Archive for 2012
Posted on December 27th, 2012 by jon
As we race towards the end of the year, we want to let our readers know about a couple of exciting firms to recently come aboard. Here’s a big 1% for the Planet shout out to Entropy Resins and Packaging Networking Events!
Based in Hayward, California, Entropy Resins is an innovative developer of epoxy resin systems for a new generation of products. With a firm belief that there’s no better chemist than Mother Nature, Entropy Resins develops materials that strike a balance between performance and environmental sustainability. The company’s Super Sap® line of bio-derived epoxy resins allow for strong and durable composites, coatings, and adhesives. By replacing petroleum-based chemicals with renewable, bio-based materials, sourced as a co-product or from the waste stream of other industrial processes, they are able to lower the resins’ environmental impact in its manufacturing. The company’s goal is to initiate change in the chemical industry and improve its environmental footprint.
Entropy Resins is also setting precedent in the chemical industry by evaluating and verifying the environmental benefits of its products with the use of techniques such as life cycle analysis and bio-based content testing. The Super Sap® 100/1000 system is the first epoxy system to receive acceptance into the USDA BioPreferredSM Certification program.
1% for the Planet is really impressed with the work these guys are doing and are thrilled that they decided to join the network. Here’s a little information about the founding team’s background.
Rey Banatao, PhD – Polymer Chemistry
With over 15 years R&D experience in biochemistry, Rey leads the sourcing and development of our biobased materials for Entropy Resins. Most recently he was a NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at the California Nanosystems Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. He holds a BA in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley and a PhD in Computational Biology from the University of California, San Francisco.
Desi Banatao, MSE – Engineering
With experience in industry and research, Desi leads applications engineering and materials design for Entropy Resins. His experience includes developing and commercializing new material systems ranging from semiconductors to composites. He has held positions at IBM and Inphi Corp, and holds a BS and MS in Material Science and Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.
Welcome again to Rey and Desi and welcome Entropy Resins! We’re looking forward to this amazing partnership.
During the 4th Quarter of the year, the 1% network in France continued to grow. We love to see the impact that this enthusiasm equates to in the region. Based in Billancourt, France, Packaging Networking Events is one of these new additions.
Patricia Damour said, “1% for the Planet does an amazing job and I am happy to participate to this common cause we share.”
Packaging Networking Events organizes private events, business workshops, and evening talks dedicated to companies in various industries. Their events are shaped to be the perfect place for open debates dedicated to those wishing to argue, debate, produce and share whatever ideas and topics are proposed.
A keyword that defines these events is sharing; “collaboration is the core of the sustainability model we all dream of.”
According to Patricia, “we decided to join 1% for the Planet because we share the same positive values and promote these through our events. The event industry is a strong vehicle to educate on the challenges of sustainability. Beyond giving a percentage of our sales to an association, we also wish to implement partnerships on a pro-bono basis in the field of international logistics.”
It’s great to have Packaging Networking Events in the family!
Posted on December 21st, 2012 by Leah
Not everyone has the physique to bike naked for a cause, but we can all support those
working for a sustainable future. Consider supporting 1% for the Planet as we grow the network as a powerful engine for change.
EVERY DOLLAR MATTERS—AND GETS MULTIPLIED
Your gift today allows us to sign up more companies which in turn direct more funding towards worthy environmental causes, it is truly an investment with the promise of a powerful return. To date, every dollar invested in 1% for the Planet has leveraged more than 40 dollars for the planet. So your investment will create a powerful ripple effect across both the business and the natural world.
Posted on December 21st, 2012 by pauline
We made it through one of the biggest shopping weekends of the season: Thanksgiving, and now Christmas is just around the corner. In addition to meaning delicious food, family traditions, and of course, food again (leftovers… yum!), it has also come to mean a weekend of big deals (Black Friday), local love (Small Business Saturday), cyber steals (Cyber Monday), and a new addition that we love at 1% for the Planet – Giving Tuesday. If you’re not familiar with Giving Tuesday, you can learn more about it in this article, featuring none other than our very own Melody Badgett.
So why does Giving Tuesday matter?
