Posted on May 7th, 2013 by pauline
Breanne Quesnel, the owner of Spirit of the West Adventures, explains why they became members of 1% for the Planet….
From a selfish perspective, we all need healthy and functioning ecosystems for our own survival, to have clean water, air and food. As an eco-tourism business, our livelihood is also directly connected to beautiful wild places, open spaces and plentiful wildlife. We try our best to be a sustainable business and to consider the environment and the ramifications of our choices and actions in all that we do, but we also need to give back. We are able to generate revenue by sharing sea kayaking trips on the beautiful British Columbia coast with people from all over the world. We feel it is only right to direct some of that revenue back to organizations and groups that help to protect these wild spaces and wildlife.
We became 1% for the Planet members in order to help raise the profile of the need for all businesses to give back to the environment. While quietly donating to environmental charities gets money where it is needed, 1% for the Planet helps to encourage all businesses to share their success with environmental charities and highlights the fact that together we can make a greater impact. The brand recognition helps customers to make informed decisions, supporting companies who support the environment. I know when I see the 1% for the Planet logo at other shops or businesses, I feel better about purchasing their product or service. My dollar spend has the capacity for a greater positive environmental impact.
The mainstay of our business is providing tours which allow people to sea kayak with whales and a variety of other wildlife in wild and untouched spaces. It is for this reason that over the years as 1% for the Planet members we have chosen to donate to groups which help in protecting the marine environment, the food sources of the whales as well as our local community in which we operate our business. Past donation recipients have included (plus others who still need to apply to become 1% FTP approved nonprofit partners);
- Cetus Research and Conservation
- Save our Salmon
- The Wilderness Tourism Association of British Columbia
- West Coast Environmental Law
- The Sierra Club of BC
- Raincoast Conservation Foundation
- Quadra Island Salmon Enhancement
Donating 1% of all sales is a small contribution to a very worthy cause. I heard a great quote once which helps to sum it all up nicely, “The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of nature”.
Posted on April 23rd, 2013 by pauline
The following post was featured on Ascenta’s blog yesterday, in honor of Earth Day. We appreciate Ascenta’s continued support and for sharing their founder’s kind words with us- thanks for Loving Blue, Marc!
Established in June of 2003 the Ascenta story is nearing a decade. It seems like an appropriate stage of a company’s life cycle to reflect back on what you set out to accomplish and what you’ve achieved since. Being that it’s Earth Day this reflection is centered on Ascenta’s long term vision of sustainability and ecological prosperity.
Back in 2003 I have to admit that I had yet to fully define what my vision was for Ascenta. I naively followed my passion for natural health and a belief that we could transform lives with omega-3, the “missing” ingredient. After contemplating the broader meaning of health the story of Ascenta began to evolve. The goal of creating health became a goal of building prosperity and a notion that everything is interconnected.
As we began to shift our thinking we soon realised there were so many areas within our business that needed attention. The challenge was that we were still a relatively small growing company, resources were scarce, and seemingly never enough time to get everything done. The prospect of adding new tasks and a different way of thinking was a bit daunting.
This is typically the juncture where most companies adopt a “good enough” mentality and shift their primary focus towards fiscal responsibility. A good analogy would be a student graduating from university and excited to take on the world. As they take those first steps into a brave new world they quickly realise their goals and dreams don’t line up that well with how society defines success. You therefore let go of your dreams or at least give them a hard pruning.
Companies do the same thing. The thrill and excitement of a start-up company is undeniable. It’s a platform system for ideas and imagination. The socially oriented entrepreneur however will soon face the reality that the model you are trying to build does not yet exist thereby requiring you to become a pioneer and navigate uncharted waters. Adhering to your vision and values will be constantly challenged and you even risk alienating yourself. While loosening your grip on your original intentions can relieve some of the pressure this becomes a slippery slope and could ultimately compromise the vision.
All these challenges facing the social entrepreneur I have lived first hand and admit that I have made decisions in the past that were heavily influenced by internal and external pressures. In those cases I did what was expected of me, not what I wanted to do. The greatest gift for navigating through life is self awareness. It monitors in real-time the choices you make and its impact on your life. Ultimately it helps you identify when you make poor decisions and lets you learn and improve.
