I love Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but now have a reason to love purchasing the company’s ice cream even more. Ben and Jerry opened up their ice cream shop in 1978 on a $12,000 budget. They knew that ice cream would not be the only important element in their business; they would need to be environmentally friendly and socially responsible.
The little ice cream shop in Vermont quickly became a hit, and profits soared. With newfound profits, the company decided that it wanted to give back. In 1985, the company created the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation; 7.5% of the company’s pre-tax profits go to the foundation to be put towards community-oriented projects. This foundation was just the beginning of the company’s giving.
In 2000, Ben & Jerry’s became a part of Unilever, but retained its own independent board so that it could continue with its social agenda. Since then, the company has been involved with several social initiatives. Here is a list of a few of Ben & Jerry’s actions that serve to highlight the company’s involvement with the community:
2001: Gave away over $100,000 to local non-profit groups through “Charity Scooper Bowls”
2002: Created the One Sweet Whirled ice cream flavor in a partnership with Dave Matthews Band and SaveOurEnvironment.org to fight global warming.
2004: Partnered with Rock the Vote to increase voter turnout among young people. On Free Cone Day, Rock the Vote Representatives hung out with crowd members and got over 11,000 people to register to vote over the course of the day.
2005: Created a 900-pound ice cream structure to protest oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which was served on the US Capital lawn with help from Greenpeace.
2007: Sent a group of protesters in cow costumes to Washington, D.C. to protest the FDA’s statement that meat and milk from cloned animals is safe to consume.
2009: Sponsored the “Do the World a Flavor” campaign, building a playground in the Dominican Republic.
2010: Converted the ingredients used in ice cream production to support the global Fair Trade movement.