For most of 2020, the world has been quarantined and the majority of societies have been shut down. The safest access to the outside world many have is through the internet. For those looking to shop with a purpose, listed below are four socially responsible companies that have focused their efforts on COVID-19 and its impacts.
Allbirds Shoe Company
A socially responsible shoe company always committed to the environment, Allbirds had already committed to going carbon neutral in 2019. The company makes a pointed effort to use low carbon materials to lessen its carbon footprint. Allbirds’ shoes are created with a natural design that completely outshines the synthetic, cheaper options. Allbirds is a certified B Corp company. It uses 90% “post-consumer recycled cardboard” for its shoeboxes. It works with Soles4Souls to donate all lightly used products to those most in need around the world.
In the era of COVID-19, Allbirds has “donated $500,000 worth of shoes” to first responders and is continuing to do so as consumers purchase products. Consumers can also buy a pair of shoes as a donation to send to a first responder.
Cotopaxi Adventure Brand
An adventure brand, this certified B Corp company is socially responsible in every step of production. Products are made from recycled materials. Additionally, Cotopaxi dedicates 1% of its revenue towards the Cotopaxi grant program, which are awarded to non-profits focusing on addressing poverty. So far, it has awarded 42 grants spread across six countries. In 2019, the Cotopaxi Foundation donated more than $300,000 to partners focused on reducing poverty and provided Latin American and Ecuador with more than 5,000 malaria-preventing bed nets. Furthermore, it distributed 200 emergency kits to families along the American-Mexican border and provided digital literacy education to around 80 refugee families.
During the pandemic, the company had to close all its stores, and consequently, saw online sales drop significantly. In order to revive sales within the company, Cotopaxi gave back to its local community. It began by partnering with an emergency and survival kit vendor, Uncharted Supply. Cotopaxi had surplus resources without high demand, and Uncharted Supply had a high demand without the resources to fill orders. The partnership was able to fulfill the needs of both companies. Cotopaxi also began producing apparel with the phrase “#OneUtah,” a rallying cry on social media in the state. The profits went towards Utah’s COVID-19 relief efforts. Cotopaxi’s response to COVID-19, while different from its main mission, helped the company to restore the brand and regain sales. As a result, it was able to continue its mission of alleviating the effects of global poverty.
Alex and Ani
Lifestyle and jewelry brand Alex and Ani works to leave a positive mark on the planet. The brand accomplishes this through its Charity By Design division. It partnered with UNICEF USA to donate 20% of its profits from the Charity by Design collection to children in need. This a collection of charms, bracelets and necklaces represents UNICEF’s work. The company’s philanthropic mission has continued during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alex and Ani are donating 10% of the Frontline Collection profits to all frontline workers between June 12 and August 12, 2020.
A popular eyewear company, Warby Parker is known for leading the way for socially responsible companies with its “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program. The mission focuses on providing eyewear to those around the world who “need glasses but have no access to them.” The company estimates that there are around 2.5 billion people in need of eyewear. Of that number, difficulties with their vision set back at least 624 million people in their education and work. Warby Parker partners with groups across the globe, distributing a pair of glasses in need for every pair purchased. Warby Parker has donated more than four million pairs of glasses to date.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has forced Warby Parker to adapt and change its program as its partners across the world are unable to safely deliver during the pandemic. In place of the “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program, Warby Parker has donated personal protective equipment “to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, Johns Hopkins Hospital, NYU Langone Health and the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.” Shifting its efforts to help public health has helped Warby Parker to continue charitable efforts without compromising the safety of its global partners.
Shopping at socially responsible companies is a simple way to give back. Doing so at such a challenging time in the world makes it especially important. Finding companies that are not only socially responsible in normal circumstances but that have adapted in the face of COVID-19 to help are the best places to shop right now. Shopping at these companies is one of the best ways to give back in a safe yet impactful way.
– Olivia Fish