It was with no small amount of relief, and just a bit of pride, that I received an email from One Tree Planted stating that they had received the Nonprofit Changemaker of 2019 Award from the respected and, and at least I think, more universally recognized organization, 1% For The Planet.
1% For The Planet was co-founded by Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, the godfather of mixing business and pleasure and the environment. You can read more about his business philosophy in his book Let My People Go Surfing, but I think the title just about says it all. Obviously his star power in the business and environmental worlds draws the best and brightest, and if they think that One Tree Planted is doing a good job, well then that’s a pretty strong endorsement.
Choosing the right organization to support the environmental goals of Twin Fin Coffee was something that I labored with from the beginning and continue to stress about. I did a ton of research and talked endlessly to friends, entrepreneurs, and creatives I respected. It was critical to find a partner who could fulfill the promises that we were making to our customers and community to make a difference with the dollars they are entrusting to us, and to get it right the first time.
Of course, I considered whether to just join 1% For The Planet, and still might, but I was looking for something that would have a more tangible and outsized impact right off the bat. After all, 1% o a $15 bag of coffee is 15 cents. And 15 cents to an organization that fits our philosophy like Surfrider Foundation or something just seemed to small and abstract. Sure small amounts add up, and that’s what 1% for the Planet is all about, but I needed something that I could wrap my head around right now, the kind of thing that you can explain to a 9 year old and they get it right away.
That’s the kind of message and impact One Tree Planted has allowed for us to promote and support. One bag of coffee = one tree in the region where the coffee originated, the same regions you love to visit and surf and connect with. The kind of message my kids can understand innately.
I didn’t want to backtrack or change my mind or have to change the message in a month or a year because things weren’t going as hoped or planned. But I had never done this before. I had never set up, or even worked for, a company that had a social mission embedded in its DNA from very inception.
Save the whales. Save the fish. Stop the plastic. Clean the water. End the pollution.
Obviously there are thousands of potential partners to help accomplish this goal, but not all are equally set up for a small business like ours to scale the resources we can offer while at the same time presenting a clear message about what we get for our contributions.
One dollar plants one tree.
OneTreePlanted.org offered the best solution we could find in a partner. Their scale allows for the most effective use of each dollar contributed that we could find and organizationally they were set up to solve the exact problem we were finding with other nonprofits. They were set up from the beginning to make it as easy as possible for companies, small as well as large, to partner with them. They cleared all of the hurdles.
This product plants one tree.
This simple message. This simple and straightforward contribution. This simple promise is what we offer.
Now, why trees.
After I found One Tree Planted, I was excited to share this with some trusted friends to see what they thought. I had fallen in love with the idea, but needed to make sure I was looking at all the angles. Of course, the first thing people asked was why I wasn’t connecting with a group that was more ocean-centric, something that had a more clear, linear link to the surfing community.
The reality was that I looked, but couldn’t find a group that had been developed specifically with the scale and ease to support small businesses like Twin Fin Coffee. There were plenty of options for donating to their cause of course, but nothing with the tangible value of your dollar so clearly outlined. One dollar, one product, one tree. Also, the more I became engrossed in the science and economics of where a dollar committed to impacting the environment was most successfully leveraged, there was plenty of evidence to be found that planting trees was dollar for dollar one of the most impactful things we could do with our money.
And that tree planting had direct effects on water quality, sea life, and rising temperatures affecting coral reefs. The ocean needs the trees, and so thats the leap we hope our community is willing to make with us.
Here is an amazing resource that One Tree Planted has made explaining one instance where trees and oceanic life are closely connected. One of their projects, in the Pacific Northwest of the US, is specifically geared to saving endangered orcas by planting trees. This video highlights the science behind this connection, and I hope you’ll take a look because the connections here are the same ones we’re looking to make around the world with the projects we have chosen to support – the ones in Central America, Indonesia, the Amazon – where our coffee comes from and we love to surf.
Today my mind is a bit more at ease that we are doing the right thing, pointing in the right direction, doing the simple things that my kids think are cool and understand, to make a small difference. And if we have to give 6.5% for the planet, then that’s fine with me.
Thanks for all of the support and trust.