Master of Environmental Studies Capstone Projects


Charlie Wurzer

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Consumer facing apparel brands are increasingly progressive in taking responsibility for their global environmental and social impacts. As a component of CSR or ESG, corporate philanthropy is not a new phenomenon, but the buy-one-give-one business model has recently emerged as an alternative strategy to give back while engaging consumers. Social enterprises, with social missions, have become commonplace as major brands in the past decade and a half, and their efforts to alleviate social issues have been equally praised and criticized. Social enterprises, with an environmental mission, are cut from the same cloth, but have yet to gain the same notoriety or market share as their counterparts. United By Blue and Tentree, with missions focused on ocean plastic pollution and deforestation respectively, have grown substantially in the outdoor apparel industry since their inception, but their philanthropic impact has yet to be adequately researched. This case study gathered publicly marketed metrics of corporate philanthropy from United By Blue and Tentree, then benchmarked those figures against metrics from Toms Shoes, Warby Parker, and Patagonia to determine if their environmental aid is effective in addressing the targeted issues. The results show that United By Blue’s strategy fits many of the criticisms that Toms Shoes has addressed recently, Tentree’s strategy fits many aspects that have garnered praise for Warby Parker, and Patagonia’s traditional strategy is still effective. Findings from this research show that the aid social enterprises provide has wide ranging implications but can be altered to be an effective component of a lager CSR/ESG strategy.



Date Posted: 27 January 2021