While many companies aspire to become sustainable the truth is that today there is no such thing as a sustainable company. Our current economy does not follow a cyclical flow. It’s a linear mathematical model that believes natural resources are inexhaustible and the planet has infinite storage capacity for waste and toxic debris. Therefore most of the resources a company requires to operate (power, construction materials, office supplies, electronics, etc) are scarcely available as fully eco-friendly alternatives.
While the vision is to be sustainable the process to get there is about reducing your ecological footprint. Making the best possible decisions based on ecological impact requires a solid understanding of the product or ingredient supply chain. One of the best examples I can highlight would be the garment and textile industry. While most would regard a simple t-shirt as having a relatively low ecological impact the reality is a very different story. The cotton for this t-shirt is grown in a field where heavy pesticides and herbicides are applied to the extent that no other life forms can be supported including other plants, insects, and wildlife. These chemicals eventually leach into the groundwater and are no longer localised.
Next the cotton is likely to be processed in a developing country where the factories discharge the toxic effluent from the dyes into the nearby river thereby impacting biological life over a vast geography. It should be noted that this practice also occurs in developed countries. Furthermore the employees in these factories work for unfair wages and statistically present with cancer rates 40x higher than the normal population. The matter of fact is that in business we often focus only on our own activities and discount the impact of the entire supply chain from which we depend. Supply chain management is probably the most challenging and time consuming aspect of the “sustainable” company.
It wasn’t until 2006 that we intently began examining the impact of our business beyond our own activities. Because the primary resource for our products is fish we needed to first and foremost better understand fisheries management. To help us do that we developed a relationship with a marine biologist working in the area of fisheries management and conservation. It’s a well known fact that our global fish supplies have been depleted by overfishing. It was therefore extremely important that we audit the fisheries we were sourcing from as well as audit any fishery we planned to source from in the future.
Greenwashing has become a very sophisticated practice in the world of commerce so applying scientific rigor to the process of supply chain management is critical. We witnessed this first hand in our assessment of the Antarctic krill industry. The story behind krill oil sounds too good to be true. Multiple internet sources promote it as being an almost inexhaustible resource and claim that it provides omega-3 with up to 10x the potency of omega-3 from fish. After conducting thorough research on this potential source the findings clearly indicated the krill fishery was a poor ecological choice at this time and the benefits of krill omega-3 over fish omega-3 were not significant. Today consumers pay upwards of 10x as much for krill oil vs. fish oil due to savvy marketing not scientific validation. Despite the potential for increased profits krill is not on our list of approved omega-3 sources.
As an entrepreneur one of my greatest mentors is Yvon Chouinard, founder of the outdoor apparel company Patagonia. In 2012 Yvon published the book entitled The Responsible Company. In this book he discusses the importance of supply chain management and coined the phrase “an examined life”. The process of examining your life, or business, means making conscious decisions about everything you do to ensure it aligns with your values and leads to the change you want to create in this world. Becoming a responsible company means understanding all the issues, researching all the viable options, and making decisions aligned with your values. This philosophy must be applied throughout your organisation.
How far is a company willing to go to push those boundaries and pioneer a path towards sustainability? For a company like Patagonia they will go as far as they possibly can. Yvon is considered one of the great social entrepreneurs of our era and has leveraged business success to create global change. He may even argue that the change he created was responsible for his business success. Either way the story of Patagonia is a North Star for companies like Ascenta.
While the story of Patagonia and The Responsible Company have contributed greatly to my beliefs Yvon’s greatest influence has been the result of an initiative he gave birth to in 2002. Discouraged by the amount of greenwashing and the continued degradation of the natural world Yvon, along with his good friend Craig Mathews, created 1% for the Planet. With a commitment to donate at least 1% of total sales to environmental non-profits 1% for the Planet companies represent a new level of environmental responsibility and transparency. Unlike most corporations where environmental giving is considered “charitable”, 1% for the Planet companies view it as a cost of doing business. Some refer to it as “keeping the Earth in business”.
