Purchasing with Purpose

Purchasing with Purpose

Changing the world—one pint of ice cream at a time.

Each year in the United States, individuals and corporations give somewhere around $400 billion to charitable causes, ranging from arts organizations to social services to religious organizations. For the ordinary person, that number seems staggering. But, according to CBS News, that represents only a small fraction—2%—of the Gross Domestic Product of the nation.

As we look around the world today, we do see ways that money has impacted the daily lives of people in our community. There are theaters where there were once abandoned warehouses, initiatives like Housing First have dramatically reduced the number of people who are living on the streets long-term, and the list goes on. But while progress has been made, the problems that remain can seem overwhelming.

While charitable giving has received increased attention in the last decade, especially with advances in communication technology, the amount Americans give has stayed relatively stagnant. Americans even report giving around 2% of their income to charity—a strange parallel to the economy as a whole.

But you care about the world around you. So how do we have a greater impact? How do we do more with our money, make a bigger difference?

Americans give roughly 2% of the nation’s GDP to charity each year. The nation as a whole produces over $19 trillion in one calendar year according to the World Bank. What if there was a way to harness even just a fraction more of that incredible amount of production to combat the deepest issues our society faces?

$400,000,000,000 yearly

Many people would love to give more to charity, but don’t have the means to donate more money out of their pocket. So how do we give more without having to give more? The answer—using our spending to make a difference.

If the average person spends $5,400 on impulse buys each year, that is an additional $5,400 that you can leverage to impact the world around them. By spending your money at companies that give back to the community, you are able to give back and get the things you need and want. One example is Warby Parker, the eyeglass store, who donates a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair sold. In the business world, Salesforce is committed to its 1-1-1 model, donating 1% of profits, 1% of employee time, and 1% of its product to charity. Or, if you happen to be walking down the freezer aisle in your grocery store, consider buying a tub of Ben&Jerry’s ice cream—the company awards more than $1.8 million a year to fund community action and change. Eating more ice cream is the kind of social investment most of us can get behind.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when we look at the deep struggles the world around us faces. What can one person do in the face of such large-scale issues? Rather than giving in to despair or apathy, we can find ways to use something as commonplace as our shopping trip to invest in making a change. Together, we can help provide economic opportunity to those who are poor. We can bring those who are homeless into housing. We can protect our environment for future generations.

Together, we can change the world—one pint of ice cream at a time.

| Written by Benjamin Hoekstra

| Visuals by Billion Back Records, The World Bank

Has links to include!

Good Corporations

These few forward-thinking companies are at the forefront of a new wave of environmentally aware corporations and business management. They still have a long way to go, and we should encourage their greener future developments.

Good Corporations with Active and Appropriate Environmental Policies

Good Corporations

These few forward-thinking companies are at the forefront of a new wave of environmentally aware corporations and business management. They still have a long way to go, and we should encourage their greener future developments.

Corporations once considered only their profits. Politicians and business leaders talked about environmental sustainability, but most companies did not care. At least, they did until recently. While the old corporate business stereotypes still exist, many companies now use their business intelligence for more than just their bottom line.

This does not mean that all corporations are now completely eco-friendly. There is still more work to do. Many companies continue to deplete natural resources at an alarming rate. We need to give them a clear and viable roadmap while encouraging their green sustainability efforts.

However, to do this we must know who to support. To get us started here are a few of the “good” corporations out there.


  • George Lucas Family Foundation

    or 4% total assets
  • Publix Super Markets Charities

    or 3% total assets
  • Goldman Sachs Foundation

    or 2% total assets
  • Alcoa Foundation

    or 2% total assets
  • The Grainger Foundation Inc.

    or 2% total assets

Good Corporations

Ford Motor Company

The automobile industry is among the heaviest polluters, but at least we can trust the environment with Ford. Ford had a ten-part environmental policy in place for years. They even recycle their paint fumes as fuel for their fuel-efficient, six-speed transmission systems.

Good Corporations

Walt Disney

Disney is currently trying to reduce its direct greenhouse gas emissions down to zero. They even have a zero-waste policy at all of their facilities. Nothing they produce will ever end up in landfills, making them a leader in environmental responsibility.

Good Corporations

Fisher Investments

Fisher Investments’ Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative works to preserve California’s native Redwood forests. It does this by reducing emissions and gasses that threaten them. They have an unvarying commitment to reducing their environmental footprint.

Good Corporations


One of the first companies with a public environmental sustainability policy, Hewlett Packard aims to reduce their overall greenhouse emissions and toxic manufacturing waste with an aggressive recycling program. HP is also a leader in environmental advocacy and spreading the word about the benefits of green initiatives throughout the world.

Good Corporations

Johnson and Johnson

The Johnson and Johnson Company has spent the past 20 years making environmentally responsible personal care products. They already own a fleet of hybrid vehicles and are looking to reduce their overall waste.

Good Corporations


Nike’s green initiatives maybe one of the more noticeable ones. They highlight them directly through their advertising. They made it their mission to produce sustainable products with only environment-friendly materials and processes. Nike even takes part in the global advocacy for environmental policies for both industry and governments.

Good Corporations


EBay Eco-Initiatives is eBay’s subsidiary devoted to developing environmental sustainability. The site lets users sell and buy reused goods instead of throwing them away.

Good Corporations


Embracing environmental sustainability across the board, Starbucks only sells Fair Trade Certified and Certified organic coffee. Every new outlet must also have LED certification and be “green” before corporate will let them open their doors.

Good Corporations


Google is always on the forefront of new technologies, and their eco-business innovator is no different. They are the leader in embracing “green” business through green supply chain management and sustainability.

These few forward-thinking companies are at the forefront of a new wave of environmentally aware corporations and business management. They still have a long way to go, and we should encourage their future greener developments so that we can all become more efficient and greener over time.

| Written by Robert Stukowski