SocialBusiness.org spoke to Alli Blum of United By Blue (UBB), an environmental business with H20 at the center of its ethos. Essentially, for every product sold, one pound of trash will be cleaned out from waterways and oceans.
We've featured a few of UBB's product releases before, like the so-collegiate-it'll-make-you-want-to-go-back-to-school Spring lookbook dubbed 'Here Comes The Sun.'
But this interview with Blum, Director of Marketing, focuses on the "one-for-one" business' relationships with the so-called "big guys," in this case, a collaboration with Sperry Top-Sider and a partnership with Subaru. All in all, this points to how smaller social start-ups are collaborating with larger corporates in order to create the most value and, in the end, create the most change.
Interview with Alli Blum about United By Blue's Partnerships
Tell our readers a little bit about your partnership with Subaru.
Subaru and United By Blue have teamed up to address the global problem of plastic pollution on a local level. Subaru is providing United By Blue with two brand new Outbacks to drive to cleanups around our home base of Philadelphia and around the US. With two vehicles, we can bring more people to more cleanups and have a greater impact on our waterways. Subaru is a great partner and isn't stopping at giving us cars -- we're also working together to host cleanups. At our first cleanup with Subaru on April 28, we removed 7,248 pounds of trash with over 110 volunteers. They helped us cross the 100,000-pound threshold at UBB!
And how about the clean-up with Sperry Top-Sider? What’s the most out-there thing that was found that day?
At our cleanup with Sperry Top-Sider, we removed 3602 pounds of trash from the beach at Canarsie Pier in Brooklyn, NY with the help of 80 volunteers. There was some pretty weird trash that day, including a skateboard, a doll head and the bottom half of a 7-inch platform heel.
We're excited to work with Sperry Top-Sider because they're a classic brand with a Passion for the Sea, and our partnership is about turning that mutual passion for into action. Our next cleanup will be in Annapolis, MD on June 8 in celebration of World Oceans Day. We've also worked together to co-brand a few of our signature organic slub jersey t-shirts which will be sold online at sperrytopsider.com and at Sperry retail locations across the United States.
Why is it important for smaller environmental and social businesses to partner with big companies?
The explosion of social entrepreneurship over the last decade or so has raised our collective awareness and turned many passive consumers into socially conscious consumers. For larger, more established brands, working with small and socially conscious consumers allows them to show their customer bases that they're committed both to solving social and environmental problems. When larger companies work with United By Blue, they actually get to bring out their employees and customers and work with us to clean up oceans and waterways.
For smaller companies like UBB, working with larger companies allows us to grow our mission and to reach wider audiences. Partners like Subaru and Sperry Top-Sider have a global reach, and when we work together, we introduce more people to our brand and to the problem of ocean and waterway pollution.
Do you think there’s a potential to “sell out,” if you will?
At a lesser company, maybe. At UBB, large companies want to work with us because of our mission and our environmental efforts. Hosting ocean and waterway cleanups is why large companies choose to partner with UBB, and if we weren't true to our mission, then they wouldn't have any reason to partner with us.