Since its inception in 2002, the network of 1% for the Planet companies has grown to over 1000 companies worldwide, representing the largest source of environmental giving in the world having reached over $70 million in 2012. Back in 2007, I was exploring several ideas in an attempt to start closing the sustainability loop including establishing university grants for the purpose of funding research in ocean conservation. To my surprise the university board of directors turned down the idea citing concerns it may appear that the university was endorsing the company’s products. While this left me scratching my head I reminded myself that sometimes things happen for a reason.
Not long after, I was at home relaxing to a new CD by one of my favorite music artists Jack Johnson. While reading the back cover of the eco-friendly CD sleeve I noticed for the first time the 1% for the Planet logo. Jack Johnson has always been a point source of inspiration for me, so I decided to look further into this logo. That became the light bulb moment as if fate brought us together.
Philosophically everything about 1% for the Planet resonated and I was eager to present this idea internally at Ascenta. While there were natural hesitations around the financial risk of the commitment, we all decided this embodied our vision and values. Entrepreneurs and business leaders know that as a growing business there will be times when finances are constrained and years where profits will not be realized. The idea behind 1% for the Planet is that companies have an ecological impact regardless of their profitability therefore environmental giving should always be linked to sales not profits.
At Ascenta we see this as a long term investment in our future. Without healthy productive natural ecosystems there would be no business. Since joining this movement in 2007, Ascenta has donated over a half million dollars to environmental non-profits including the David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, Nova Scotia Nature Trust, Ecology Action Centre, and Heal the Bay. Being associated with 1% for the Planet has enriched our culture at Ascenta, increased our awareness of key environmental issues, and connected us with some of the most inspiring and dedicated people trying to build a better world for all of us.
While 1% for the Planet is our most significant endeavor thus far, continuing to apply the idea of leading an “examined life” has lead to other key initiatives. In the province of Nova Scotia we have been subjected to an archaic energy industry fed primarily by dirty coal. Nova Scotia Power Inc is consistently listed as one of the top greenhouse gas emitters in Canada and reluctant to move the region away from cheap fossil fuels.
Then came along Bullfrog Power, a green certified renewable energy provider founded by eco-entrepreneurs Tom Heintzman and Greg Kiessling. Established in 2004, this Canadian green energy start-up gradually expanded out from their Ontario roots and today bring green energy alternatives to commercial and residential customers from coast to coast. When green energy came knocking in Nova Scotia we were excited to sign up and take this critical next step along our path towards sustainability.
While it’s easy to overlook the small things, we know when you multiply small changes you can generate big results. Based on that we’ve implemented some things at Ascenta worth noting such as eco-transportation rebates for employees, eco-purchasing policies for food, office supplies, and electronics, community garbage sweeps, and eco-themed staff presentations. Last year Ascenta was recognised as one of Canada’s greenest workplaces.
The next big adventure for Ascenta will be a new facility slated for 2015. Building our new home is an exciting chance to ask ourselves “imagine if…?” While our imaginations may not represent what’s possible today, it will surely help us breakthrough the status quos and push the boundaries of what is possible.
As individuals as well as businesses, it’s important to remember that the brain and the heart have different reward systems. The brain’s reward system is primarily based on receiving while the heart’s reward system is primarily based on giving. Conventional businesses think with their brains. Socially oriented businesses think with their brains and act with their hearts.
On this Earth Day 2013 I want to express my deepest gratitude to the entire Ascenta team and to all our supporters. Without you none of this would be possible. We are excited about what’s to come and hope you come along for the journey.
If you want to be happy then chose to be happy. If you want to be successful then chose to be happy. If you want to make others happy then chose to be happy.
- Marc St. Onge
Posted on November 14th, 2012 by brodie
Last week we hosted a Special Edition Power Plant event celebrating the incredible growth in the 1% for the Planet family north of the border.
By the Numbers:
In just a year we’ve added 23 new members, who will donate an additional $700,000 to environmental causes this year alone. That brings us to more than $5M in giving to date from our Canadian partners. Boom. There’s a lot to be excited about.
In the last 12 months we’ve welcomed wonderful new member companies to the network, including Frogbox, Nature’s Path, and Salt Spring Coffee. They were joined at Power Plant by stalwart members Ascenta, MEC, Saul Good and Sunwolf and nonprofit partners like CPAWS, LOCO BC and West Coast Environmental Law.
