Browsing Tag

volunteer

The Uncommon Life

Help City Harvest Feed NYC After Sandy

November 13, 2012

We have been proud to work with City Harvest through our Better To Give program, donating on our customer’s behalf to an organization that helps feed New York’s hungry. The amount of people living in New York City who are considered Food Insecure is about 1.2 million (source), and that number has increased since Sandy has left many without electricity and some without homes.

City Harvest is working hard to support Hurricane Sandy victims while continuing to feed the hungry men, women and children who rely on it every day. In addition to daily deliveries to soup kitchens and food pantries across the five boroughs, City Harvest is making emergency food drop-offs in especially hard hit areas in Staten Island, Coney Island and Red Hook in Brooklyn, and Breezy Point and Rockaway in Queens.

Since the storm, City Harvest has been accepting donations of non-perishable food from citizens and prepared foods from partnering restaurants across the city. They have rented additional trucks and hired additional temporary staff to keep food moving to where it is needed most. In the week following the storm, City Harvest delivered over a million pounds of food from their Long Island City, Queens location to emergency food partners across the city – the most ever for City Harvest in a week.

Want to get involved?

  • If you’re in the NYC area, you can volunteer with City Harvest to sort and deliver food.
  • Purchase the Plate With Purpose. UncommonGoods will donate $25 for each plate sold to City Harvest.
  • Choose City Harvest at check out and UncommonGoods will donate $1 from your purchase to help feed NYC’s hungry.

photos courtesy of City Harvest

 

The Uncommon Life

B Corp Status Renewed: The Mission to be a Responsible and Sustainable Business

August 8, 2012


When you think UncommonGoods you probably think unique, creatively designed and, well, uncommon products. Perhaps UncommonGoods is even your go-to place for gifts for those hard-to-buy-for family and friends and maybe even the place to gift yourself (don’t we all do that occasionally).

What you may not know is that UncommonGoods is voluntarily meeting higher standards of social and environmental performance through the B Corporation certification. The B Impact Assessment, conducted by the non-profit organization B Lab, aims to look beyond the marketing efforts of a company to assess the true impact of a business on their workers, community, and the environment.

Earlier this year, I led the effort to recertify UncommonGoods as a B Corporation, working with cross-departmental team members to assess how we’re doing. A founding member of B Corp, we’ve now reached our third term and our score of 91.3 shows that we are committed to upholding a higher standard when it comes to our stakeholders, including the environment, our employees, and the community.

(source, B Corp)

Our founder David Bolotsky has been making a continuous and strong effort in running a sustainable business ever since the company was founded in 1999. We are passionate about changing the way business is conducted by making sustainability a part of every decision we make. An important focus is to have a positive impact, not only in our own work place but in the world at large. For example, some benefits available to employees are that 80% of health insurance premiums are paid by UG (50% for families), whenever feasible alternate work schedules like part-time, flex-time or telecommuting are an option, there is a health and wellness program in place, including offering fresh organic fruit in the break rooms and incentives are given to encourage low-impact commutes to and from work.

Dave speaking to fellow NY B Corps.

A positive impact also means offering our customers creative and exciting merchandise that is built to last and made without harm to humans and animals; giving talented artists and designers a platform to sell their unique and often handmade product on a larger scale; making truthful and substantiated claims around all our products and avoiding the pitfalls of green-washing; and making smart packaging decisions when we ship the goods out to our customers and their friends and families.

(source, B Corp)

While not always an option in every product category, we prefer to work with local, sustainable, and fair trade suppliers. As a matter of fact, 14% of sales last year was generated with local and independent suppliers alone, ‘local’ meaning suppliers within a 200 mile radius. About half of our sales came from items made in the US, a little over a third from handmade products and about a fifth from products made of recycled content.

Being an internet and catalog retailer, we understand that producing a catalog uses the earth’s resources. Our goal is to minimize that impact by shifting more business online, limiting how many catalogs we mail, and continuing to print our catalogs on either recycled paper or paper sourced from FSC certified forests.

We love to give back to the environment and the community whenever we can. In 2011, we helped plant hundreds of trees (1,400 to be exact!) in Marine Bay Park as part of the MillionTreesNYC initiative. After over a year of tenacious persuasion tactics we also convinced city officials to make the landscape more appealing by planting street trees around Brooklyn Army Terminal (our offices) and we are volunteering our time and resources to help keep them in good health. I’m happy to report that so far they look quite happy!

Planting with MillionTreesNYC

Beautifying tree beds in and around Brooklyn Army Terminal.

Through the Better To Give program, UncommonGoods supports the mission of local and national non-profits. The Better To Give program gives our customers the opportunity to have UncommonGoods contribute to a non-profit organization each time they shop with us. Also, a portion of the sales of our Plates with Purpose, the Be The Change Paperweight and the Pelican and Sandpiper Nightlights is donated to non-profit partners – each item listing tells our customers exactly how much is donated and which organization it’s donated to. Last year we donated about $120K through our Better To Give program as well as $75K in product donations!

Our products that are making a difference.

On an ongoing basis, employees from all areas of our company are given the opportunity to discuss how we can make UncommonGoods more environmentally friendly, socially responsible and an ever-more rewarding place to work. Our four company goals serve as our guiding principles to be a responsible company; these goals are to be a great place to work, to be our customer’s favorite place to shop, to have a positive impact on the outside world, and to produce strong financial results.

