Spurred by social media, innovation, and dedicated entrepreneurship, businesses have never had a better opportunity to orient themselves towards providing a positive social impact on the world around them. We know this to be true because here in New York there are so many companies that are, as the old saying goes, doing well by doing good. Here are six impactful social good companies operating in New York City that we admire.
1. Warby Parker
Warby Parker is possibly the most revolutionary retail start-up in the country right now. Called by GQ Magazine the “Netflix of eye-ware,” Warby Parker hit the market with an innovative business model based on online sales and in person showrooms - something no one believed viable for such a personal product as glasses. Never-the-less, after only five years, Warby Parker is valued at over a billion dollars. But that isn’t all that makes the company stand out. Warby Parker is also leading the way for socially conscious businesses. It is 100% carbon neutral, a certified B Corporation, and its “Buy a pair, Give a pair’ program has distributed over 1,000,000 pairs of eyeglasses to people in need.
In creating Catchafire, founder Rachael Chong envisioned a way to more effectively connect non-profits in need of specific help and volunteers with the right skills to make an impact. Now that vision is a reality. Catchafire has become a wonderfully impactful community of individuals striving together to advance the social good sector. All because of a belief that everyone can have an impact if they find the right opportunities!
It’s safe to say that Upworthy has changed the game for grassroots movements of all kinds. The “viral wizards,” as the Atlantic called them, Upworthy has combined smart technology and change-oriented progressivism to make sure that "stuff that matters” gets seen by millions of the right people online. Today, in part thanks to the visibility Upworthy provides to movements, organizing lives not just on the streets but also online.
4. 4th Bin
4th Bin is a company in New York City that picks up electronic waste from local businesses and residents. Their door-to-door, e-waste recycling solution is convenient, simple and inexpensive. Operating in an industry with little ethical accountability and full of “green washing,” 4th Bin makes it possible to feel confident and good about throwing out electronics that can often contain toxic or harmful components.
Recyclebank is a company that has found an effective, real-world way to encourage recycling and environmentally friendly habits by offering rewards. In 2001, founder Patrick FitzGerald saw that New York City was considering ending its citywide recycling program and realized that people in his city had no true economic incentive to recycle. By using a “gamification” model and appealing to individuals, communities, and brands alike, Recyclebank has been able to make a real impact. To date over 4 million people have signed up for Recyclebank's rewards program.
6. Green ABCs
Green ABCs is a sustainable school supplies and stationary company offering the only full-range of green products needed for the classroom. Their vision is to promote the green revolution from inside schools and to put green school products in the hands of every child, educating them along their way through school about sustainability and environmental challenges they must face and overcome as they grow into the leaders of the future. It is a tall task, especially as a small competitor in the $7 billion retail market for school supplies, but by working with global brands and manufacturers they have managed to create affordable products that are made with recycled material, renewable resources, and innovations in biodegradability
All these companies in NYC, and many more throughout the United States, are doing great work creating the world that they want to see. Rather than waiting for government and larger, more powerful companies to catch up to the vision, they are going out and manifesting their ideas through the world of business.
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