There are science-backed reasons to get involved in efforts we’re passionate about — research has found that helping others through generosity can make us happier and more financially successful. Businesses, too, can reap those benefits through social entrepreneurship, setting out to change the world through innovative thinking. These six social good companies are prioritizing the well-being of people and our planet in inspiringly creative ways.
TerraCycle’s “Loop” program aims to drastically transform the way we ship packages
Waste management company TerraCycle introduced the company’s new waste-free shopping platform, Loop, at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos in late January
“Loop will not just eliminate the idea of packaging waste, but greatly improve the product experience and the convenience in how we shop,” TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky said in a statement. “Through Loop, consumers can now responsibly consume products in specially-designed durable, reusable or fully recyclable packaging made from materials like alloys, glass and engineered plastics. When a consumer returns the packaging, it is refilled, or the content is reused or recycled through groundbreaking technology.”
Loop is teaming up with companies like Procter & Gamble, Unilever, PepsiCo, Nestle, and more to make this happen. While TerraCycle already helps organizations recycle materials in 21 countries, Loop’s pilot program is projected to begin in New York and Paris during spring 2019.
Goodr transports excess food to nonprofits, fighting food insecurity
This company delivers surplus food from “the businesses that have it to nonprofit organizations and people that need it,” all playing into their “feed more, waste less” mission.
Here’s what the process looks like in action: businesses give away their extra food and Goodr transfers it to nonprofits, a process that helps decrease greenhouse gas emissions and boost businesses’ “bottom line.” Goodr’s dashboard and mobile app also let the businesses keep an eye on the food they’ve donated, measure their community impact, and see their real time tax savings.
Goodr has been seeing large-scale results — the company says they have “rescued over 900,000 pounds of food,” totaling more than 800,000 “meals served and counting” since officially launching in 2017. They currently work with Turner Broadcasting Systems, MetLife Stadium, the NFL, and other major organizations.
“This food that is going to waste is so much more than just waste, it is power, it is change, it is treasure. It is the ability to feed a hungry child which could be the difference to that child learning in school and passing that test,” Goodr Founder and CEO Jasmine Crowe said during a 2017 TEDxPeachtree talk. “It’s allowing our seniors to never have to make a decision between paying for their prescriptions and paying for food. It’s seeing a reduction in crimes committed to feed one’s family. It’s lifting the financial burden off of people that are already living on the marginal poverty line. I believe that this food will give people hope in their darkest hour because this food is social change.”
Crowe had launched a Sunday Soul program in Atlanta in 2013, which later expanded to Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Baltimore, and has reportedly given more than 50,000 people food. When a video from one of the serving sessions went viral, commenters wanted to know which restaurants provided the meals, piquing Crowe’s interest in businesses’ excess food, and eventually leading to the establishment of Goodr.
The 7 Virtues fragrance company helps farmers in war-torn countries make a living
This Canadian company uses essential oils from countries “rebuilding after war or strife,” like Haiti, The Middle East, Rwanda and more, helping local farmers rebuild and succeed.
Founder and CEO Barb Stegemann told Fast Company in 2018 about how interest in her company’s product has grown since the initiative began. “Nine years ago, nobody knew what a social enterprise was,” she told the publication. “Now, I find that people get most excited when they hear that a product is helping people, in my case farmers in countries that are rebuilding.”
Farmers working for The 7 Virtues also reportedly “earn as much as 2.5 times the income of the next crop,” which gives them the money they need to construct homes and buy their kids’ school uniforms.
First Book provides children with millions of books to enrich their educational experiences
Working in more than 30 countries, this company has donated “more than 175 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low income communities,” and participated in the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2019. The company reportedly impacts an average of 5 million children yearly, and thousands of instructors affiliated with the group serve American children in need.
The head of the organization has offered some important advice about what it takes to start a transformational company. Kyle Zimmer, President and CEO of First Book, shared a powerful lesson she learned at the start of her career: “I thought I had to have all the answers myself. I don’t think I had the humility or the perspective to understand that that’s never the game, and that reaching out to as many brilliant minds as you can find is where the real strength is,” Zimmer told The New York Times in 2012. “When I started First Book, I was learning about the publishing industry from the ground up. But by that time, I had learned that it really didn’t matter if I knew anything. What mattered is whether I could get people to the table who did, because you’re never going to know enough.”
Bombas supplies socks to people who need them the most
This company donates a pair of socks for every pair purchased, and they’ve given away more than 15 million pairs so far. The socks they donate to “giving partners” are also different from the ones they sell — “an anti-microbial treatment ensures they don’t need to be washed as often, and reinforced seams and darker colors give them greater durability with less visible wear.” This essentially gives them the ability to weather different storms than the average sock.
“If we build a better pair of socks, we can sell more socks,” Bombas co-founder David Heath told The New York Times in 2016. “And if we sell more socks, we can donate more socks.”
Medic Mobile boosts healthcare services in remote areas
This global health nonprofit seeks to “improve health in the communities that are hardest to reach,” and provides critical software to aid this process. The Community Health Toolkit feature allows local health workers and volunteers to complete tasks such as entering data, treating people at their homes, monitoring the spread of illnesses more quickly, announcing emergencies, and more.
“By capitalizing on mobile connectivity, Medic Mobile has been able to improve healthcare for more than 8 million people in 23 countries in just 5 years,” TechCrunch reported in 2016.
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