Wallop joins 1% for the Planet
At 1% for the Planet, 2020 is off to a phenomenal start. In such a pivotal year, we’re seeing a surge of businesses and individuals taking responsibility for our environment and taking action on climate. Under the leadership of Stephen Saugestad and Martin Glegg, sister companies Wallop and Wallop Film decided that it was time to commit to giving 1% back to the planet.
We could not be more excited to announce Wallop’s membership. Operating within the luxury travel industry, Wallop is not only joining in the discussion of eco-friendly travel, but quickly becoming an industry leader within sustainable business practices—proving that any industry can truly be at least 1% better.
We recently talked with Principal Stephen Saugestad about Wallop’s road to becoming a 1% for the Planet member. We hope his story inspires you to check us out and motivates you to ask yourself — how can I Be 1% Better?
Q&A with Wallop Principal Stephen Saugestad
What is your story and how does this connect with your work?
I’ve been fortunate to live in some distinct cultures between Japan, Norway, Hawaii, and now Vancouver. I’m the child of a seafaring nomad, and I’ve spent a lot of time in the water surfing in Hawaii and internationally. So I’ve always had a strong connection to the ocean. That’s what drew me to the issue of sustainability.
I saw a contrast between countries first hand. For example, whales are treated very differently between Japan and Hawaii. It’s the same for pollution and garbage, mostly because of infrastructure. It’s not hard to see how stressed the ocean is, and where things are headed if we don’t change course.
How did you learn about 1%?
I was familiar with the organization because of my affinity for Patagonia and it’s founder, Yvon Chouinard. His story of being a reluctant businessman really resonated with me, because I also have an irregular relationship with business and corporate culture at large.
But more recently, it was my partner Martin Glegg that really pushed for membership. I think we were also influenced by Jakob Ager, a 1% member, advocate, and outstanding outdoor photographer who did a stint with us. Once we decided to sign up Wallop Film, it didn’t take long for me to realize it was also the right move for Wallop.
You all work in the luxury travel space. Travel is known to be a big contributor to climate change, and hotels tend to have very unsustainable practices. What are your thoughts on this?
It’s true, travel is notorious for causing inordinate harm to the environment. The most obvious culprits are fuel consumption and emissions from transportation, and single-use products. It’s been on the minds of brands for a while now, but up to this point it’s been a lot of greenwashing. Washing towels and sheets less often is a good thing, but it’s not going to move the needle.
Do you think there is more awareness about the environmental impact of travel? Are you seeing this in your work?
Definitely. People are demanding more from travel brands. This is because travelers have needs that go way beyond relaxation. They are looking for personal growth, authenticity, and altruism. These are values we identify with travelers in our work.
People want to know that they’re not shitting on the environment or trampling on the culture when they visit. It doesn’t have to be a trade-off, and brands that cater to those values will resonate better with their customers.
Why did you decide to partner with 1% for the Planet?
It’s a way for us to give back, for our contribution to the environmental impact of travel. We promote travel and hospitality brands, so we are part of the problem.
We are supporting charities like Sustainable Travel and Adventure Conservation Fund, who work to mitigate the harm caused by travel to the environment and culture. It’s an opportunity for us to be part of the solution.
We also push the idea in our brand work, that you have to align the organization’s values with those of the people it’s trying to attract. We’ve done some rebranding recently, and I’ve realized we need to take some of our own medicine. Most of the people who work in this business are in their 20’s and 30’s, and they are passionate about the environment. So our brand needed to reflect the values of our employees.
What’s the impact of companies like Wallop and Wallop Film joining?
Unfettered capitalism has been very bad for the planet. Up to this point, businesses have existed solely for the benefit of the shareholder; to profit. But it feels like we’re at an inflection point. People are starting to demand more from businesses, and they want to know that brands they support are also responsible, and working towards a solution. More and more, businesses are considering things beyond shareholders, about their impact on the environment, and other ways they can provide value to the world.
What I hope is that we are adding to this momentum, because clearly the government doesn’t have the tools or mandate to do enough. We need business to be part of the problem if we hope to preserve this planet for future generations.
Do you have any advice for other companies who may be considering membership to 1%?
Do your homework. Start a conversation in your company. The discovery process is the first step, and will often lead to some epiphanies. Yes, the financial impact can feel like a lot, because it’s easy to measure. Consider the value it provides to your brand and culture. Not just the brand equity from the association with 1% for the Planet, but the effect it will have on the people that work in the business, and those you are hoping to recruit.
I also hope that more business owners will consider the value their business can provide to the world beyond the jobs and profit.