It provides an opportunity for nonprofit organizations to engage consumers, businesses, and potential donors in conversation and raise awareness for current initiatives. Several 1% for the Planet partners were involved this year including The Trustees of Reservations and Essex County Greenbelt Association. Both organizations used social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, to share the message of Giving Tuesday.
We think Giving Tuesday is a great addition to the shopping-centric holiday weekend. At 1% for the Planet, our members choose to give back on an annual basis and support nonprofit organizations all year round. Not only does this holiday provide a day where these nonprofit partners can have meaningful engagement with their audience via social media and other channels, but more importantly: it gets the conversation going and inspires other individuals and businesses to think about giving as we head into this holiday season.
With that in mind, we have a challenge for you: continue the spirit of Giving Tuesday through the holiday season. Throughout the month of December we have been highlighting members on our Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest channels. We’re proud of our members and the commitment they make every year when they pledge to donate 1% of their sales.
If you have a minute before you brave the cold (‘cold’ is spot on for where we are), check out our members and see what businesses are near you. From chocolates to jewelry, and everything in between – our members offer great products that you can feel good about giving as gifts. Supporting a 1% for the Planet member in your area is a double feel good: you’re supporting your local economy and a business that gives back 1% of their sales to environmental causes. So, when you’re looking for that perfect gift, remember to carry on the spirit of Giving Tuesday!
Don’t forget to share your pictures with us on Twitter & Instagram, using the hashtag #LoveYourMother, so we can see which 1% FTP network affiliates you are supporting this holiday season!
Posted on December 21st, 2012 by jon
Although the year is soon wrapping up, we’re continuing to add exciting new members to the 1% network each and every day. And really, is there a better time than the giving season to make the commitment to donating to the environment. In recent weeks, CS Seminare and Business Coaching, Bagsgo Reusable Bags, and Moccatomic have all come on board to help us finish the year strong!
Based in Burgthann, Germany, CS Seminare & Business Coaching offers organizational-development within a network of profit and non-profit organizations.
In his own words, Christoph Schlachte says, “I am very impressed by the book from Yvon Chouinard, “Let my people go surfing”. I agree with many points he made. Especially I like the ideas that prove that business should be done in a way that creates as little negative impact on the environment as possible and that profits should not drive each decision. We need to care much more about our resources. That also means that we should reassess the way we work and do business together. That is a point that I want to consider more in my private and business life.” 1% for the Planet is one way that Christoph is showing his commitment to being a force of positive change.
Also joining in December was Bagsgo Reusable Bags, our very first business member located in the Philippines! Yes, that’s right, a true leader in their country.
Bagsgo Reusable Bags is in the business of selling reusable bags that are lightweight and come in bright colors. The bags are made of an extremely durable parachute material. BagsGo Reusable Bags’ goal is to promote good living and respect for the environment by giving people an affordable alternative to plastic grocery bags.
They promote an economically and environmentally sensible and prudent lifestyle by:
· educating consumers so that they always have a reusable bag on hand
· encouraging consumers to be more environmentally conscious
· promoting the importance of being passionate and committed to a better, safer, and beautiful earth.
· Creating a product of exceptional quality at a price that is affordable.
We applaud Bagsgo’s efforts and are thrilled about the potential of extending the 1% network into a new territory. Creating this partnership is a great start! Go BagsGo!
Last, but not least we added an amazing new company right here in New England. Moccatomic is a unique new footwear manufacturer based in Concord, MA. Built with the sensibility of the New England utility-driven spirit, Moccatomic combines the two footwear components of the timeless style and familiar appeal of a hand-sewn moccasin with the custom-forming comfort and support of an anatomic cork midsole. These shoes look amazingly comfortable and we are psyched to give them a try.
The President of Moccatomic, Jong Yan recently posted this inspiring rundown about the company’s heritage and mission:
“I was fortunate to have spent the formative years of my career working (and playing!) in the outdoor industry. During this time, I had the opportunity, to work both for and with many incredibly bright, talented, passionate, and inspiring people.
In contrast, I never met — nor even caught a glimpse of — Mr. Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, though he, his company, and his products, were often the subject of analysis, competitive review, gossip, admiration, and envy. Neither a surfer nor a rock climber (‘no duh’ – as any of my daughters would say), I first read his book, Let My People Go Surfing (LMPGS), soon after leaving Timberland in 2008 (having some new-found spare time without the daily 120-mile commute each day up to Stratham, NH).
