2016: A Year of Reverberating Results

2016 brought earth-shaking results, from the Presidential election to the Cubs’ historic World Series win. And retail responsibility was no exception. Brands launched innovative social initiatives in 2016 yielding results that will reverberate well into the New Year.

From global issues to community support, the following initiatives are a few of our favorites because these companies' commitments resulted in a big return on responsibility:

Levi's Goes Public on Water Strategy

Levi's spent the last decade identifying breakthrough ways to cut water use in its apparel chain.  After identifying a pair of Levi's 501 jeans uses 3,781 liters of water to be made, the brand took action. They now use 21 signature techniques in their products – known as the Water>Less products--that can save up to 96 percent of water in the finishing process. Since the program began five years ago, Levi's has saved over 1 billion liters of water. This year, Levi's took its water conservation leadership a step further by going public with its “Water<Less” process on World Water Day. Competitors were even invited to their innovation lab for the first time in history.  

The Results: Levi's gained recognition as a driver of change by sharing trade secrets that could have a significant impact on water savings. If the apparel industry follows suit, it could save 50 billion liters of water by 2020. 

Patagonia Puts the B in Black Friday

Patagonia sets a high standard for retail responsibility. The company is a B Corp, a certification of for-profit corporations that meet certain sustainability standards. In 2016, Patagonia made a commitment to donate all of its sales on Black Friday to environmental organizations. This bold move was made more impressive in the way they planned to give the money. Patagonia gives mostly to small, local grassroots groups, a network of around 800 organizations, so they can have direct hand in the impact. 

The results: The response was enormous. Patagonia projected $2 million in sales on Black Friday but hit a record $10 million in merchandise, benefiting grassroots, environmental groups.

Rockland Trust Rewards Reading

Some of our favorite retail responsibility programs are from local brands that make commitments to help the communities they serve. Take Rockland Trust in Massachusetts -- they host an annual summer reading program that motivates kids through their piggy banks. Their program, Reading Makes Cent$, rewards kids for every book they read over the summer. Any student from first through 8th grade earns $2.50 per book in a Rockland Trust savings account. 

The Results: Over 18,000 books read and over 1,800 student participants.

Dunkin' Pours on the Joy

Dunkin' Brands recently re-launched its foundation as “The Joy in Childhood Foundation” – a national charity focused on bringing moments of joy to sick and hungry kids. Moving away from its original brand-centric moniker – The Dunkin Donuts Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation -- the new name signaled an authentic commitment to the cause that went deeper than brand recognition. The organization kicked off its renewed commitment by mobilizing its employees to volunteer during one week. 

The Results: The Week of Joy engaged 1,600 employee volunteers at more than 40 food banks nationwide.

While retailers begin to focus more on a circular economy, we look forward to seeing and being a part of breakthrough acts of retail responsibility in 2017. Happy New Year!