1% for the Planet – 20th Anniversary Interview

1% for the Planet was founded in 2002 by Craig Matthews (former owner of Blue Ribbon Flies) and Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia). They have been friends and fishing buddies since the 1980s when Yvon walked into Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, Montana.  One day while fishing by a river they were talking about a healthy environment and its importance to their businesses and more importantly, to survival of humans on Earth.

From that discussion, initial efforts led to the formation of 1% for the Planet – based on 1% of gross sales for businesses. The goal was to provide a way for member businesses to streamline their contributions (based on their income) to vetted conservation and environmental  organizations.  Somewhat ironically, Craig said Blue Ribbon Flies experienced a significant  increase in sales from its sponsorship of the organization.

Dave McCoy (owner of Emerald Water Anglers, and a Patagonia Ambassador) talked with Yvon and Craig for his Undercurrent podcast.

While the audio quality is not always great – as its a recording of a Zoom meeting, the discussion is worth the listening effort.

Overall, approximately 6,000 members are in the organization (including businesses and individuals – like me).   At the same, business representation is not always what people would assume.  One startling fact was that of the approximately 30,000 businesses of various types in sport fishing (i.e., manufacturers and retail.) – only nine (9) businesses are members.

They both expressed frustration that fly-fishing businesses have shown little to no support in anything but the mantra of grow, grow, grow.

And it’s not just their organization. The Fly Fishing Climate Alliance (none of whom belong to 1% for the Planet) has only seven guide-service members.

They assume that businesses are fearful of repercussions from their customers if they announce support for conservation and environmental causes – in a sport that depends on a healthy environment!

Even a company like Orvis, that has its own program of environmental donations, keeps its program relatively low-key (likely for similar reasons).

Perhaps those companies should recall the words of David Brower (first Executive Director of the Sierra Club and founder of Friends of the Earth): there is no business to be done on a dead planet.

As Craig said in the interview: silence is betrayal of future generations.

At the same time, it was inspiring to listen to the people who’ve supported their efforts – including some people not really able to afford the contributions they made. It always seems to me that people with the least to give have the biggest hearts.

You can listen to the discussion here.






Author: Tom

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