During that first read, long before hand-lasted moccasins on anatomic cork bottoms were even a glimmer on my horizon, I didn’t have a clear idea of what I was going to do beyond my then, full-time role as chef, chauffeur, and chaperone to three teenage daughters. So I enjoyed the book as an interesting and insightful peek into a long-admired man and his company.
Of more immediate interest was the last chapter in the book about the 1% for the Planet Alliance, which Mr. Chouinard had established to increase the effectiveness of environmental activism, and which Terry Kellogg, a friend and respected colleague at Timberland, had recently gone to lead.
Fast forward to last week. Now a little over a year since launching Moccatomic, I brought LMPGS to re-read during our family’s Thanksgiving getaway. What was once an enjoyable, interesting read about how one man once envisioned and hand-hammered a better piton, and now enables and inspires environmental activism around the world— all while building a widely respected company that makes highly coveted products (just look into my daughters’ closets) — has become like drinking business-building wisdom from a fire hose.
The mission statement at Patagonia states,
Make the best product possible, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
Inspiring?… indeed. Humbling?… yes, that, too. With 260 pages covering philosophies on everything from image to distribution — what’s a start-up to do? where does one begin? As a product guy my entire career, I know my interest and passion will compel me to make the best footwear possible. But as for the other dimensions of becoming the company that I need and dream to be?… yikes.
This picture was taken last week, and it immediately reminded me of my favorite story from the wonderful and dedicated folks at City Year, with whom I had the pleasure to serve on many occasions while at Timberland. The Starfish story goes…
A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had washed up during a terrible storm. One-by-one, she picked up each starfish and threw it back into the ocean, while people watched her with amusement. She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said,
Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,
Well, I made a difference to that one!
The man looked at the girl inquisitively, and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea.(Adapted from “The Star Thrower” by Loren C. Eiseley.)
So, can I make a difference? I can, and here goes my first starfish.
I’m pleased to announce that Moccatomic is member #2979 of the 1% for the Planet Alliance .
I am humbled and inspired as I join the family of other fine organizations in doing what I can to make positive change and donating 1% of sales each year towards active efforts to help the environment.
Time to pull up the bootstraps… and get going!
What an amazing story and one that is timely given the holiday season. We couldn’t be happier to have Moccatomic as part of the 1% for the Planet family!
Thank you to all our new members and happy holidays!
Posted on December 14th, 2012 by brittany
Well, personally this is my favorite time of the year, and I hope that whoever may be reading this post is just as excited! ‘Tis the season for sipping hot cider, reconnecting with dear friends and family, and gifting thoughtfully (have you heard about our #LoveYourMother campaign!? Get at it!). I hope that you’re all looking forward to a wonderful holiday in great company.
And now, before we sign off for the holidays, Rebecca and I wanted to extend a huge thank you to our California network for a remarkable past few weeks. Thank you to Shaper Studios and to Klean Kanteen for most recently hosting 1% network gatherings.
Down south in San Diego, we brought together folks from The San Diego River Park Foundation, Fathom Change, Squeeze Play (thanks for the bounty of produce Brad, Alicia and Kristin!), Drips Water, San Diego Coastkeeper, and Van Eck Enterprises. Derrik showed the group around Shaper Studios, where he and co-owner, Chris Clark, help customers create DIY surfboards, or as Derrik says, “the surfboard version of build-a-bear.” If you’re in need of a new board anytime soon, be sure to check them out!
Up north in Chico, Rebecca and I walked into the Klean Kanteen headquarters to find co-owner, Michelle, skipping on – obviously – a skipper. Work becomes a bit more fun when you’ve got Just Jump It adjacent to your offices! Jeff and Caroleigh gave us a great tour around their facilities where we got to peer in at what they said was “just a sampling” of their co-branded water bottles — shelves upon shelves full, and take a stop in to see their packing and shipping warehouse (photo below), which is quite the operation during this holiday time! We were then joined by member companies YourCableStore.com, California Solar Electric Company, and nonprofit partner Bridging the Gap, for a more in depth discussion about 1% partnerships and opportunities. Thank you guys for making the trip to join us!
