Triple Bottom Line Fruit

Every two weeks, Bright Funds receives a cardboard box, filled with apples, oranges, pears, occasional vegetables, and, when lucky, mangoes, watermelons, and avocados. To be frank the fruit is…odd. Tennis ball-sized grapefruits, crooked carrots, scarred mandarins, and giant apples are staples. All of these foods are sourced and delivered by a company known for sourcing the “ugliest” fruit from local farms – fruit that tastes great but is rejected by supermarkets for cosmetic imperfections and otherwise doomed to rot in landfills.

Not only does the fruit gain a sense of purpose and a dollop of dignity, but Bright Funds now spends less than half of what was previously budgeted for well-rounded apples and bump-free carrots. Although small in scale, a simple change in supplier ensures that our office alleviates a bit of the 3 billion pounds of food waste redirected to landfills in California every year. With a pound of lemons requiring 70 gallons of water to grow, and a pound of avocados requiring 140 gallons, the impact of some salvaged fruit begins to stack up.

Profit – check. Planet – check. People – not quite. Yes, this blog post is about the triple bottom line: the measure of a company’s success as defined not only by profit, but also by its environmental and social impact.

As a tech company in San Francisco, a tech company with a mission of empowering others to do good, we cannot remove ourselves from the growing inequalities in the Bay Area. Instead of pocketing the incurred savings, spending them on another happy hour, or buying the quintessential office ping pong table, Bright Funds reinvests this money in our community – ensuring that others also have access to sustainable food sources.

Whenever Bright Funds receives a box of fruit, a Bright Funds employee, chosen at random, receives a Bright Funds Credit Grant (a gift card that can be applied to any of the nearly 2 million nonprofits in the Bright Funds database). Along with the gifted credits, the recipient receives a recommendation to donate their grant to either the Food Justice in the Bay Fund, containing three nonprofits ensuring food access for low-income communities in the Bay Area, or their favorite local organization working to build sustainable food systems.

To put things in perspective, if global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest generator of greenhouse gases in the world behind China and the United States1. On a local scale, just miles from the Bright Funds office, in East Oakland, there’s an average of one supermarket per 93,126 residents2. Bright Funds’ choice to consume ugly fruit is a nearly inconsequential detraction from the behemoth of these social and environmental ills.

More so than aiming to make an impact, this program provides a framework for an impactful reimagination of business practices as a whole. Through thoughtful and careful reevaluation of all practices – purchasing, hiring, educating, selling, etc. – any company and any individual can create opportunities to do good. And it is through the amalgamation of such inconsequential detractions that the behemoth may begin to topple.

For more information on our Food Justice in the Bay Fund, or any of our other cause-based funds, please email Mark@brightfunds.org.

1 Royte, Elizabeth Royte. “One-Third of Food Is Lost or Wasted: What Can Be Done.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 13 Oct. 2014. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.

2 https://oaklandnorth.net/few-food-choices/Fruit

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