Lately, I have been having a major shopping dilemma. After watching, The Story of Stuff (100 times), I need to figure out how to STOP being part of the problem of creating toxic products (clothing, food products, electronics, etc) – especially as a resident of Greenpoint, where we process almost half of the city’s garbage. I need some stuff, but I need to consider the environment and my health when making purchasing decisions.

This is where Dan, founder of a new company called The Mutual, comes in. We met at Urban Rustic, a quick walk from his office space at The Yard. After working at a big marketing firm, Dan did a lot of research and discovered “the green gap,” that is “66% of the U.S. population wants to live greener but doesn’t fulfill on that intent.”

We both looked down at our plastic ice coffee cups. Point taken.

If I asked you: are you concerned about the environment? The food system? Your health? You would most likely answer, yes. But we are busy bees, organic food is expensive, and we like our STUFF and don’t take a lot of time to find out how it all impacts the world around us. If accomplishing all these goals were easier and more fun, we might be more inclined to reach them.

Here we have The Mutual. By signing up for a membership for as little as $10/month you become part of a community that donates to “cause partners” like, Oceana, The Trust for Public Land, Center for Ecoliteracy & World Resources Institute, and you are rewarded via a “perks network” to receive discounts and freebies from Kill Devil Hill, Brooklyn Brewery, Berry Park, Sprout Skincare, Gourmet Guild, Old Hollywood, Spritzenhaus, and beyond. This is the age of giving in order to receive, and giving to green causes is a good thing.


My BIG question was, are the businesses giving out the perks green, too? Dan answered that he doesn’t take a “holier than thou” approach to becoming greener and that by involving businesses in this network and showing them that consumers care about the environment, they will be compelled to make better choices. Since beginning The Mutual in January, it has raised over $10,000 for environmental causes.

Another question that was raised concerned local charities. Might Greenpointers and local businesses be more compelled to become part of this network if we know the donations are helping non-profits in our area? When The Brooklyn Kitchen was approached by The Mutual to participate they brought up the Greenpoint Reformed Church Soup Kitchen, a local charity they support.

The Mutual is open to including local charities, but first makes sure the funds are going to the right place in an “80:20 ration,” (that is 80% to the cause) which is amazingly the business model for The Mutual, which is not a non-profit but a B-Corp.

If any neighborhood is a perfect testing ground for a system in which consumers support local businesses that support local community charities – it’s Greenpoint. I especially hope that local environmental causes, like Newtown Creek Alliance are considered in the network, because we certainly have some cleaning up to do in our own backyard.

While I think that more emphasis should be put on the brand’s responsibility to the environment in the first place, since let’s face it, all the stuff we consume is the reason why we need to donate to environmental causes, keeping it hyper-local is a good way to facilitate change and spread the message. Let’s look forward to The Mutual growing it’s network and raising money for environmental causes on a broad scale and hopefully soon in Greenpoint.

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  1. Fascinating article but I would BEWARE of all these so called environmental organizations that end up being self serving. What I love about the USA is that everything becomes a business.
    Nevertheless, I have come to believe that our economy purely based on raw consumerism is about to hit a brick wall. I hate to use the trendy term” non sustainable” but, I’m afraid it is. We cannot simply keep working to buy products that we do not need so that we can be working making them etc. What we end up is with a plethora of garbage and old goods that are tossed out so that they may be replaced by newer ones. The result is what we have now and it’s the beginning of an environmental disaster. Food for thought and a really nicely written piece.

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