We’re really looking forward to working with our California network in the coming new year to put these thoughts and ideas into action. The feedback we’ve acquired from these gatherings has been enormously helpful and will be the backbone of our 2013 business plan. If thoughts arise in the meantime – comments, suggestions, questions – please do send them my way (email@example.com)!
It’s been our pleasure having had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with so many of the people behind our network these past few months! Thank you for teaching Rebecca and myself so much about this vast landscape – all the way from San Diego to Chico! We’re very much looking forward to continuing the conversation. Happy Holidays!
Posted on December 14th, 2012 by barbara
Photo credit: Tom Meredith/USFWS
What region comes to mind? It’s northwestern New Hampshire and Maine; and it’s how large-scale habitat protection happens. Northern New England has been flagged as an invaluable ecological unit for adaptation to climate change so habitat protection is essential here. We can all benefit from supporting a local, grassroots approach to conservation in the Northeast corner of the US.
The Upper Androscoggin Watershed and High Peaks Region in New Hampshire and Maine exemplify what happens when private landowners and government work together for the ultimate benefit of the community and the planet.
This area has:
- Approximately 2 million acres
- Over 100 “Great Ponds” (i.e. greater than ten acres),
- Over 450 miles of named rivers
- Over 3,000 miles of perennial and intermittent streams
- Numerous mountains over 2,700 feet in elevation, the refugia zone for spruce fir forest during past climate warming events
- Large blocks of core conservation lands, building blocks for landscape scale conservation
It’s a valuable forested area and habitat that successfully demonstrates multiple use around conservation, outdoor recreation, sustainably forestry and healthy communities.
The region’s qualities have been recognized in numerous public vetted processes, e.g. the Department of Interior ‘America’s Great Outdoors’ Initiatives and the Nature Conservancy’s “Resilient Sites for Terrestrial Conservation in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Region”.
An effort between the Appalachian Mountain Club, The Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, and The Trust for Public Land is the collaborative that drives this plan. The goal is to build on and connect large continuous blocks of land. They do this by:
- Identifying contiguous blocks of land to protect key parcels
- Reaching out to the communities to garner input and ideally public support
- Brokering land transactions – identify new land funding, financing and ownership mechanisms
- Balancing land protection with economic development through sustainable forestry and outdoor recreation
Successes to date:
- 31,000 acres contiguous to the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge protected
- Over $20 million raised since 2005
- $5 million Maine Land Protection Bond passed in November 2012
Challenges to completing the project:
- Local misunderstandings that land protection reduces local taxes
- Lack of knowledge that fiber supplies and forestry jobs today are influenced by past intensive harvesting above sustainable rates and mechanization in the industry, not by land protection that permits sustainable forestry.
- Lower land prices in tight economic times are opportunities for conservation, but funding is difficult to achieve
- Partial dismantling of the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC)
Call to Action
This initiative has targeted an additional 50,000 acres, requiring more than $20 million in acquisition costs that need to be raised to make it happen.
Currently almost one-third of this area has conservation protection. For the area’s full potential to be met, additional buffer land protection to and connectivity between the Mahoosucs, Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, the Rangeley Lakes region protected lands and western Maine High Peaks region is needed.
Please consider donating directly to, joining and supporting the partner organizations doing this vital work:
Appalachian Mountain Club: The oldest US conservation and recreation organization with a focus on the northeastern US. It has been a leader in Northern Forest protection through its research, ability to mobilize outdoor enthusiast and to pull different interest groups together, and advocacy.
The Trust for Public Land: A national organization that makes land transactions happen. They have brokered protection of more than 200,000 acres in this region alone.
Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust: Maine based, works with state and federal government, conservation organizations, corporations and individuals to protect the unique character of northwestern Maine.
Contact Heather Clish, AMC’s Director of Conservation & Recreation Policy, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-391-6580 with any further questions.
Posted on December 13th, 2012 by jon
When prospective businesses contact 1% for the Planet, we’re always excited to see what type of market or industry they’re involved in. You never know if it’s going to be a new micro brewery in Minnesota, a company making bracelets in Costa Rica, or a surf company in Australia. It’s amazing to see sustainability taking hold in almost every industry. New members of the 1% for the Planet family, Nowhere, Alp Fitness, and Tikun Collective represent the diversity that makes our network so special.
