When I discuss the organizational origins, I always mention 1% for the Planet in the same breath, as it provided the seed capital and is still a major part of its funding.

Julia Marsh, CEO and Co-Founder of Sway, accepting the Summit Award for Change & Innovation. Photography by Duncan Nicholls.

Change & Innovation with Sway

How has environmental giving influenced your organization’s model?

Prior to product launch, Sway committed to 1% for the Planet. This was an atypical move for an early-stage startup given that partnerships rely on giving, but our team was clear on the potential impact of this decision. Committing to 1% for the Planet enabled us to further our commitment to the health of oceans, communities and land. Sway is partnered with three environmental organizations: Reef Check, Save The Bay, and Fundación Rompientes. Reef Check replenishes kelp forest ecosystems and contributes to critical global science, Save The Bay protects and restores the San Francisco baylands and wildlife and Fundación Rompientes expands marine protected areas and upholds traditional seaweed management methods in Chile. We have so much to learn from each of these partners in their approaches to science, policy and local advocacy.

How does your 1% for the Planet membership promote thought leadership in your industry?

Our vision is that as Sway grows, our success is intertwined with the success of our partners. Through our membership with 1% for the Planet, we intentionally chose partners committed to the stewardship of oceans and investment in coastal communities. Why? Because seaweed is the primary feedstock across all Sway materials! As demand increases for this generous feedstock, partnership with nonprofit researchers and community leaders helps our team to make smarter sourcing decisions that promote the positive benefits of seaweed cultivation, including boosting biodiversity, improving water quality and increasing climate-resilient employment opportunities in coastal communities. Seaweed is also the source of much innovation blooming across alternative proteins, new textiles, livestock feed and beyond. Our hope is that peer companies will be inspired to similarly build holistic business models that embed positive environmental and social impact from the beginning.

What milestone in your giving journey are you most proud of?

Partnering with 1% for the Planet isn't just about giving back, but it's an opportunity for us to engage closely with our environmental partners, amplify their work with our community and collaborate in the field to protect the places we love! Highlights from the last year include the entire Sway team volunteering in restoration days and shoreline cleanups with Save The Bay, digital campaigns we ran uplifting the missions and voices of each of these partners and the inclusion of each of our partners in our TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Prize announcement this year—a moment where seaweed cultivation, ocean restoration and coastal communities all received their well-deserved moment in the sun!

Daniel Kleban, Owner of Maine Beer Company, accepting the Summit Award for Partnership. Photography by Duncan Nicholls.

Partnership with Maine Beer Company

How has environmental giving influenced your organization’s model?

Maine Beer Company’s purpose is to do good through great beer. But what does that mean? Since inception, we have focused on three different areas: taking good care of our planet, brewing high-quality beer and investing in our employees. We believe all three of these define what it means to do good. 

We see 1% for the Planet as a tool that allows us to stay true to our word of caring for our planet. By donating 1% of our gross annual sales to environmental partners, having all contributions made above and beyond a guest's final check, tracking our giving in an organized way, introducing us to environmental organizations we have never heard of, tracking not just monetary donations but other ways we give (volunteer work, in-kind donations, etc.), and much more, 1% for the Planet has helped grown our giving strategy into what it is today.

We have donated over $2.5M in giving since 2009. Our environmental giving through 1% for the Planet—combined with donations from our guests—has allowed the support of our local and national partners to grow each year. Our giving focuses on six interconnected categories that reflect many of our values: animal protection, climate action, community support, equity & inclusion, land preservation and outdoor access.

We also have a 1% for the Planet Scholarship program, where each month, our internal staff recognizes a 1% For the Planet Environmental Partner to receive a $1,000 donation. Employees fill out an application form, our scholarship committee reviews the applications and chooses a winner. Our giving goes beyond monetary as we fully engage with our partners by volunteering, pouring beers at their fundraising events, supporting them when grants or bills are passed by state legislature and much more.

How does your 1% for the Planet membership promote thought leadership in your industry?

