Small businesses lead the climate fight with CSR

Caroline Knapp

Small businesses are putting up a big fight against climate change—all through corporate social responsibility (CSR).  By building best-in-class CSR practices into their business models early, small businesses prove their dedication to changing business as usual. And as their businesses grow, so does their positive impact.  

Small businesses make up over 80% of the 1% for the Planet network—donating $40,958,918 to environmental organizations since 2002. The 1% for the Planet network operates around the globe, but the majority of our business members aren’t global companies. 1% for the Planet members are small locally-owned shops, breweries, agencies, startups and just about everything in between. Although 1% for the Planet members span a wide range of industries, they all have one thing in common: small businesses are leading the way with CSR through environmental giving.

Why do small businesses give back?

Supporting our planet through CSR is beneficial for businesses of all sizes—but showcasing that commitment from the start can set a small business apart from the rest. A recent Forbes article explains that 81% of millennials aim to support companies with corporate social responsibility. With younger generations following that mindset, businesses must prove their authentic commitment to the environment to gain consumer loyalty.

The benefits of successfully implementing CSR practices go beyond positive impact. Small businesses can use environmental initiatives as a way to strengthen company values, enhance employee engagement, network with like-minded entrepreneurs and become pioneers in their community. When small businesses give back, they gain credibility and strengthen community connections.

How impactful can 1% be?

To date, 1% for the Planet has certified over $500 million in donations to environmental organizations. And with a majority of small businesses in our network, we can assure you that 1% adds up.

Research from Harvard Business School shows that consumers care more about the percentage of giving than the dollar amount. And, as a business scales, their impact grows, too.

“Since 2009 our purpose has been to do good through great beer. 1% For the Planet has helped us meet this purpose as we have donated over $2.5M to environmental nonprofits across the globe to date. Taking care of our planet will always be a core value of our business and our customers appreciate this and continue to drink our beer.” – Kristan Vermeulen, Communications Manager of Maine Beer Company

Through our flexible giving model, small businesses can give back in more ways than just monetary donations. From volunteer time to product and service donations, each business’ 1% commitment can look different. In the end, consumers care most about the time, energy and effort a business puts toward CSR initiatives—not just the numerical value.

What’s our network saying?

Small businesses support the majority of 1% for the Planet’s network. Their environmental giving creates a direct impact on our environmental partners and catalyzes grassroots movements across the globe. Below, our small business members tell us how environmental giving is beneficial to their business model:

“As a small business, environmental giving has helped us to create a strong work identity and brand culture that is appealing to our team members. We are more likely to secure new hires because this resonates with our culture!” – Benjamin Soto & Cristobal de Alba, Co-founders of Zenith Adventure Media
“As a small business in the fashion industry just four months in, it's been especially trying to keep the production side of the business adhering to the standards of sustainability that we aim towards… Thankfully with 1% for the Planet, it's been reassuring to know that our output has a more simple and easy-to-manage process for us to make a positive impact from the fruits of our labor.” – Greg Hall, Co-founder of SLICE GOLF

Take Action

1% for the Planet small business members are proving that you don't have to be a big corporation to grab consumer attention—or have CSR. Show your environmental commitment and certify your giving through a 1% for the Planet membership.

Title photography by Zenith Adventure Media.

"Commit, then figure it out"

Doug Tompkins, dear friend and one of the great influences of 1% for the Planet's founders.