Based out of Broolyn, New York, Nowhere is a journal of literary travel writing, photography and art. This is not a journal that runs reviews of spas or shopping centers or Top 10 Vacation Getaways. Nowhere is only interested in what they see as the three elements of travel: people, place and time.
More than anything, Nowhere tries to relate authentic stories from the field. In kind, Nowhere recently joined forces with Ethical Traveler to show how travel and tourism (they’re different) affect communities in good and damaging ways. According to Editor Porter Fox, “We feel that 1% For the Planet has a similar goal: to show that sustainability is the only way to continue doing what we love to do. We’re excited to join up and do our small part, both financially and as a voice in the travel industry.”
If you haven’t already done so, you should definitely take a look at their amazing work. We recommend making sure your schedule is flexible; once you start reading, it’s hard to stop.
If you’ve finished reading and are ready to start exercising, you’ll want to learn more about California based Alp Fitness. Their belief was that joining 1% for the Planet was the next logical step for a business that provides personal coaching and training services to triathletes and runners.
“As an enterprise dedicated to promoting health and fitness, Alp Fitness is a firm believer in giving back to the community by funding projects for a healthier world,” notes Adam Hodges, founder and head coach of Alp Fitness.
Alp Fitness currently supports the non-profit Shoe4Africa by encouraging runners to donate their used running shoes help prevent hookworm and promote health and fitness programs in Kenya. It is also donating to Shoe4Africa’s hospital building project by pledging $1 for every copy sold of a new training book, The Endurance Athlete’s Guide, written by Hodges.
Now as a member of 1% for the Planet, Alp Fitness is looking to expand the funding to environmentally focussed initiatives by supporting organizations involved in trail building and bicycle advocacy.
Located right in the middle, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Tikun Collective is an innovative new design and architecture firm. Tikun Collective believes that design can help repair the world. The name comes from the Hebrew phrase, “tikkun olam” and means repairing the world. It’s one of their core values and it guides the overall design philosophy. According to ownership, “we begin this work by salvaging scrap materials to craft your environment. We launched this spring with our first product, our Zara lamp kit, a lamp using an LED bulb for low energy use and a shade made from salvaged mat board. Tikun is a design and architecture collective working at multiple scales and on multiple projects with hopes of expanding our design reach to all types of buildings and product lines by employing the most sound and genuine sustainable practices and materials. This is just the beginning, come join us and learn more.”
Tikun Collective was inspired to join 1% for the Planet because they wanted to show that their commitment to repairing the world goes beyond their words, their products and their work. As they say, “we can’t wait to expand our network of friends and partners for collaboration, activism and solidarity in the most important challenge facing us today – how to heal our culture and world.”
We love having new members from all over the country and in a wide variety of industries. As the breadth and size of the network grows, so will our ability to effect positive change! Thank you for your efforts Nowhere, Alp Fitness, and Tikun Collective.
Posted on December 12th, 2012 by gaelan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–For more information, contact:
Dean Zatkowsky, Orfalea, Dean@Orfalea.org, (805) 565-7550 x108
Gaelan Brown, 1% for the Planet, Gaelan@onepercentfortheplanet.org, (802) 496-5408
December 12, 2012 – Santa Barbara, CA – 1% for the Planet (1%FTP) in partnership with the Orfalea Foundation (Orfalea), has launched a multi-year effort to increase environmental stewardship through expansion of the 1% FTP network in California.
Founded in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard of Ventura-based Patagonia and Craig Mathews of Blue Ribbon Flies, 1%FTP is an alliance of businesses that donate at least 1% of revenue to non-profit organizations focused on sustainability. The Orfalea Foundation and 1% for the Planet share an interest in promoting long-term, thoughtful stewardship of California’s unique environmental resources, and invite like-minded businesses to join in the effort.
California is home to more than 300 1%FTP member companies, including Clif Bar, Paramount Citrus, Planet Petco and Wonderful Pistachios. Central Coast members include Patagonia (Ventura), and Vapur (Westlake Village). Non-profit partner organizations include Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, Community Environmental Council, Environmental Defense Center, Surfrider Foundation, the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, and Los Padres ForestWatch.