While Maine Beer Company is one of the top brewers in the nation, our customers come to us to learn about the environmental partner projects we support—including regenerative agriculture, climate change, wildlife protection and land preservation initiatives. Through social media, newsletters and our tasting rooms' wall words, we have created communication mechanisms to build awareness of the hard work our environmental partners are doing. We also provide customers with a way to give. If you drink our beer, eat our pizza or purchase a hat, you are giving back in a simple and easy way.

What milestone in your giving journey are you most proud of?

Our giving started with just a few nonprofits that the owners were passionate about, with a small yearly contribution as a small business. It has now grown to a large network of organizations, and to date, we have donated over $2.5M to environmental partners and nonprofits that support our community. Our success as a business can be measured by how much we are able to give back each year rather than how much we earn—which is a great feeling as you see that number rise along the impact that giving has.

We are also proud of supporting various nonprofit-led projects, including Little Whaleboat IPA, that we later named a beer after. Little Whaleboat Islands (made up of Little Whaleboat, Nate and Tuck) are a cluster of three small islands and ledges in Casco Bay. The islands are a vital link in the chain of protected lands conserved by Maine Coast Heritage Trust. In 2021, Maine Beer Company pledged $50,000 to the Little Whaleboat Islands Project , which later that year, we released the Little Whaleboat IPA to draw national attention to the project and to celebrate Maine Coast Heritage Trust's work of protecting the 3,478 miles of coastline. Protection of these islands provides sanctuary to wildlife, including seals, seabirds, shorebirds and wading birds—all while preserving a unique place off the coast of Maine for future generations to experience.

Wolfe's Neck Center team and Maine Beer Company team on stage at the Summit Awards Gala. Photography by Duncan Nicholls.

Partnership with Wolfe’s Neck Center

How has environmental giving influenced your organization’s model?

Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment is a farm-based, education, research and visitor center on 600+ acres of coastal agricultural land in Freeport, Maine. Our team works to advance sustainable and regenerative agriculture through our on-farm operations, research collaborations, global networks and education and experiential programming. Wolfe’s Neck Center is dedicated to environmental preservation through agricultural solutions in the face of the climate crisis.

Our Freeport campus is free and open to the public year-round, hosting more than 40,000 visitors annually. In addition to our coastal farmland, our campus includes forested trails, livestock education barns and oceanfront camping. 

Maine Beer Company has been an integral partner in advancing our mission and increasing our local and national impact. When Maine Beer Company brought the opportunity of being a 1% for the Planet Environmental Partner to us, we could not have imagined the impact it has brought to bear. They are leading the way in “Doing What’s Right” and we feel incredibly lucky to have them as our partners.

How does your involvement with 1% for the Planet promote thought leadership around you?

Maine Beer Company’s partnership has provided an outstanding example to other businesses of how corporate partnerships can create a positive impact on urgent issues like climate change. Not only has our partnership helped to advance our mission and impact on the world, but it has also inspired other businesses to join 1% for the Planet and led to additional member partners for Wolfe’s Neck Center.

What milestone in your giving journey are you most proud of?

We are incredibly proud of our partnership with Maine Beer Company—particularly how thoughtful and responsive they are in relation to the support of our work. Not only does Maine Beer Company provide unrestricted funding, they also offer their coveted products to our events that support our work. One milestone we are particularly proud of from our partnership is Maine Beer Company’s support to reimagine our campus and transition from fossil fuels. This imagination included the build-out of our organic dairy and the construction of a new campus centerpiece built to Passive House standards. Maine Beer Company helped with the purchase of solar panels that have significantly helped us get closer to producing more energy on campus than we consume.

Take Action

Learn about all Summit Award nominees and join the movement by becoming a 1% for the Planet member!

Special thanks to this year’s Global Summit Sponsors: Avocado Green Brands, Bona Furtuna, Booth & Partners, Experience Momentum, Hemmings House Pictures Ltd., Innersense Organic Beauty, Verdical Group, PINK, OXO, Nomadix, Nécessaire, Inc., Naturepedic, Wander Home, Zing Collaborative, 818 Spirits and Live Printing.

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