Why I Joined 1% for the Planet

Listen, I know it’s perhaps debatable whether Earth Month is as real of a thing as Earth Day. But around here, we’re evidently treating it as such, since I’m coming to you with yet another post about the environment as April wraps up. In this final April environmental blog post, we’re talking all things 1% for the Planet, which I just became a member of this year. 


For those who’ve been on WTG recently, you may have seen the 1% for the Planet logo, or read about it in my latest post about outdoor brands that give back, since some of the brands are 1% for the Planet members. In fact, odds are that you’ve likely bought a product from a 1% for the Planet member.

So what is 1% for the Planet? Well as the website describes it, "1% for the Planet is a global network of businesses, nonprofits and individuals working together for a healthy planet.” As I see it, 1% for the Planet is a matchmaker between businesses that want to do good and give back to the environment and the very organizations that are actively doing good for the environment and helping conserve, protect, and provide solutions for it.  

It seems especially fitting that 1% for the Planet was started by Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, in 2002, and Craig Mathews of Blue Ribbon Flies. Patagonia arguably set the benchmark years ago for corporate, social, and environmental responsibility. I recently wrote about Patagonia’s commitment to the environment, which runs the gamut, from the Patagonia Action Works digital platform to Fair Trade Certified products to low-impact manufacturing materials to the Worn Wear repair and reuse program.

But what does it mean to be a 1% for the Planet member? As the name presumes, members commit to donating 1% of its annual sales to non-profit partners helping the environment, such as Surfrider, The Wilderness Society, Access Fund, Audubon Society, Jane Goodall Institute, American Hiking Society, Arbor Day Foundation, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Fairtrade Foundation, and more than a thousand others. What’s more, is that part of that 1% can be in the way of in-kind giving, volunteering, or advertising for 1% for the Planet and its members. Plus, at the end of the year, all of that giving is certified. Since 2002, 1% for the Planet members have given more than $175 Million dollars.

The reason this is important, as 1% for the Planet shares, is because only 3% of total philanthropy in America goes to the environment. And, it’s not exactly any secret that the environment doesn’t get the best political support and backing.


The reason that this is important to me is a personal one. I grew up in a very rural part of the south, where outdoor land was more in the way of horse ranches, dairy farms, and small fishing ponds, all of which I actually did grow up on. Yet I remember as a child, begging my mom to drive me to Cedarock Park, a nature preserve that was about the size of some people's farmland (very big farmland), just a few hundred acres. I'd take my little janky moutain bike up and down the few miles of trails, or hike up to the small waterfall over the old mill dam, or just sit on a grassy knoll while watching guys play disc golf on the 36-hole course.

camping cabins

A few years later, when I was 17, my parents and I upgraded from those little county and state park day trips to a road trip around America. In 3 weeks we covered 6,000 miles and nearly 25 states, visiting places like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Badlands, Custer State Park, and Mount Rushmore. You either return from a trip like that and never travel again, or you return and travel the rest of your life. I chose the latter, and now I live within a short bike ride of state parks and national recreation areas in Los Angeles.

The fact is that as long as I can remember, my life has been rooted in the outdoors. And I’m grateful to have had parents who exposed me to that, but also instilled in me the importance of giving back. We may have not had much, but there wasn’t a single check that my mom received that she didn’t give a tenth back to something. And if she wasn’t tithing, then she was volunteering locally. Therefore, it seems like a poor stewardship of my mom’s legacy and all the opportunities and access I’ve had, to not give at least something back.

So 1% for the Planet it is. What I perhaps love the most is how natural it already fits into my life and work. This year I’m choosing to give my 1% to the Surfrider Foundation and The Wilderness Society, two organizations I’ve long supported, and one of which, Surfrider, I’ve volunteered with. I believe these are among the organizations doing the most for our waters and lands that I’ve had such great access to. Plus, many of the places that I’ve written about and photographed are the very places that these organizations are helping protect.


No, this isn’t a sales pitch, and no one paid me to write this. However, I’d be remiss not to say that I firmly support those businesses and individuals (yes, individuals can join, too) who want to join 1% for the Planet. Simply put, this is just something that I’m passionate about and derive so much satisfaction from, knowing that at least a portion of what I make from every article I write, project I consult on, and flask & print I sell is giving back to the very places I’ve gotten to experience, write about, and photograph.

Finally, thanks to you readers and followers for being a part of this. I truly believe that this is just a continued extension of my brand and work that I’ve tried to build the last few years. If you want to learn more about the organizations I’m donating to, Surfrider or The Wilderness Society, you can read more, and also donate, at the websites below.