“California is home to successful businesses founded and staffed by people with a commitment to social and environmental responsibility and supported by customers who appreciate those values,” said 1%FTP Vice President of Development and Partnerships Rebecca Calahan Klein. “We see unique opportunities to grow the 1% FTP network in the Central Coast and other regions with significant concentrations of high-growth entrepreneurial businesses that value healthy communities and a healthy planet.”
“When businesses align their purpose with their consumers’ concerns, they collectively increase the bottom line,” said Orfalea Foundation Strategic Partnerships Director Barbara Andersen. “That increased bottom line makes giving easier, which in turn results in more productive communities and a healthier ecosystem.”
This initiative will raise awareness in the business community of key sustainability challenges in California and create opportunities for businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals to work together to address these challenges. “This effort will bring a new level of financial resources, human capital and innovation to the critical tasks of protecting California’s unique environmental resources, and producing food, water, shelter, transportation and energy in a more sustainable manner,” adds Klein.
“This partnership reflects the entrepreneurial spirit of our founders and our foundation, and our dedication to convening diverse organizations and individuals to solve big problems,” said Lois Mitchell, President of the Orfalea Foundation. “Moreover, it helps provide a platform for collaboration with the business community to further our work in areas such as school food reform, school garden programs, community disaster resiliency and food security, outdoor education and leadership development.”
“1% for the Planet applauds companies that invest in organizations working to create a more sustainable world. We are excited about the opportunity to grow our California network and to work closely with the Orfalea Foundation on initiatives in the Central Coast region that will contribute to sustainability in the region, and inspire change around the globe,” said Terry Kellogg, 1% FTP CEO.
About 1% for the Planet
Started in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, owner of Blue Ribbon Flies, 1% for the Planet is a platform of credibility and engagement for environmentally conscious brands that are truly committed to making a positive impact with their business. This global movement of more than 1000 member companies in 45 countries donate one percent of annual sales directly to approved environmental organizations worldwide, and new members join on a daily basis. 1%FTP annually reviews financial records to certify that member businesses meet their commitment. The 1% FTP brand receives more than 150 million annual media impressions and an estimated 1 billion annual impressions through logo placement on member products. To learn more go to: www.onepercentfortheplanet.org.
About the Orfalea Foundation
Devoted to “Strengthening Communities by Empowering Individuals,” the Orfalea Foundation works on diverse initiatives in a singularly entrepreneurial way. With a bias for action, the foundation invests in initiatives focused on community disaster preparedness and recovery, school food reform, early childhood education, youth development, and lifelong learning. Learn more at www.OrfaleaFoundation.org
Posted on December 11th, 2012 by gaelan
By Kat Schuett (photo by Darren Miller Photography)
For more than four months now, I have been living out of a Volkswagen camper wrapped in the Proposition 37 “Right to Know” logo, traveling up and down the state of California to rally support for the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Now that the election has come and gone, my impossible-to-miss blue and orange van has become a reminder to myself and to many others that there still is a lot of work to be done, and the fight is not over. Every day, people come up to me and say two things: “I can’t believe it didn’t pass” and “What’s next?”
My response usually begins with something like this: “Yes, we came so close to winning, but we needed more fighters on the front lines. We still do. Please join us.”
Reflecting on this historic battle, along with others who were in the trenches, I can see there were victories despite the loss and many lessons learned. Most importantly, while the battle of Prop. 37 may be over, the war to get GMO labeling and to take back our food system has just begun. It’s critical to build on the momentum from Prop. 37 and to take action—from asking Congress to keep pro-GMO riders out of the 2012 Farm Bill and offering support for other statewide and federal labeling initiatives, to joining up with consumer campaigns such as the newly-launched GMOinside.org and bringing change through the marketplace.
The Victories: Grassroots Empowerment and a National Awakening
While California’s Secretary of State has up until Dec 14 to count all the votes, the most recent tally for Prop. 37 is amazingly close, with 48.5 percent yes and 51.5 no; a difference of just a few percentage points. Some groups are even suggesting a recount.