The evening featured presentations from movers and shakers in the Canadian sustainability world who highlighted ways that business can be a part of the solution to pressing environmental challenges in Canada.
The night was chock full of great conversation, connections and good times; we left inspired by the Canadian team, knowing this is a group that will create enormous positive change for the planet.
Thanks to all who made it possible, keep up the great work, and we’ll see you in town again soon!
And if you couldn’t make it, check out our speakers in action at these links!
Melody Badgett (1% for the Planet)
Michael Ableman (SOLEfood Farms)
Kris Holm (1% Ambassador and Mountain Unicyclist)
Posted on October 8th, 2012 by pauline
Meet FROGBOX- a Canadian based member who has changed the game of moving. In their first year of membership with 1% for the Planet, they have already chose a number of approved non-profits to support, including the Vancouver Aquarium and organizations that support frog habitat restoration. The following post was written by Mathieson McCrae (a huge fan of 1% FTP and Yvon), and I am happy that he shared it with us! Read on to learn more about this innovative business!
People move. Once every five years, on average, we gather every single thing we own and we pack it up, transport it and unpack it somewhere else, making home in a new place. The status quo as you read this, is to do all that packing and transporting with cardboard boxes. Whether you find them behind a liquor store or buy them brand new, it’s a disposable paper product, that sooner, rather than later, ends up as waste. (Yes yes, they can be recycled, but just wait, it’s not so simple. We’ll address this directly in a future post.)
FROGBOX is the new alternative. We take sturdy, stackable plastic boxes and rent them out in whichever quantity and for whatever duration is required to make the move. So what’s the difference? It’s simple: reuse. We offer a product that can be used 400 times. Cardboard averages just less than two uses, and is virtually useless after 5 or, at best, 10 times around the block. But hey, it’s also obvious that plastic requires way more energy to produce than a good old flimsy cardboard job. Bingo, 100% correct. It takes approximately 8x more energy to produce a FROGBOX than it would to produce a cardboard box of equivalent capacity.
What that number means is that once we rent out a FROGBOX eight times, every additional use does not require the input of additional material resources. There’s 392 uses left to go and 392 cardboard boxes that don’t need to be made. So to be clear, we’re not saying everyone should buy FROGBOX moving boxes (FROGBOXes) and keep their own in their garage. They may reuse them a few times, but that would have a higher impact than owning some cardboard. The idea is that we take a durable product and facilitate its shared use as moving boxes by the community at large.
So what’s the actual impact of cardboard? And what do we save by using FROGBOX moving boxes? We’ll talk about what we’ve done so far in the last three years, but we’ll also visualize the bigger picture too, what impact we will have when FROGBOX becomes status quo.
So far, the FROGBOX moving boxes currently in circulation have been used over 250,000 times. This means 223 Metric Tonnes of cardboard were not used. And 587 MTCE (Metric Tonnes Carbon Equivalent) avoided in waste and production. (We’ll save this for a later post, but not to be overlooked!) The tape that holds those boxes together accounts for an uncertain but more toxic portion of the footprint of the box and cannot be recycled. Assuming 5 ft of tape per cardboard box means using FROGBOXes has saved 1.25 million feet of tape thus far.
And so what does that 587 MTCE (CO2) number mean?
- -It’s equivalent to one car driving 1,920,000 kilometers (which is five one way trips to the moon [or two and a half round trips, but that leaves you stuck on the moon, and also, what road are you driving on?])
- -Which is the same as 60 cars doing 32,000 kilometers.
- -Or 190 individual people not flying to New York from Vancouver (planes use a lot of fuel).
- -Or powering 73 average North American homes for a whole year!
Small potatoes? Yeah, we’re not the big fry yet, but so that’s where things look interesting. 55 million people move every year in the USA and Canada and that means 1.9 billion boxes and as much as 271,662 MTCE assuming all cardboard boxes are actually used twice (another future post in the works here).
And just to toot the horn: let’s mention that FROGBOX moving boxes are strong, sport a waterproof tub design (lids attached!), have handles and don’t need to be taped together or broken down when you’re done. Which all, ahem, saves you time. Time is still important too, right?
A huge thanks goes to FROGBOX for sending us this blog post, and we hope you consider supporting them during your next move!