You love your job at the design agency, consultancy or engineering firm. You DON’T want to change and start to work for a charity or start your own social enterprise. But you DO want to have a positive social impact at work and feel good about your time in the office? Well, we've got you covered. 

Last week I had a conversation with a friend of mine who I haven’t seen for a while about his (very successful and highly profitable) business and asked him if it was a social business. His response was one I have heard a million times. No, it’s not a charity. If I want to help people, I donate. If I want to do business, I do business.

If we all did business in a social way, we wouldn’t need to donate.

Reality-check: If we all did business in a social way, putting the planet’s and people’s interests up there with making ourselves some dollar, we wouldn’t need to donate. At least not nearly as much.

If workers in Asia weren’t exploited by Western clothes manufacturers, if supermarkets packaged their food less, if the internet giants all used green energy we would put a hell of a lot of charities out of business. And they would be pretty damn happy about it.

It’s not necessarily about what you do, it’s how you do it. Of course, there are Social Businesses which are created with the primary intention of making the world a better place, where making money is just a means to an end. But where would we be without companies which provide us with pencils, houses, electricity and all the other stuff we have developed along the way? Well, surpriiiise! They can be social too! And so can you!  Making money is easy. We humans have got that one down. The real challenge is finding ways to make money in ways which don’t come at a high price for everybody else.

So there are the BIG things. Like paying your employees a fair wage, lowering your emissions by investing in new technology, reducing travel by introducing webinar software for international meetings and car-sharing for the daily commute.

But there are some smaller changes which you can build into your office life right NOW to help you and your company to do GOOD on a daily basis. Here’s our top eight.

  1. Invest in good and fair coffee
  2. Look for good gifts
  3. Invest in clean energy
  4. Stop buying bottled water
  5. Share your skills
  6. Stop using Google
  7. Invest in green stationary
  8. Use the right bank

1. Hot Coffee 

coffee circle keepcups

Don’t panic - nobody is asking you to go without your morning (and mid-morning, and post-lunch, and post-nap) coffee. Especially not since Coffee Circle came along. Fairtrade is good. Coffee Circle is better. Coffee Circle works directly with cooperatives in Ethiopia to ensure that the coffee famers are fairly paid and can develop their business sustainably. And it is delicious, because it is created by coffee lovers, who know more about coffee than you ever thought possible. And roasted right here in Berlin.

Want a delivery straight to your office? Fill in the contact form here, and the team will get back to you right away. 

More the coffee-to-go type? Then reduce your CO2 waste by buying one of these awesome KeepCups. Take it with you to the coffee shop and have them fill it up for you! We <3. 

2. Seriously Good Gifts

It’s that time of year again. You know you are about to get a load of crap delivered to your desk in recognition of being such a “loyal customer”. Sick of novelty USB sticks, out-of-date chocolates and slightly dodgy wine? Cut the junk and this year, stand out from the crowd with gifts for your customers and employees that say you care (and have a sense of humour). With OxfamUnverpackt you can buy a herd of goats for a family, fund a well for a community in Africa or even build a brand new classroom! Check out the gifts online at OxfamUnverpackt and then order online or call (030) 4530 6944. 

3. Reach for the Stars

reach for the stars

Switch your energy to a supplier that uses 100% renewable energy. Bye bye Vattenfall and Gasag, hello Polarstern. Since 2011 Polarstern has been delivering electricity and gas which is from 100% renewable energy. As far as gas is concerned, Polarstern is currently the only provider in Germany that delivers it in the form of 100% organic waste.

4. Get Some Soul


Have you also got a pile of plastic bottles threatening to spill out from under your desk and reveal your dirty habit to the world? Drinking water out of plastic bottles is not only a huge waste of resources but also a shed load of money... and consuming plastic in your drinking water isn't super healthy either. So get yourself a funky Soul Bottle and a water filter and turn the tap on! You will not only be a climate warrior but you are also bound to turn some heads with these crazy designs.

5. Use Your Skillz

pro bono

You are highly skilled in developing communication strategies but bored of doing it to sell corporate software? How about using your skills for a few hours a week to help an organisation which teaches disadvantaged kids how to programme; houses the homeless or is tackling ebola. Are you more the corporate type? Check out Proboneo. You're a a startup Queen or King? Then 'Give Something Back to Berlin' is for you. Creative geniuses should head to youvo.

6. Search Well


Did you know that the energy used by a single google search is equivalent to turning on a 60W light bulb for 17 seconds? Now consider that people conduct over 1 billion searches a day, and you’ve got a massive energy footprint of roughly 12.5 million watts. Switch your search engine to one which plants trees! Ecosia, based here in Berlin, donates 80% of the income it generates through search to a reforestation project in Brazil. It's easy and it works. So do it. Now! (Wait, read til the end of the article and then do it).

7. The Cutest Stationery


We love these direct recycled envelopes from Memo. Made out of old ordnance survey maps, they are not just excellent for the environment, but also super stylish. Even recycling costs a bit of energy (though less so than making it new), so Memo just uses the maps as they were, folding them into an envelope shape and hey - presto - you’ve got the cleverest new envelopes in town! All of Memo’s stationery is low-carbon and/or recycled, so if you don’t fancy these, there is lots more to choose from.

8. Clean Money

clean money

With all that money you are making being a super successful social business person, you will need somewhere to put it. If possible, it would be nice if the bank you chose didn’t just go and undo all your good work and speculate in grain, pushing food prices up artificially and increasing world hunger. (For example.) SO best to bank with one of the social and sustainable banks around like Triodos. They’ve got you covered, and the planet too.

Manage all of that and you are well on your way to being a seriously social business (person). Yeah!

This article was originally published September 24th, 2015

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