No matter what, the fact that we came so close to winning says many things. First and foremost, it’s an amazing testament to the power of the grassroots movement that led Prop. 37. There are so many heroes in this fight—from the dedicated volunteers who donated their time, some working 20–60 hours a week for over a year, to many organizations and conscious, mission-driven businesses who reached out to their communities and dug deep into their pockets to donate funds to get the truth out.
Prop. 37 is proof that a group of dedicated, passionate people can stand up against greed, corruption, and blatant mistruths and hold its own. Despite a barrage of more than $46 million in propaganda from the world’s largest pesticide and junk food companies, more than 5.9 million Californians saw past the lies and voted yes.
Whether it was won or lost, California’s Prop. 37 also dramatically elevated awareness throughout the nation about the GMO issue in a way that has never been done before.
“Long before November 6, I knew that we had already won. When we launched this effort, most people in California and the US didn’t even know what a GMO was, and now because of Prop. 37’s outreach and media coverage, millions of people are paying attention to the issue,” says “head rabble-rouser” Pamm Larry, the grandmother from Chico who launched LabelGMOs.org and the Prop. 37 effort.
Currently, more than 30 states are working on GMO labeling efforts, and on the national level the attention from Prop. 37 has resulted in tens of thousands of people signing the petition to support Just Label It (JustLabelIt.org), the federal GMO labeling initiative.
Prop. 37 is also driving changes in the marketplace. “We now have empirical evidence that over 48 percent of Californians want the right to know if their food is genetically engineered,” adds Bob Meadow, political consultant for Prop. 37. “If you are a food manufacturer, you better start listening.”
And brands are indeed paying attention. During the month of October, the Non-GMO Project, which provides third-party non-GMO verification, saw inquiries almost double, and they have remained steady since the election. “This momentum is not going to go away,” says Megan Westgate, executive director. “People are waking up to the issue and demanding non-GMO. Now that they know about it, they aren’t going to let up—they’re going to keep voting with their wallets, and those votes are going to change the future of our food.”
The Big Lesson Learned: We Cannot Afford to Sit on the Sidelines
From a campaign standpoint, there are many lessons we can learn from Prop. 37: join forces with allies earlier, respond to the lies with truth sooner in the game, keep the ballot wording as simple as possible to avoid any confusion, etc.
All these are minor details, though, in comparison to the big picture lesson: if we want change, we are all going to have to work together to fight for it. Or as Prop 37’s fearless leader, Pamm Larry, says, “We won’t get labeling until enough people care enough to do enough.”
Several organizations were amazing warriors for our right to know, including One Percent for the Planet and American Sustainable Business Counsel, which hosted several webinars and reached out to its membership throughout the campaign. 1% for the Planet members Nature’s Path, Patagonia and Clif Bar also contributed significant funds the Right to Know campaign and several others were active on social media. However, many others sat on the sidelines.
The reality is that we are in a food fight against some of the biggest corporate giants in the world and we all need actively join the fight in some meaningful way if we want to get labeling and start creating a truly sustainable food system.
In an email, Trudy Bialic, one of the leaders of Washington’s I-522 GMO labeling initiative, said it best: “We need to think like street fighters and work as hard as farmers.” Put on your overalls and get ready to do some work, folks!
From politics to marketplace activism, there are several ways to get involved both as an individual or a company/organization.
The Political Route to Labeling
California has certainly not given up the fight and there are discussions about introducing a bill through the legislature and/or following up with another ballot initiative during the next election. Based on anomalies found by a group of independent statisticians, some are even suggesting that there may be cause for a recount, says Dave Murphy founder of Food Democracy Now and co-chair of the Prop. 37 campaign. To follow this issue, sign up for updates at www.fooddemocracynow.org.
A Coalition of States for GMO Labeling is also being formed. Out of the many state GMO labeling efforts, the one that probably needs the most support right now is Washington (LabelItWA.org), which is currently garnering signatures for its December 31, 2012, deadline. Like California, Washington could greatly benefit from the support of the rest of the nation, both through getting the word out but even more so through donations.
