Making Ripples

Making Ripples

by Amanda Bancroft

Wouldn’t it be amazing if watching Netflix on a couch could change the world? Well, it could, if you bought a couch from a company doing good work with their profits. The kitchen table could help feed starving children, the bedsheets could raise money for hospitals, the car could even contribute to saving the environment – it all depends on the kind of products we buy and what companies do with the money they earn.

Hypothetically, our entire home could be filled with products designed sustainably from companies who do charitable work. No need to aim for instant perfection – after all, we have a lifetime to be conscious consumers. (It’s also worth mentioning that it helps to decrease our consumption and subsequent waste.) This is more like offsetting harm than increasing help, but still better than nothing. Just take tiny steps.

Nobody can change if they can’t see alternatives, so the first step to knowing our options is to be curious. For example, what if talking on the phone could help the environment and hundreds of charitable causes? Sound like a fantasy? True, cell phone manufacturing is not eco-friendly. With some awesome exceptions (like cases made from recycled tires) most electronics are hurting rather than helping the world. But giving up phones is impractical. So then what?

“Most companies go into business to make money. Thirty years ago, we went into business to make change,” writes cell phone company CREDO Mobile (not an acronym, but curiously spelled in all caps anyway). “We’ve succeeded better than we ever imagined. Since 1985, CREDO has raised over $88 million for progressive groups working hard for social change.” A portion of their revenue (from mobile, energy, and credit card services) is donated to nonprofit groups voted on monthly by CREDO members. The recipients of their donations are too numerous to list, but here are a handful of them: Oxfam America, Planned Parenthood, Rainforest Action Network, the National LGBTQ Task Force, Children’s Defense Fund, and Doctors Without Borders.

Their largest donation collection ever was in 2001, when they raised $195,000 for victims of the 9/11 tragedy. The company also offers free phone recycling and trade-ins. Through a separate program, they buy offsets for household electricity consumption, too. According to their website, “When you sign up with CREDO Energy with Energy Rewards, we buy clean, renewable energy credits on your behalf to offset your home’s electricity usage and help shrink your carbon footprint.” As of this writing, the offset service isn’t offered in Arkansas but exists for select states only.

Why wait, though? There are bright entrepreneurs here in Arkansas and everywhere who are making a difference, and many more who could start today. If not phones, then couches, or cars, or anything, really. Non-business-owners can help, too, by simply being curious. Ask what the alternatives are when you go to purchase something that feels like it might hurt the world. You never know, you might end up changing the world one fair trade pumpkin spice latte at a time!

Amanda Bancroft is a writer, artist, and naturalist living in an off-grid tiny house on Kessler Mountain. She and her husband Ryan blog about their adventures and offer tips to those wanting to make a difference at

Categories: Making Ripples