What’s The Big Idea?

Last week, The New York Times published a story I wrote about a new social enterprise to finance climate change solutions, among other social justice and humanitarian issues, by strengthening individual buying power.

This is an issue worth keeping a close eye on over the coming years. Consumer spending habits have potential to prompt big change, and grass roots organizations like 350.orgknow the value of this kind of individual action.

Read “A Climate Proposal: Bundling Consumer Buying Power” in The New York Times.Here’s how my story begins:

Each year, an estimated 46 percent of the population is responsible for 77 percent of discretionary spending in the United States. To strengthen individual buying power, a Santa Barbara-based entrepreneur and philanthropist has

proposed a new social enterprise to finance climate change solutions, among other social justice and humanitarian issues.

The Big Idea, a nonprofit corporation founded by the entrepreneur Chris Norton and initially backed by his $11 million donation, is loosely modeled after the A.A.R.P., the membership organization that promotes the interests of retired people. The aim is to unify individuals with common interests.

Acting as a green intermediary, The Big Idea bundles purchases of regular services like like cellphone plans and auto insurance — what Mr. Norton calls “low-engagement  products” — to achieve social impact. By harnessing group buying power, members achieve a cost savings and share it with social justice and environmental action groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council,Environmental Defense Fund and 350.org, among others.

The article goes on to explain some of the challenges The Big Idea faces, including how consumers often doubt that their individual choices will make a difference. Read the complete story and let me know your thoughts.

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