When a seemingly endless sea of brands offer products delivered to your doorstep with the click of a button, it can be overwhelming to shop in a way that aligns with your personal ethics and goals.
But it’s something buyers strive for: Studies show that consumers are four to six times more likely to purchase products from purpose-driven companies, making social responsibility a financial priority for many businesses.
While splashing claims of social responsibility across a website might be easy for businesses, living up to environmental and humanitarian promises in practice is quite challenging. Here are 15 companies that are doing it well.
Luxury skin care company Aēsop approaches corporate social responsibility through managing its environmental impact and social commitments.
All of the brand’s products are made from responsibly sourced ingredients that are vegan and never tested on animals. An Ethical Sourcing Program ensures that all suppliers of individual ingredients use environmentally responsible processes and uphold safe workplace practices.
Through the Aēsop Foundation, the brand supports charities with a particular focus on literacy development.
The sneaker company quickly became popular for its wool sneakers while also attempting to keep environmental goals in mind.
The brand only sources materials from suppliers willing to commit to its code of conduct, which ensures worker health, safety, and living standards.
By 2025, Allbirds aims to use 75% sustainably sourced natural and recycled materials and to have 100% of its wool come from sources that practice regenerative agriculture (reversing climate change rather than adding to it).
The company is also looking to reduce raw materials use by 25% (by redesigning packaging and reducing manufacturing waste) and to double the lifetime of footwear and apparel products.
3. Ben & Jerry’s
While we think that ice cream itself is a public service, Ben & Jerry’s takes it one step further.
The company started the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, a social justice organization that gives funding to grassroots groups across the US tackling causes like voting rights, racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, climate justice, and campaign finance reform.
The ice cream producer uses Fair Trade Certified ingredients, which ensures all ingredients are produced through environmentally friendly farming practices. Using Fair Trade ingredients is more expensive, but guarantees they’ve come from ethical suppliers: In 2017, Ben & Jerry’s paid a $3.4m premium to Fair Trade to support small farmers around the world.
For clothing company Bombas, which produces underwear, T-shirts, socks, and slippers, there’s more to each purchase than a simple transaction.
The brand says its products are the most requested items at homeless shelters, and for each item purchased, one is donated.
Bombas has a network of 3.5k+ partners that help distribute the donated clothing to overnight shelters, transitional living facilities, schools, rehabilitation centers, and others.
To date, the company has donated 75m+ essential clothing items to partner organizations across the country.
With 700k+ employees, Coca-Cola can do good simply by enacting change within the company. According to its website, the brand is striving to have women hold 50% of the company’s senior leadership roles in the US by 2030.
Additionally, Coca-Cola requires all of its plants to implement water treatment processes that allow wastewater to be safely returned to the environment at a level that supports aquatic life. The brand aims to make every bottle recyclable and has a target to reduce carbon emissions by 25% by 2030.
The soda giant says it has improved access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene for 18.5m+ people and has empowered 6m+ women across 100 countries with its 5by20 program that provides business training, financial services, and mentorship.
Outdoor gear company Cotopaxi lives up to its slogan of “gear for good” by giving back through its Cotopaxi Foundation. The company allocates a percentage of its annual revenue to nonprofits dedicated to eradicating poverty, particularly in Latin America’s poorest communities.
Cotopaxi is also a 1% for the Planet member, a global collective of companies committed to donating 1% of sales to causes that support the planet.
The company is climate-neutral certified, and plans to create all its products using repurposed, recycled, and responsible materials by 2025.
7. Dr. Bronner’s
Soap company Dr. Bronner’s makes it its mission to keep everything clean, especially the environment. The brand spent a reported $973.5k on social community projects in 2021, created 900 jobs through its work with local material producers, and sourced $21.3m in ethically sourced material.
Dr. Bronner’s says it shares at least one-third of its before-tax profits annually with charitable organizations. In 2021, it gave away a total of $8.6m.