Support is needed immediately at the national level as well. With less than a month left before Congress is supposed to pass the 2012 Farm Bill, Just Label It and several others including Center for Food Safety (www.centerforfoodsafety.org), and Food Democracy Now are focused on making sure that several pro-GMO riders hidden deep within this bill don’t make it to the final draft. Together these riders would eliminate much of the USDA’s oversight, create backdoor approvals for GMO crops, and legalize levels of transgenic pollution.
The House could vote on this soon, so we need more Representatives on our side. In addition, Senator Daniel Inouye, Chair of the Appropriation Committee, is the key to blocking passage in the Senate. To speak out on the Farm Bill go to JustLabelIt.org or centerforfoodsafety.org and click on “Tell Congress: Dump Biotech Riders” which will send an email to 1) your Representative asking them to sign the “DeFazio letter” opposing the biotech rider, and 2) your Senator, asking him or her to tell Senator Inouye to stop the biotech rider.
In 2013, Just Label It’s focus will be on getting a response from FDA on the petition for federal GMO labeling which they submitted last March with over 1.1 million signatures.
“We’ve held our fire on the Obama administration during the election. Now it’s time to see some action,” says David Bancroft, executive director of JLI.
Since March, 200,000 signatures have been added, and when the total reaches 2 million, the petition will be resubmitted to the FDA. In the meantime, JLI will be working many angles to get the FDA to address this issue, including a reaching out to Congress and possibly even launching a lawsuit, adds Bancroft.
“We are 20 years behind in DC. In that time the biotech industry has spent over $580 million on lobbying.” says Gary Hirshberg, JLI’s chair and co-founder of Stonyfield Farm. “It might take some time, but we’re in it for the long haul.”
“To win this, it will take large numbers of voters, especially those in the middle class, contacting Washington and letting them know there are real people behind this issue,” Hirshberg says. “We also need some courageous companies who realize that it’s not a good long term strategy to be against the consumer to crossover and stand up for federal labeling. Lastly, we need a cadre of both democrat and republican Senators to indicate to the White House that they support labeling. But this is all doable. Politicians and companies are well aware that Prop 37 was polling 72 percent in favor, and that it took 46 million to shut it down. This should put them in a position to support federal labeling. The question is not if we will get labeling, it is when.”
To support federal labeling, go justlabelit.org and click on “Tell the FDA and Congress. Also click on “Partners” to join over 600 other companies and organizations who are fighting for Federal GMO Labeling.
Although working through the government to get labeling may be a slow process, we can start driving change in the marketplace right now.
This was the inspiration for “GMO Inside,” a new consumer activism and education project from Green America, the same organization that recently pushed Hershey’s to change its policies on child labor through Green America’s “Raise the Bar” campaign.
One key part of the project is to use stickers and shelf talkers at grocery stores to identify products that likely contain GMOs and then share images of these with the masses via social media. “If corporations won’t label GMOs, then we the people will” is the campaign’s rallying cry. GMO Inside is also aiming to get hundreds of thousands of consumers, or “GMO Insiders,” to do one big action a month and participate in “GMO Free Fridays.”
“The only way that corporations will change what they are doing is if it affects their market share, so consumers have to stop giving money to corporations that sell GMOs,” says John Roulac, CEO of Nutiva, and a founder and steering committee member of GMO Inside. Roulac says that GMO Inside is actively seeking other organizations and companies to help support this effort. In the short time since the election that the GMO inside Facebook page has been up, it’s already at over 13,000 “Likes.”
Lastly, look at ways you can your company or organization can reach out to your community. Be a social media activist—“Like” Just Label It, GMO Inside, Label GMOs, Non-GMO Project, Food Democracy Now, Center for Food Safety and other organizations that are fighting for our right to know, and share posts from these groups. Donate to groups that are fighting for our right to know and ask your members or consumers to donate and spread the word about GMO labeling initiatives.
If there is one thing we should all take away from Prop. 37, it is that we have the power to change the world for the better when we come together, work like hell, and raise our collective voice. While we all can’t hit the road and live in a VW camper, each person, company or organization can get involved in some way, so get off the sidelines and join the fight. We need you.
Kat Schuett is an international health and sustainability journalist, the former editor of Organic Processing magazine, and was an organic outreach partner for Yes on 37. You can reach her at email@example.com.
Posted on December 10th, 2012 by pauline
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