Some members of the Certified B Corp community in front of Independence Hall in Philly. (source, B Corp)

The great thing about the B Corp seal is that it certifies the company as a whole, not just an individual aspect. It gives a customer insight on how a company is doing overall, from providing a living wage, to employee wellness, to lessening the environmental impact, to giving back to the community.

Fellow B Corp BBMG conducted a study on why B Corps matter and found that 73% of consumers care about the company, not just the product, when making a purchasing decision. Another interesting finding is that less than 1% of consumers actually trust company advertisements or statements when assessing a product or company. The more consumers know about the concept behind the B Corp certification/Benefit Corporation, the more consumer-spending will be influenced by this knowledge.

Check out this infographic to learn more about B Corps.(source, GOOD)

The bi-annual assessment and re-certification process is an excellent way to share our achievements with our customers and team members. More important, it helps us to set benchmarks for the social and environmental impacts of UncommonGoods and identify opportunities for future improvement.

We strive to be a driver of positive change and are convinced that collaborating with fellow B Corps and other industry leaders will have a positive impact. The certified B Corp community is made up of over 550 companies from 60 different industries and represents about $3.1 billion in revenues. It’s a large community of value-driven companies wanting to make a positive impact that are open to sharing advice and insights.

The holy grail of 100% sustainability is no small task to achieve – after all, the most sustainable product is the one that was never made – but we are very dedicated to making responsible, thought-through and well-informed decisions in everyday operations and to leading our business with integrity.

The Uncommon Life

Better to Give: Doing Good in the New Year

January 12, 2012

This holiday season, the term “Secret Santa” got a new meaning when mysterious donors paid off Kmart layaway accounts across the country. This heart warming story definitely helped get us in the holiday spirit, but it also got us thinking about ways to do good all year long.

We try to make it easy for our customers to help us give back through our Better to Give program. Through this program, we donate $1 to the Better to Give charity of your choice each time you place an order with UncommonGoods. Here’s what our partners were up to in 2011, and how you can get involved in 2012.

AmeriCares provided aid around the world in 2011, including continued work with earthquake and tsunami survivors in Japan, providing emergency relief to victims of recent flooding in the Philippines, awarding more than $600,000 in disaster recovery grants to nonprofit organizations across the United States, and much more. With your help, we donated $7,928 to the humanitarian relief organization between October and December.

You can help AmeriCares continue to do good in 2012 by donating online, volunteering, and getting creative.

AmeriCares delivers food to mothers and babies in need in Somalia. Photo via AmeriCares by Jaya Vadlamudi, International Medical Corps.

RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, expanded their programs, helped thousands of people through their online and telephone hotlines, and educated millions about sexual abuse. Customer’s choosing RAINN as their Better to Give organization helped us give $18,910 to the nonprofit in our fourth business quarter last year.

The organization is currently working with sexual assault victims from Penn State, and are supporting Penn State Alumni in White Out Child Abuse, a national awareness event. If you’re in one of the eight major cities involved, you can participate on January 21, or visit their website to donate online.

You can also help by joining RAINN in supporting the SAFER Act, a “no-cost bill that will create the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER), which will track the status of DNA evidence collected in rape cases.”

American Forests is the nation’s oldest nonprofit citizens’ conservation organization. With your help, we gave $19,082 last quarter to help make America a little greener.

In 2011 American Forests established the Science Advisory Board, a diverse group of scientists from different fields, geographic areas, and work experiences, to help address the complex issues America’s forests are facing.

American Forests also launched the Forests for Fifty campaign, an effort to complete reforestation and education projects in all 50 states. Through this campaign, the organization will plant more than 5 million trees throughout 2011 and 2012.

You can get involved by helping American Forests plant trees, or by planting a tree of your own.


The UncommonGoods team isn’t afraid to get our hands dirty and get planting!

City Harvest Since 1982, City Harvest has been collecting excess food from all segments of the food industry, including restaurants, grocers, corporate cafeterias, manufacturers, and farms and delivering it, free of charge, to nearly 600 community food programs throughout New York City. In 2011 the organization delivered more than 30 million pounds of food to hungry people. The organization also provides education and assistance when it comes to nutrition counselling, prevention of diet-related diseases, and bringing sustainable, affordable food to low-income areas.

On May 11, 2011, City Harvest raised almost $500,000 to help New York’s hungry through their annual Skip Lunch Fight Hunger campaign. We helped by taking part in last May’s event, and by donating $17,431 as the year came to a close.

Licensed food businesses help City Harvest every day by donating food, but you can help even if you don’t own a store or restaurant. Individuals can donate funds,volunteer in one of City Harvest’s programs , or attend one of their upcoming events.

Do you volunteer with a nonprofit organization? Are you helping others in your community? Whether you’re gearing up to get involved with one of our Better to Give Partners, or making a difference in your own way, we’d love to hear how you’re doing good in 2012.

The Uncommon Life

A Million Trees

October 28, 2011

UncommonGoods joined up with Million Trees NYC again this week to plant trees in Marine Bay Park.

Here’s Luis, posing with his very own sapling:

According to our HR assistant Melanie, the UncommonGoods team helped plant 1,400 trees!

The Uncommon Life

UncommonGoods Heads to the Farm

September 20, 2010

Last Friday, a group of UncommonGoods staffers headed out to Governor’s Island for a day of volunteering at the Added Value Farm.

(L to R) Mary Catherine, Marcus, Sara, Shammyann and Sarah are pulling up weeds from the okra, cabbage, collards and lettuce crops. The produce is donated and sold locally, and the farms offer educational programming and work opportunities for children and teens in South Brooklyn.