As consumers become more aware of the consequences of their choices, market demand is shifting toward environmentally sustainable products, companies, and lifestyles. Customers increasingly expect more from businesses when it comes to social and environmental responsibility, and companies are working to meet these higher expectations.
1% for the Planet (ftP) continues to be a nexus for environmentally minded leaders to consider the environment and conservation in their day-to-day business decisions. 1%ftP partners with businesses of all stages and sizes that each commit to donating 1% of annual sales to environmentally or sustainably focused nonprofits. In turn, 1%ftP often links beneficiaries to donors, forming a powerful network of companies and organizations working toward solving local and global environmental problems.
This piece spotlights three of Santa Barbara’s newest 1%ftP members: Horny Toad, Plum Goods, and Sockwa – each with their own approach to supporting and promoting sustainability. Through innovative leadership; beauty and sophistication; and game changing technology, these 1%ftP members exemplify the power of business in creating a sustainable future.
Horny Toad: Leadership and Social Good
Horny Toad, based in Santa Barbara, CA, recently joined the 1%ftP network. Horny Toad is an outdoor clothing company dedicated to providing quality products and promoting environmental sustainability.
“I loved the idea of getting into this [outdoor apparel] industry because it rewarded socially and environmentally responsible behavior,” stated Horny Toad CEO, Gordon Seabury. “The whole point in choosing this business path was based on the ability to really achieve this [responsible behavior] and have customers reward us.”
Although a new addition to 1%ftP, Horny Toad is no stranger to socially and environmentally responsible business practices. Composting, recycling, and encouraging sustainability have been integral in shaping Horny Toad’s corporate culture since its early days.
“We went 100% organic in our second year and almost went out of business in the process,” said Seabury jokingly. “But, we got into the industry and decided to build the brand because we wanted to have the biggest impact on the environment.”
One of the company’s most exciting projects was developed in 1997 in partnership with Search Developmental Center (SDC). The outcome was Planet Access Company (PAC), which, through the “Search for Adventure Program,” provides access to wilderness areas and pristine natural settings for adults with disabilities. Horny Toad has been doing great things for a long time, but hadn’t joined 1%ftP until now because it wanted to remain focused on projects like these.
“We didn’t want to divert financial resources away from our social mission,” Seabury explained. With SDC recently joining 1%ftP as a nonprofit recipient bridging environmental awareness and social good, the work of SDC/PAC continues, now with the added value of the 1%ftP brand behind its name.
Seabury’s enthusiasm for joining the 1%ftP network demonstrates his commitment to the environment, and to sharing this commitment with others. “Our intention is to talk to businesses that aren’t necessarily committed to sustainability and introduce them to why that shift is valuable – not just from a ‘feel good’ perspective but from a practical business perspective…the 1%ftP label makes it easier to have that discussion.”
By harnessing its outstanding reputation for environmental and social responsibility, and by using its brand recognition, Horny Toad is utilizing its leadership to promote sustainability on the local and national scales. One of Seabury’s goals is to help cultivate more environmentally focused businesses in Santa Barbara County.
“We hope that one day Santa Barbara and the greater area will be viewed as one of the leaders in 1%ftP,” he said. “We are most excited about seeing this network of like-minded businesses be mobilized to have the greatest impact possible.”
Plum Goods: Beauty and Sophistication
While 1%ftP embraces companies like Horny Toad who utilize their leadership and market presence to encourage responsible business, 1% ftP also welcomes membership from smaller businesses. Plum Goods, founded in 2010, is promoting environmental sustainability through art, beauty, and sophistication.
“Products can be good for the environment and they can be beautiful and sophisticated – but a lot of people don’t recognize that,” said Amy Cooper, Plum Goods owner and founder. “They don’t realize that we can live ‘luxurious’ lifestyles that are better for people and the environment. We want to change that.”
Cooper believes that the market was really calling for a store like Plum Goods, because Santa Barbara just didn’t have one prior to 2010.
In addition to impacting local residents, Plum Goods is helping educate consumers who don’t necessarily live in Santa Barbara County. Many of the store’s visitors are tourists. “We lead with great products that people love. Customers like our products even before they find out that they’re made locally or from sustainable or recycled materials. Our store connects consumers to the bigger picture.”
A customer or tourist will walk into Plum Goods buy a locally crafted, handmade, upcycled product, and leave with a concrete connection not only to Santa Barbara, but also to an environmentally sound product and a more sustainable way of life.
Cooper always wanted to become a 1%ftP member and believes that membership in a network of businesses with similar environmental goals will help Plum Goods continue to grow in its capacity to reduce environmental impacts and promote sustainability.
“It took us four years to join the 1%ftP family,” she said. “But now we’re here, we’re selling products, and we’re contributing to sustainability. It’s who I want to be, and 1%ftP is helping Plum reach these goals.”
“We hope we can be a big contributor to 1%ftP and that the 1%ftP model will be the way of the future.”
Sockwa: Innovative Technology
Corporate sustainability is more than an image – it’s a way of life. For 1%ftP members, it’s a way of doing business down to the core. Every sector of an environmentally conscious company consistently works to reduce impact and increase innovation by encouraging environmental responsibility on a large scale.
Sockwa, an innovative footwear company based in Oxnard, CA, tells us to “tread earth lightly,” emphasizing their vision for transforming the shoe industry. “Our tagline is tread earth lightly – it’s truly about minimal footwear with minimal environmental impact,” said David Zasloff, founder and CEO of Sockwa.
“Sockwa was born out of beach soccer. Players needed something to wear on their feet in the sand, so we developed a beach sock,” said Zasloff. “From there, we turned a sock into a shoe. It’s about being as close to the earth as you can be.”
Like Horny Toad and Plum Goods, Sockwa has been committed to reducing environmental impact from its earliest days. “We use a plastic outsole, not a rubber outsole, and bio-plastics are the next step,” Zasloff explained. “Plastic is better for the environment than rubber, in terms of energy used, and bio-plastic is even better. Using plastic, for us, is a step toward sustainability. We use the plastic sole to accentuate the fact that we are working toward a better planet.”
Sockwa’s innovative technology could eventually eliminate an environmentally harmful step in shoe manufacturing world wide, but for Zasloff it’s not just about the impact of input materials, it’s also about the impact of shipping and transporting. “Our product takes up a lot less space and thus requires less carbon to move product around the world,” he remarked. “We are always working toward increased sustainability.”
Joining 1%ftP will help Sockwa learn from industry leaders, connecting with like-minded businesses that give back to community groups doing conservation work.
“1%ftP is a step for us – a way for us to become more aware as a company,” said Zasloff. “1% ftP is a community, and that’s helpful in itself. We will benefit from networking with like-minded companies and people, enabling us to make future changes with our own product.”
For Sockwa, joining 1%ftP isn’t the end goal. It’s the beginning. “We are constantly taking steps. Joining 1%ftP is a step. Integrating with other companies is a step. Giving money to environmental causes is another. Reworking our product and packaging to keep things efficient is another. We try to do what’s good for everybody.”
Zasloff took his commitment to another, more personal, level upon joining 1%ftP.
“I shaved my head when I joined 1%ftP, and for as long as we give away 1% of our sales, I’m keeping my head shaved. It’s a great conversation starter and a symbol of my environmental commitment.” Way to go David!!
Give Back to Blue
The three examples above showcase how 1%ftP has mobilized new and innovative companies to do more, while doing better and giving back. Blending business, lifestyle and community, we are excited to see what happens next as these great minds and companies – Horny Toad, Plum Goods, and Sockwa- collaborate under the 1%ftP banner to make the world a better place.