1% for the Planet Business Spotlight: Fresh Off The Grid

Megan and Micheal, Fresh off the grid, San Diego, CA. Photo:Adam Clark/Brody Leven

Whether you are just learning about The Environmental Center or you have been aware of us for a long time, you know that we offer a wide variety of programs including sustainability education for local youth, garden education and technical assistance for school gardens, numerous free community events, climate advocacy work at local and state levels, and more. Our dedicated team works hard each and every day to advance our mission to embed sustainability into daily life here in Central Oregon

As a small, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, we are able to do what we do because of the generosity of a community of funders at all levels. Our work would simply not be possible without a diverse and sustainable funding portfolio, which is where our corporate sponsors fit in. We offer corporate sponsors various support opportunities that fit their needs best, one of which is through 1% for the Planet. 1% for the Plant is a global initiative where businesses pledge to donate 1% of their net profit to environmentally focused nonprofits. Learn more about 1% for the Planet in their video here.

In this Spotlight, we’d like to introduce you to one of our 1% for the Planet business members, Fresh Off The Grid, who generously donate a portion of their profits each year to sustain local nonprofits that align with their values.

Michael and Megan, founders of Fresh Off the Grid, doing what they do best: cooking outdoors! San Diego, CA. Photo:Adam Clark/Brody Leven

To learn more about Bend-based Fresh Off The Grid, and their commitment to sustainability through 1% for the Planet, we asked their founder Michael van Vliet a few questions. Here is what they had to say:

Why did you become a 1% for the Planet business member?

We became 1% for the Planet members because we wanted to build charitable giving into our business model from the very beginning. We saw that a lot of outdoor companies that sell products were members of 1% for the Planet but not many blogs or other content creators. So we felt that joining would be not only an opportunity to give back but a way to showcase that other online publishers and freelance operations can also build charitable giving into their business models.

We joined 1% for the Planet in 2017, when Fresh Off The Grid was barely profitable. Even though we didn’t have a lot to give at that time, we wanted to have the mechanism in place so as we grew our business, we would be able to scale up our contributions.

Why did you choose The Environmental Center as a 1% nonprofit partner beneficiary?

One of the great things about joining 1% for the Planet has been the ability to allocate our giving to different groups. Thanks to their large network of partners, we have the ability to choose between large national non-profits as well as smaller local-level operations.

As we are based in Bend, Oregon, we really liked the idea of giving to an organization that supports our local community.  Getting to see the impact The Environmental Center is having first-hand and having the ability to get involved directly (pandemic-withstanding) really helps deepen a connection.

We also love The Environmental Center’s commitment to working with the children of Central Oregon to ensure that the next generation grows up with a connection and understanding of the natural world and to foster a sense of stewardship towards our environment.

What has your experience been like as a 1% for the Planet?

We’ve had a really great experience being 1% for the Planet members so far. There is plenty of support if we need it, but also a lot of flexibility with who and how we can contribute. We really like their expansive directory of nonprofits which allows us to see beyond the big-name national organizations and discover more locally-focused operations as well.

What impact do you feel you have made as a 1% for the Planet business member?

Obviously, the raw dollars we are able to contribute are important. No matter how large or small, monetary contributions are the financial foundation that allows organizations, like the Environmental Center, to do the type of work they are doing.

Publicity and exposure are helpful, but nonprofits need access to capital in order to be effective. Our giving is just a small piece of a large budgetary puzzle, but we are very excited to be a part of the solution.

As a business member of TEC you join in our mission of embedding sustainability into daily life in Central Oregon – can you share what comes to mind when you think about sustainability?

For us, it comes down to actively considering the choices we make on a daily basis and continually exploring whether there are more sustainable alternatives we could choose instead. We really like to focus on the concept of “more sustainable” because it takes the pressure off to try to be perfect in all aspects. Sometimes there are reasonable, accessible alternatives and sometimes there aren’t, and that’s okay. We think the most important part is for us to continually and actively think about sustainability and try to make the best decision with the available information.

Specifically, being a food blog, there are lots of ways for us to consider sustainability. Could we cut down on trips to the grocery store? Could we reduce the number of meals that contain meat? How can we showcase more reusable products? Could we purchase more locally produced products? Can we find products with more eco-friendly packaging? The list goes on and on. While it can be overwhelming to think about all at once, we are really just trying to make better decisions, one decision at a time.

Megan and Micheal, Fresh off the grid, San Diego, CA. Photo:Adam Clark/Brody Leven

How do you live out your value of sustainability, either in your personal life or as a business?

The biggest impact we can make is to continue to give our readers the tools and resources they need in order to enjoy the outdoors in a sustainable and responsible way.

Whether it’s sharing new ideas on how to reduce single-use waste at a campsite, how to safely have a campfire, or educating people on the correct way to wash your dishes at a campsite, we are always looking at our content through the lens of sustainability.

Especially with the recent influx of new campers over the past few years, we feel an added sense of responsibility to help start people off on the right foot, by incorporating Leave No Trace principles into our content. So whether you are a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a complete novice, we want to make sure we are providing content that is accessible and educational on any level. As we know firsthand, bad habits can be hard to correct. So we want to make sure we’re starting people with the right mindset as they start their journey of exploring the outdoors.

Thank you again to Michael and Megan at Fresh Off the Grid, for the continued support and belief in our mission!

Megan and Micheal, Fresh off the grid, San Diego, CA. Photo:Adam Clark/Brody Leven

You can learn more about Fresh Off The Grid on their website www.freshoffthegrid.com or give them a follow on Instagram  @freshoffthegrid

Are you interested in becoming a supporter of The Environmental Center through 1% for the Planet, or in another way that aligns with your business model? Reach out to Development Director Tim Page (Tim@envirocenter.org) to learn more!