PRODUCTS WITH PURPOSE WILL CHANGE THE WORLD (YOUNG PEOPLE RESPOND)

by Anis Salvesen (featuring Stanley Quan, Sarah Felleman, Sarah Keyston, Malaika Ramachandran, Tizoc Velasco)

Did you catch Jeff Rosenthal’s article featured on the Huffington Post titled Products With Purpose Will Change the World?  Jeff is a Founding partner and Chief Community Builder, Sherpa, and Ninja of Summit Series, the most incredible grouping of young movers and shakers in the world (members include the founders of Facebook, Twitter and Zappos).

Here is an excerpt from Jeff’s article:

For young adults, charity is generally viewed as an invisible act, something you might do but not want to advertise. We don’t tweet about our charitable donations, and you wouldn’t wear your Susan B. Komen 5K Turkey Trot T-shirt out with friends at a bar at night.

Charities, however, are beginning to grasp the new movement that has sprung up among young adults who want to define themselves and their future through associations with the brands they wear or possess.

We featured a blog post on Jeff’s article earlier this week, and he commented,

“I think that these ‘products for purpose’ are also a reflection of the young adults today who are already more conscious of their ability to impact their community and the environment; I am excited to see what the Universal Giving community has to say!”

Some very bright, amazing young people responded.  Here is what they had to say:

“I have a feeling that doing social good will not just be another hip fad, but will be the new benchmark. Don’t expect this wave to ease up anytime soon either. It will continue to grow as this generation of young people matures.

Everyone has the potential to change the world. Young people are the ones who have the spirit to pursue it.”

-STANLEY QUAN, UC BERKELEY, HAAS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS, CLASS OF 2011; Living and Learning

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I am a young teenager in Palo Alto, CA, and “going green” is the cool thing to do. Anything that promotes awareness to a cause is a tempting purchase to any student at my school. I agree that most people at my school might not just give large donations of money, but most girls take pleasure in the fact that they can buy items for themselves and help someone at the same time. Owning a product that, “has a purpose” is the new designer, especially because they can even be the same price. These products are changing the way young adults spend their money, and the way they perceive charity.  It is no longer some hard to do  act of goodness, but an accessible and popular way to spend your money.  Now everyone is purchasing and broadcasting his or her good heart by walking around with new products supporting various causes. This is, as said by Jess Rosenthal, going to change the world as my generation grows up and further develops this trend.

-SARAH FELLEMAN, CASTILLEJA SCHOOL FRESHMAN & ACTIVE MEMBER OF Peace Dot,  STANFORD UNIVERSITY PERSUASIVE TECHNOLOGY LAB

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As a young college student, I was incredibly interested to read Jeff
Rosenthal’s article about the role of my peers in changing the world through the products we purchase. I remember when the Livestrong trend hit back in middle school–everyone who was anyone had one of those yellow bands.
Soon, other causes (I have a pink one to support Breast Cancer Awareness and a red one to fight Child Abuse) picked up on this trend, and for a while, it was “cool” to cover your entire arm with these colorful bands. My fellow middle schoolers and I probably cared more about the colors than the causes the bands represented, yet we were doing our part to fundraise for many important organizations.

Nowadays, this product trend has continued, though I think the fundraising aspect has become even more subtle.  My roommate has a few pairs of TOMS shoes, and I would never have known about their cause-related background without asking her about them. If a marketing representative from a company like TOMS shoes can get the product to catch on and become “trendy,” celebrities (closely followed by college students) will raise significant money for charity just by trying to stay on top of fashion trends. Although I would like to say this behavior is driven by a desire to help others, I hardly believe this is the case. It is merely a convenient byproduct of modeling the latest trends.

-SARAH KEYSTON, UCLA FRESHMAN & TRIATHELETE-IN-TRAINING

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I am a huge fan of the concept of selling products for a charitable purpose. I think it’s great, it’s a give a little, take a little system that people love. I also think it’s a great way to raise awareness, especially for young people today. When I am buying something, I love seeing that the money I spend is going towards a charitable cause, and in fact, like many, this makes me want to spend more.

– MALAIKA RAMACHANDRAN, CASTILLEJA SCHOOL SOPHOMORE &  ACTIVE MEMBER OF Peace Dot,  STANFORD UNIVERSITY PERSUASIVE TECHNOLOGY LAB

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Most people like the idea of changing the world for the better and in a time when things seem to be spiraling out of control, these businesses take some of the power back and put it in the hands of the masses.

Rosenthal makes an excellent point that if not for these opportunities for young people to participate, most would otherwise never donate. Trying to effect change through educated consumerism (not supporting brands that perform animal testing for instance) has in the past been difficult but with the advent of these new businesses, it’s a lot easier and more fun because you also get a cool t-shirt for your efforts.

– TIZOC VELASCO, UCSB THIRD YEAR & FUTURE ENVIRONMENTAL INNOVATOR

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