The brand also launched a mentoring program to support small, BIPOC-led companies. It expanded its own mental health care benefits to include ketamine-assisted therapy, a treatment usually not covered by insurance.
The software giant has an extensive corporate social responsibility branch that covers inclusive economic opportunities, fundamental human rights, sustainability, and employee giving.
In 2021, Microsoft employees donated $214m to nonprofits with a company matching program; on top of that, 22k employees volunteered more than 590k hours.
The company has been carbon neutral since 2012 and is committed to being carbon negative by 2030. It diverted 15k metric tons of waste from landfills in 2021 and is committed to becoming zero waste by 2030 through reusing servers, eliminating single-use plastic, and making packaging recyclable.
The company promotes equal economic opportunity by partnering with community organizations that help close the broadband gap, build skills, and close the education and access divides.
The clothing company made headlines in September when founder Yvon Chouinard transferred ownership of the business — worth an estimated $3B — to a trust and nonprofit organization focused on fighting climate change.
The brand says that 87% of its line is Fair Trade Certified sewn, meaning that the workers in the factories that make the products are entitled to certain rights and safety. Patagonia has so far supported 64k+ workers through the program as well as 550+ farmers.
Patagonia also helps grassroots organizations through its Action Works program (a public platform that allows individuals to search for causes based on location and get involved) and has more than 1.4k environmental grantees.
10. Sprout Social
The social media management company tackles its electricity use by purchasing 90%+ Energy Star Certified electronics. It also only uses Energy Star Certified buildings for its US locations.
Sprout Social donates $500k annually to organizations that fight discrimination and support marginalized communities. Furthermore, it has donated $2m in software to 75 nonprofit organizations around the world.
Maybe you can rest easier knowing that your daily latte is furthering a good cause: Starbucks has numerous social impact programs that support people and the planet.
The company has committed to reducing its carbon, water, and waste footprints through expanding its plant-based menu, moving away from single-use packaging, and investing in regenerative agriculture.
The Starbucks Foundation has given $14m+ to organizations supporting women and girls and so far has helped empower 250k women in the global coffee, tea, and cocoa growing communities.
12. Stitch Fix
Online styling firm Stitch Fix takes a two-pronged approach to social impact through equity and sustainability.
The company strives for equality internally first, offering enhanced health benefits for transgender employees, a fair compensation structure, universal parental leave, and employee resource groups.
For its own lines (it carries clothing from multiple brands), Stitch Fix aims to source 100% of the main materials “more sustainably than conventional alternatives by 2025.”
The company also regularly evaluates the workplace conditions, wages, and health and safety of its clothing factories.
The mission-driven shoe company was founded with philanthropy as a main tenant of the business rather than an afterthought.
The business gives a third of its profits to grassroots organizations that focus on boosting mental health, increasing access to opportunity, and ending gun violence.
By 2025, Toms plans to expand its environmentally friendly product line, establish carbon reduction targets, and use packaging made from 80% recycled materials.
14. Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods, a curated, online marketplace of gifts, focuses on highlighting small businesses.
Through its Better to Give program, the company donates $1 to a partner organization for every purchase made. Since its inception in 2001, the program has donated more than $2.8m.
Its partner organizations include American Forests, which conserves forests; International Rescue Committee, which helps those uprooted by conflict; and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which creates internship and scholarship opportunities for students enrolled at historically Black colleges and universities.
15. Warby Parker
The D2C retailer has taken the glasses world by storm, but the company has further reach than its wide customer base. For every pair of glasses purchased, Warby Parker gives a pair to someone in need through partner organizations, totaling 10m pairs so far.
In response to Covid, Warby Parker distributed more than 2m units of PPE and safety supplies to 100 organizations in 8 countries through its partnership with VisionSpring.
The brand launched the Warby Parker Impact Foundation in 2019 to accelerate its philanthropic work, with a mission of advocating for wider access to vision services.