UncommonGoods team members are passionate about their work. As partners, parents, sons, and daughters we’re also committed to family. All workers should be able to balance the two, but nearly 85% of Americans aren’t able to take paid time off to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one. In fact, the United States is the only highly industrialized country that does not mandate paid family leave. That’s why we’ve been voicing our support for Paid Family Leave laws in all 50 states, including in our home in New York. To continue these efforts, we’re proud to partner with the New York Paid Leave Coalition.Starting January 1, 2018, New York became the fourth state to officially launch a Paid Family Leave program, which means that New York’s working families no longer have to choose between caring for their loved ones and risking their economic security.
At UncommonGoods, we strive to be more than a business: We strive to be a force for good. In addition to providing one-of-a-kind, high-quality handmade goods to our customers, we’ve made it our mission to use our business to help improve the world we live in. As an independently-owned company with 18 years under our belt, we’re lucky to have the freedom to act according to our convictions, providing our workers with a living wage and a generous paid family leave policy, donating thousands annually to our Better to Give partners, and supporting makers who create a positive social and environmental impact wherever possible.
Of course, this isn’t all that we do each year. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to ensure we’re supporting causes we believe in as effectively as we possibly can, and we’re always trying to make sure that UG is a great place to work. (Side note: Being a great place to work, like most things, requires a lot of trial and error, and we don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we do know that being open to change and putting our employees’ needs first are key points for us.) This year, we’re letting you in on our proudest achievements, from work we’ve done within our Brooklyn warehouse to relationships we’ve built with new nonprofit partners. Read on for more on what we’ve done #InsideUG, with our Better to Give partners, and within the B Corporation community.
Here at UncommonGoods HQ in Sunset Park’s historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, we’ve made some improvements of our own. In June, we announced the launch of our Guiding Principles, a series of seven carefully formulated standards by which we at UG strive to lead our professional lives. With values like We Are a Force for Good, We Are Open-Minded, and We Are Always Learning, we’re encouraged to foster a culture in which we respect one another and consider our company’s impact on the world. (But more on that later.)
*Editor’s note: On November 26, 2017, UncommonGoods participated in Shop for Good Sunday. Following Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, Shop for Good Sunday celebrates businesses that make a positive impact on the world. The newest addition to themed post-Thanksgiving shopping days, Shop for Good Sunday was founded by the team at DoneGood, a social enterprise working to put people in touch with brands that share their values. DoneGood’s Cullen Schwarz took a moment to tell us about his company’s mission and why “consumerism” doesn’t have to be a dirty word in this guest post.
The most powerful tool you have to change the world is in your pocket right now
There’s a revolution happening across the country and around the world. UncommonGoods is a part of it. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a part of it already too.
Our world is filled with tremendous love and beauty. It also has some problems—inequality, environmental degradation, exploitation to name a few.
We believe that the world’s most powerful force for addressing those problems is already in your pocket—it’s the dollars you spend. We quit our careers to start DoneGood because we wanted to help people more effectively wield that power.
Together we all spend trillions of dollars buying stuff every year—if even a fraction of that money can automatically help alleviate poverty, fight climate change, and otherwise make the world better, the impact is huge!
The dollars we spend help solve problems when we shift our shopping to mission-driven social impact brands—companies that are paying good wages, empowering people, investing in communities, offering paid family leave, and using sustainable production practices.
UPDATE 9/25/2017: Americares emergency teams have been deployed to Puerto Rico and Dominica in the Caribbean. The organization has been working with the Puerto Rico Department of Health to stock emergency shelters in San Juan with medical equipment and supplies. As of last week, Americares has provided $9 million in medicines, supplies, and other assistance to more than 50 partners in Texas, Florida, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and St. Martin to help survivors of the recent storms.
UPDATE 9/19/2017: Earlier this week, Americares airlifted $1.8 million in critical medicines and medical supplies for Hurricane Irma survivors throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hurricane Maria, now a Category 5 storm, is predicted to plow through the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico starting this evening. Visit americares.org for more updates on emergency response efforts for those caught in this hurricane season’s devastating paths.
UPDATE 9/11/2017: Americares has deployed emergency response experts to assist in relief efforts for communities in the path of Hurricane Irma. Before it reached Florida over the weekend, Hurricane Irma killed more than 25 people in the Caribbean and devastated several islands, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Barts, St. Martin and St. Thomas. Click here to learn more about Americares response to Hurricane Irma.
There are a lot of businesses that solely focus on profit… but we’re not one of them. Of course, we do need to make a profit to succeed as a business. But it’s also important to us that in everything we do, we use our business as a force for good. That means having a positive impact on people and our planet–and continuing to make the changes that will help us do more good.
Thanks to your feedback and our partners at Emerald Brand, a company specializing in revolutionary eco-friendly products, we are officially ditching inflated plastic packing material. While those little air-filled plastic bubbles might be fun to pop, they’re not exactly environmentally friendly. We’re excited to announce that your goods will now be shipped using Emerald Brand paper-based packing material made with 80 percent post-consumer fibers, which is not only recyclable, but also compostable.
Throughout the month, we are celebrating our 10th “B” Day! (Not to be confused with the birth of our company that happened waaay back in 1999.) Our “B” Day commemorates our official initiation into the B Corp community, a community of businesses that have successfully passed a B Corp Assessment. The assessment scores companies on how they’re building better businesses by taking care of their workers, their customers, the community, and the environment. In 2007, we stood with 42 other companies and signed a declaration of interdependence proclaiming our mission to use our company as a force for good. Over the next few weeks we’ll be celebrating this in ways that relate to all of the key areas that are measured by B Lab (the non-profit that is in charge of the B Corp Assessment and the certification process). In honor of this exciting anniversary, we’re taking a look back on what’s happened through the years with our B Corp score, the B Corp movement, and to throw in a little extra fun, the world at large over this decade-long stretch.
B Corp: And so it begins! Our first Impact score: 97
UG: In searching for an assessment process to internally audit our practices to show that we are practicing what we preach in terms of our societal and environmental commitments, our founder and CEO, Dave Bolotsky, committed UncommonGoods to be a founding B Corp. We’re one of 43 companies to be recognized with this distinction.
And also this: The seventh and last book in the Harry Potter series is released.
B Corp: The first B Corp Champions Retreat is hosted in California.
UG: We say so long to Manhattan and complete our move to the Brooklyn Army Terminal.
And also this: Barack Obama is elected, becoming the first person of color to serve as president of the United States.
This summer we celebrate 10 years as a B Corporation and joining a movement that uses business as a force for good. We’re glad we have been able to use the power of business to tackle tough social and environmental problems over the years, including issues related to conservation, paid family leave, and more.
It’s safe to say that none of this would be possible without you – our customers. So we’re going all out to celebrate our “B” Day!
Earlier today, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear full arguments in October for Trump v International Refugee Assistance Project and Trump v State of Hawaii, cases regarding the Trump administration’s proposed travel ban. This decision allows the administration to move forward with a limited version of its ban on travel from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. With this decision, a 120-day ban on refugees will also be allowed to take effect on a limited basis.
We recognize that the world is increasingly volatile. We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we do know that safe communities are important to everyone—regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or home country. That’s why UncommonGoods supports organizations that advocate for causes that we believe in. In light of the decision to reinstate the travel ban, we are proud to stand with the International Rescue Committee, our longtime Better to Give partner.