Patagonia's Worn Wear program eliminates waste; they travel the world fixing garments for free to save you buying more. Patagonia photo.
Patagonia isn’t your average clothing company. For one, it defies the odds by appealing to everyone from techies and Southern belles to skiers and surfers — heck, even the dim sum lady down the street sports it — and two, it prioritizes responsible manufacturing practices, emphasizing environmental preservation.
Holla to Patagonia for donating 1% minimum of their sales to global grassroots environmental groups! And don’t even get me started on their Worn Wear program. How awesome is it that Patagonia sets free a team of skilled repair technicians to travel worldwide mending folk’s beaten-up clothing so they need not buy more? That’s just the beginning of the stoke.
But Patagonia’s not the only company that deserves high fives for supporting worthy causes. Let’s give a nod to responsible and charitable retailers flying under the radar: K2, Combat Flip Flops, Ruffwear, Corbeaux, United by Blue, Vapur, Superfeet, and Balega. Sure, these companies’ products are a tad pricier, but those extra dollars invest in sustainability, the environment, and the needy. And that’s priceless.
K2's Donations Keep Breast Cancer and Climate Change at
Senator Max Baucus meets with POW to discuss the fight against climate change. Protect Our Winters photo.
K2 does things a little differently; instead of making sales-based donations, they give the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), Protect Our Winters (POW), and several charities helping those with disabilities enjoy the outdoors between $50-150,000 per year.
The K2 Ski Alliance — a group of female ski and snowboard athletes working with the company to promote women in winter sports — recently put smiles on many faces when they donated upwards of $1.1 million to the BCRF. Bet those K2 skis you’re drooling over seem even more delicious now, eh?
Combat Flip Flops Promotes "Business, Not Bullets"
Combat Flip Flop's proceeds help enroll Afghan girls in secondary school. Combat Flip Flops photo.
Now here’s a nice story. Griff and Lee, Army Rangers with several Afghanistan tours behind them, started Combat Flip Flops to promote “Business, Not Bullets,” the idea being that mindful consumers can manufacture peace through trade. How? It’s really quite simple. Moreover, it’s awesome: they redesigned USA-made claymore bags to carry iPads and laptops instead of mines, they employ local women in Afghanistan to make sarongs (each taking three days!) to be sold at a price that puts an Afghan girl into secondary school for a week, and they get artisans in Laos to transform bombs into bangles and coin wraps (a conversation starter if ever there was one), and each sold clears three square meters of explosive remnants of war.
Here’s something good to chew on: In just three months, Combat Flip Flops has made enough to enroll 50 Afghan girls in school for one year, and clear 2,500 square meters of land mines. Booyah.
Ruffwear Will Pay Adoption AND Travel Fees For An Adopted Dog
Ruffwear partner with Best Friends Animal Society to pair active dogs with active people. Ruffwear photo.
Ruffwear is nailing it, combining dogs, the passion for outdoor pursuits, and partnerships for change to better the lives of animals. The cost of dog goodies can add up painfully, but your wallet’s less likely to grumble when it’s simultaneously promoting animal welfare and protecting open lands and waterways to provide undamaged habitat for wildlife, as well as stellar places for humans and canine companions to romp.
But perhaps best of all is Ruffwear’s Best Friends Animal Society partnership. With Best Friends, Ruffwear matches homeless, high-energy, outdoor-loving dogs with high-energy, outdoor-loving people. To boot, the company pays all adoption and travel expenses. Pardon me while I polish Ruffwear’s halo.
Corbeaux Takes Donated Clothes To Needy Mountain Towns Worldwide
Corbeaux make stylish, eco-friendly baselayers. They'll also send you SWAG when you donate your gently-used performance gear.
Corbeaux, a small rugged and stylish baselayer company based in Aspen, Colorado emphasizes making its products on home turf, and out of environmentally-conscious fabrics. The husband and wife team are sponsored skiers and mountaineers, meaning they get what makes functional performance gear.
But that’s just the start. Co-founders Darcy Conover and Adam Moszynski also have a program whereby you can send them your gently-used and clean outdoor clothing that they’ll distribute to guide and porter communities in developing mountain cultures. Your reward? Corbeaux schwag! It's a win-win.
United by Blue Takes Your Money... and Puts it Where the Fish are
With each product sold, UBB employees spend time fishing trash out of oceans and waterways. UBB photo.
United by Blue (UBB) has one main premise: each sale must produce a concrete environmental action. And before you scoff, it’s not bananas. UBB’s success is proof. How? Every time they sell a product, UBB removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways. How do they do that? They man up and hold company cleanups. Believe it or not, environmental contributions can be super simple, not to mention effective. Since 2013, UBB have fished out a whopping 267,000 pounds of trash.
Superfeet is More than Insoles – It's Foot Hygiene for the Homeless too
Superfeet partner with Our Hearts to Your Soles to fit the homeless with life-changing insoles. Our Hearts to Your Soles photo.
Insole-wizard Superset, who make insoles for everything from ski boots to stilettos, have been around for nearly four decades, but the company recently refined its giving with a 1% give-back initiative, a number it hopes to soon increase to 5%, or more. Most take foot health for granted, but Superfeet understands the importance of both foot support and hygiene.
In turn, they’ve partnered with Our Hearts to Your Soles, an organization that fits homeless people in cities all over America with new shoes and custom insoles.
According to Superfeet’s Director of Outreach, the company hopes to, “change a life in a positive way with everything we do.” And that they do.
Balega Socks Bought a Wheelchair-Friendly School Bus with Your Help
Balega socks makes the Ethembeni students' day when they drop off a check that will help them acquire disabled-friendly equipment. Balega photo.
Who would have thought buying running socks could help someone homeless regain their footing in society? Well, running sock company Balega does just this, and more.
Balega’s socks are largely inspired by South African communities and its runners. While the company strives to produce a product enabling runners to perform at their personal peak, they also have their eye set on helping the needy.
Balega’s Lesedi Project (lesedi means “light” and “enlightenment” in Tsawa, a South African dialect) has helped the Ethembeni school for severely disabled and disadvantaged children gain a wheelchair-friendly school bus, therapy playground (swimming pool included), and 12 annual scholarships.
Closer to home, for every pair of socks sold, the company donates $0.50 to the Veterans in Need Fund, and for every pair of limited-edition breast cancer awareness socks sold, they donate $1 to the Breast Cancer Fund.
From The Column: The Goods
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