T-Shirt Remix: Recycling America's Used Clothes for Social Impact

Your old t-shirts got shipped to Africa. Project Repat's local artisans recycle and remix them for resale, creating jobs and social impact.


Ross Lohr wants to sell you a used t-shirt, or six, for $25 a piece. He’ll tell you up front that he bought each one for about a dollar. Sounds like a ripoff? He hopes it’ll seal the deal.

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Can a Clothing Factory Stay Competitive While Paying Workers a Living Wage?

“A year ago, yes, it was a guess, it was a risk, today it’s not.”

Joe Bozich, the CEO of Knight’s Apparel—the largest provider of branded apparel to colleges and universities—got to know the Workers Rights Consortium when the labor organization’s director called him five years ago to tell him about a human rights problem at his factory in the Philippines.

“I don’t have a factory in the Philipines,” Bozich replied, before learning that a recent acquisition had brought that factory under his control. The company has stringent labor rights code of conduct, which includes twice-yearly surprise inspections by independent organizations. Bozich’s company worked with the WRC to resolve the problem.

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Eating Out? Bring a Charity to Dinner

One company is making philanthropy as easy as, well, ordering a pizza.

As times get tougher, it can be tougher to cut that check to charity; one study found that two-thirds of people plan to cut back on giving because of the economy. To counter that worrisome trend, a few for-profit companies are making it their business to support their nonprofit counterparts by making donating easier—automatic, even.

We reported on the alarm clock that donated to charity every time you hit snooze, and there’s always been that affinity credit card offer for your alma mater, but now GoodSearch (no relation to GOOD, though we have worked together) is trying to expand that principle so consumers can support more than 100,000 charities each time they order a pizza or head to their favorite bistro on date night. “The mission of our company is to empower people to change the world through simple everyday actions,” says Scott Garell, the company’s CEO.

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Crowdfunding, Why the SEC Bans It, Obama Wants It, and Banks Fear It Be Your Own Bank: New Laws Could Unleash Crowdfunding For Startups

The next generation of social enterprises could be funded, and owned, by you and me, if the government opens the door.

As politicians left and right lament that stingy banks won't lend "to get the economy going again," another source of capital sits untapped precisely because the government stands in the way: You, me, and anyone else who wants to invest directly in fledgling companies.

With wheels turning in Washington, that may soon change. When it does, the first beneficiaries are likely to be social enterprises—businesses with a social mission.

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Fifteen Innovators Championing Global Development

Fifteen social pioneers using technology to change the world, one community at a time.


How To Invest $1 Trillion In Social Enterprise? Rate 'Em!

Fifteen major investors are buying into a new rating agency for social enterprise in the next major step toward realizing the sector's potential.

Any entrepreneur will tell you a major obstacle to getting a company off the ground is finding investors. It’s doubly hard in the world of social enterprise, a relatively new sector that combines profit seeking with social impact goals—and unlike dollars and cents, there’s no standard set of metrics for social impact.

To solve this problem, the Global Impact Investment Rating System opened for business this week to pave the way for $1 trillion in capital to reach social enterprises over the next decade. Think of GIIRS (pronounced "gears") as a kind of Standard & Poors for the do-gooder capitalist, rating both individual companies’ social impact and that of socially responsible investment funds.

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