2016 Community Impact Awards: Social Entrepreneurship

Winner: Savers, Evrnu

Gold Award: 
Location: Bellevue  |  Employees: 14,308   |  (22,000 total)  |  Top Exec: Ken Alterman, president/CEO  |  savers.com | valuevillage.com

The power of “reuse” goes a long way toward creating a better, more sustainable world, says Ken Alterman, president and CEO of Savers, the for-profit, privately held global thrift retailer with nearly 330 locations, including Value Village stores, in the United States, Canada and Australia. Through its business model of purchasing, reselling and recycling second-hand merchandise, it benefits more than 120 nonprofit organizations in its local communities.  “Whether a product is sold at one of our stores or recycled,” Alterman notes, “rethinking reuse is key to making a more sustainable planet.” In the Greater Seattle area, Savers/Value Village has been partnering with local nonprofits for nearly 50 years. During the past 10 years, the company has paid its nonprofit partners in Washington state more than $100 million — more than $11 million last year alone. “Communities are stronger when businesses are involved and we’ve proven this through our relationships,” Alterman says. “Our view is that if our communities aren’t flourishing, how can we expect our businesses to thrive?” 

Silver Award: 
Location: Seattle  |  Employees: 4  |  Top Exec: Stacy Flynn, cofounder/CEO  |  evrnu.com

Seattle startup Evrnu is solving the textile waste problem by producing regenerated cellulose fiber from worn and discarded garments. In a partnership with Levi Strauss & Co., Evrnu is creating the world’s first jean that uses discarded cotton T-shirts and a small amount of virgin cotton. Evrnu’s technology is a patent-pending chemical process that purifies waste cotton, dissolves it and extrudes it as a pristine new fiber.

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