Thursday, October 2, 2014


In an unedited photo provided by Boxed Water Is Better, two cartons of the company's Boxed Water are shown. Founders Kevin Hockin and Ben Gott launched the purified water company in 2009 pledging a portion of its profits to clean water and reforestation projects. (AP Photo/Boxed Water Is Better) (AP)
Grand Rapids firm gives to earth-friendly causes
Grand Rapids company gives share of revenues to earth-friendly causes

Posted on Aug. 12, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 12, 2014 at 4:01 a.m.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The idea behind Boxed Water Is Better was creating a product that makes a difference.

Founders Kevin Hockin and Ben Gott launched the purified water company five years ago, pledging a portion of its profits to clean water and reforestation projects.

A few months ago, they decided to swap out profits for revenues.

Now, the Grand Rapids-based startup with offices in Holland and elsewhere donates 1 percent of total sales to non-profits, as a member of 1% for the Planet.

“Profit is a fluctuating thing, particularly in a startup state,” Gott told The Grand Rapids Press ( http://bit.ly/1q1ugoa ). “We just wanted to have something that is transparent, like our packaging and our whole product.”

Marketed as an environmentally friendly alternative to bottled water, Boxed Water’s packaging is primarily made of renewable resources. The cardboard is made from trees harvested in FSC certified forests. The water comes from Holland, where the product is also bottled.

The company is highlighting the partnership on the purposefully generic-looking Boxed Water containers.

Boxed Water joins 1,200 companies across 48 countries that range from California-based Patagonia to Belle Aquatic in Ann Arbor in the 1% for the Planet initiative.

“They are really aligned with companies we admire, like Patagonia,” said Gott, who learned about the organization after launching Boxed Water.

Patagonia is the Southern California clothing and equipment line started by Yvon Chouinard, a climber and fervent environmentalist, who also co-founded 1% in 2002.

Since then, the group has grown into a global network of businesses that donate one percent of annual sales directly to approved more than 3,600 environmental and sustainability organizations.

Gott likes the aspect of transparency that comes from the organization certifying its member companies by auditing their books, as well as the nonprofits that receive the donations.

When 1% for the Planet was being created, there was a big debate about the contribution should be 10 percent of profits, or 1 percent of revenues because those numbers are fairly close, said Jon Cocina, the international organization’s community development manager.

But ultimately, the group felt the top line could be less manipulated than the bottom line.

In the last decade, members have collectively given over $100 million to nonprofits that focus on sustainable food, wildlife, water, climate, environmental education, land stewardship or environmental human health awareness.

Cocina says the organization is on track to give more than $20 million this year.

“1% for the Planet’s goal is to connect and empower businesses, consumers and nonprofits, to make big, positive change,” said Cocina. “By contributing one percent of net annual sales to grassroots environmental groups, Boxed Water is positioning itself to affect real change.”

Gott says he likes the flexibility that 1% provides. Boxed Water can select the organizations it supports, and change its focus annually.

“One year it can be world water relief. The next year, it can be reforestation efforts,” Gott said. “As the needs change, we change.”

He thinks the 1% partnership can help amplify Boxed Water’s efforts as consumers make more sustainable choices with everyday decisions.

Boxed Water is stocked on shelves in 9,000 stores nationwide, through its network of 40 distributors and direct online sales, as well as markets in Mexico, Canada and overseas.

Distribution sales for the company more than doubled during 2013.

“We are almost bigger on the Internet than we are in real life,” Gott said. “There’s people who really want to support the brand and the story behind what we are. And if we aren’t available in their area, they are going to order online.”

Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, http://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids