As the owner of a small business, I’m constantly presented with opportunities to give, sponsor and donate. Looking back over the last several years I’ve noticed that I’ve said ‘yes’ far more often than ‘no’ and as a result you’ve probably seen Trek Light’s products on silent auction tables far and wide, helping people raise money for an amazing variety of causes. It’s not because the business is incredibly profitable, it’s simply a choice that I’ve made to make giving a priority and not put charity off until I can actually ‘afford it’ down the road.
To me, true charity is not something that comes at the end of the year once you’ve had the chance to count your revenue, taken care of all your own ‘wants’ and then found something charitable to do with the leftovers. Because when you run a small business and you’re still trying to get over ‘the hump’, there are no leftovers. You and/or your staff will always be underpaid (or in my case you’ll be dreaming of what you could do if you actually had a staff) and there will always be amazing things that you can do to grow your business if you only had more money. Charity for small business owners is something you must make a priority, entirely independent of bottom lines or financial figures. It must be part of your business model entirely, and the same applies on a personal level – unless you’re incredibly wealthy you’re never going to have ‘extra money’ laying around. Real charity happens every day because you’ve chosen to make sacrifices independently of your own finances.
I’ve been putting a lot of thought lately into what I can do that’s more consistent and more in line with my goals to give back and make an impact without having to wait until the business grows big enough down the road. Something that goes beyond saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to individual donation requests and actually becomes part of the day to day essence of what Trek Light Gear is about.
Introducing Trek Light Gear’s ‘Buy A Hammock, Plant A Tree’ Program:
Starting today, for every hammock that you purchase from Trek Light Gear, a tree will be planted in an area that desperately needs reforestation.
Trees and forests are the keystone to our planet’s survival – we all know that every living organism serves a purpose in our eco systems, lose one and a chain reaction will occur. But our planet’s trees are overachievers in every way imaginable. Their role in protecting our planet reads like the description of every major environmental campaign combined: they generate clean air and oxygen, recycle water, reduce pollution, provide nutrients, medicine and food to both animals and humans, regulate temperature, and of course provide a habitat to countless species of animals that our world would not be the same without. It’s not a loss that our planet can ever afford and yet our forests are being decimated at an alarming rate each and every day.
Donating hammocks or Eco Totes to a variety of organizations has been a great chance for me to support a multitude of causes and I’ll continue to do it whenever I can. But ultimately I know that there’s more I can accomplish with a more focused effort and most importantly I realized that I can’t do it alone.
Trek Light Gear has always been about community. You’ve rallied to support the company online and offline and the connection I feel with our customers is truly what drives me each and every day to continue reaching more people. Which is why I decided to form this partnership with you. I want you to know that with every single purchase you make from Trek Light Gear, every time you recommend us to a friend, you’re actually making a direct contribution to make the world a better place.
I can’t think of a better example of this kind of partnership and this kind of charity than what Blake Mycoskie has done with Tom’s Shoes. His One For One shoe program accomplishes exactly what I’ve been feeling since I founded Trek Light Gear and is a huge inspiration to me. Blake has showed the world that true charity can and should be active instead of passive and must be an integral part of who you are – whether as a business or an individual.
If you’re not aware, today is Arbor Day in the United States, a fitting day to make this announcement if there ever was one. The Buy A Hammock, Plant A Tree program begins today and it is now an official part of Trek Light Gear’s business model and mission. In the days and weeks ahead I’ll work on getting the word out with updates to our site, press releases, banners, etc., but in the meantime I hope you’ll help me by spreading the word using whatever method possible (tweet it, facebook it, stumble it, digg it, tell your friends – you can use some of the links below the post to immediately share this).
As far as the details of the program go, there are plenty of organizations out there that offer tree planting and reforestation services. I was hoping to announce the launch of the program by partnering with one specific organization, but after speaking with several of them I’d really like to see which one proves to be the best fit for us. So, I plan to initially work with a few different organizations to help make this program a success and if one particular group cements itself as the right partner for this program I’m sure I’ll make an announcement and work solely with that group going forward. If you happen to have a recommendation for an organization you’ve worked with in the past, don’t hesitate to let me know.
As always, thanks for reading, thanks for being a supporter of Trek Light Gear and thanks for partnering with us to give back and help save one of the most vital resources this planet has.
[UPDATE: Check out this follow up post, One Thousand Trees At A Time - we've already planted 1,000 trees and counting!]