Generous Living and Giving
Lately it seems that every time I open my wallet, I open myself to an opportunity to enjoy a personal acquisition with a “do-good” moment. Do the two really go hand in hand? Is it possible to consume for self and not just feel, but truly do good, for others?
Here’s a few ways I’ve recently seen brands put this act of doing good into practice:
- Buy one give one
- Give back and replenish
- Change industry practices
1. Buy one give one
This is really the “sharing is caring” model. So now, every season can be the season for giving with brands in comfortable footwear, wine enjoyment, and literary pursuit.
Tom’s (http://www.toms.com/) is the poster child of this model with its One for One™ program. It gives a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of Tom’s shoes purchased. flipflop wines (http://www.flipflopwines.com/) also gives away a pair of shoes through Soles4Souls to someone in need for every bottle of wine purchased.
Better World Books (www.betterworldbooks.com), a socially responsible alternative to Amazon.com, lets me catch up on a good read and nurture my own love for words but also support children’s literacy by providing a book to a child in need with every book purchased through BWB.
2. Give back and replenish
Brands are finding opportunities to give back and enrich the source of giving to ensure there will always be ample sources to tap into for sustainable creation of its goods.
JadeYoga Mats (http://www.jadeyoga.com/) are PVC free, made from sustainable natural rubber, and Jade plants a tree for every purchase made. Now getting healthy and staying in shape not only comes with an environment-friendly benefit, but provides an opportunity to put something back into the earth.
Water is another hot topic as global warming continues to threaten and diminish potable water sources. Now great tasting joe is made by a non-profit coffee company that donates 100% of its proceeds to water projects in Uganda. Three Avocados (www.threeavocados.org) is 100% Arabica coffee grown on the mountains of Uganda, where some of the best coffee beans in the world are grown.
3. Change industry practices
Lastly, a few apparel brands are making the bold move of rethinking and changing their industry practices.
Oliberte Footwear (http://www.oliberte.com/) provides premum urban casual footwear. Instead of going to a low-cost option like China, Oliberte produces their shoes with quality materials sourced in Africa (with current operations in Ethiopia, Liberia and Kenya with plans to expand to other countries). Partner factories are selected based on its “play fair” factor: respect and equity in the workplace for men and women, local labor standards and worker benefits like subsidized or free lunches, and job security for women on maternity leave.
Without donating or giving anything away, Oliberte conducts fair labor practices in Africa to help grow each country sustainably by developing its middle class to drive economic growth and success.
Levi’s, on the other hand, figured out that a typical pair of jeans consumes 919 gallons of water during its entire life cyle — irrigating the cotton crop, manufacturing, and general at-home washing. Its new Water<Less Levi promotes water conservation with stone washed denim smoothed by rocks, not water, and advises consumers to wash less and with cold water.
The company also adopted a new farming technique in India called drip irrigation which removes the dependence for electricity and uses 70% less water. It yields what Levi refers to as “better cotton” which has been currently incorporated into 5% of its two million pairs of jeans with plans to increase that number to 20% by 2015.
While driven as much by environmental responsibility as it was by the pragmatic cost of making cotton, change on this scale has deep, profound impact that can enhance brand distinctiveness. More importantly, it can also inspire consumers to be a part of the kind of change they may not be able to tackle as an individual, but which is entirely possible partnering with the shear scale and power of their favorite brands.
So whatever the model of giving, who wouldn’t love the idea of living and giving generously, in a way that supports more purposeful, thoughtful consumption?
Author : Cindy Hsiao
Date : 20-10-11
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