Lots of businesses donate money to charity, but not many are owned by one. Hubbub Enterprise is one of the few. We launched in 2016 with the aim of taking some of the best ideas from our parent charity, Hubbub Foundation, and maximising their environmental impact and potential profit. That profit goes back to the charity, giving it more freedom to generate new ideas – and starting the cycle again.  

The product that started it all was the Ballot Bin: the world's first voting ashtray. It has been often imitated but never bettered, and now you can find it in 38 countries around the world, where it collects an estimated 10 million cigarette butts a year.  

Our customisable Ballot Bins ask some of the most important questions of our time

We often find ourselves explaining to our customers that we are for-profit - but we are also a non-profit! That's why we're proud to have certified as a B Corp, joining a global movement of businesses committed to making a difference, alongside some of our favourite companies (hi Patagonia! Over here, Divine Chocolate!).  

To become a B Corp you have to lay everything bare: they want to know how fair your wages are, where you get your electricity, how much of your spending stays in the local community, and much, much more! Our ‘designed to give’ business model was one of the areas where we scored highly in the B Corp assessment but happily, they also gave us lots of points for things like how we treat employees, deal with suppliers and manage our finances. There were also areas where we could still improve, which has given us ideas about how to have more impact in the future.  

Want to know more about B Corps? Check out this Hubbub Investigates vlog

So now we have joinea growing band of some of the world’s best-loved and most impactful businesses. But have we stuck to our original aims? Well, things don't always work out exactly as planned! After four years we've found that there are three main ways we can support Hubbub Foundation: 

1) Replicating and scaling

When it works, it really works. For example, as well as the Ballot Bin, Hubbub Enterprise has had great success with Plastic Fishing. We take school children and businesses out in London's Docklands on the world's first 99% recycled plastic boats, and since 2017 2,654 volunteers have collected more than 286KG of recyclable plastic from the waterways, and donated £17,000 to a local school. 

2) Pick'n'Mix

Instead of just building on a Hubbub Foundation campaign, sometimes we create new products and services that combine elements from lots of them. For example, we recently ran a five-week Live Savvy competition for hundreds of KPMG employees, drawing on the wealth of tips for sustainable living created by the charity. 

3) Campaign Delivery 

Sharing both an office and a set of values with the Foundation has proved to be exceptionally useful. Not only can Enterprise plan and deliver complex projects such as the trial of reusable coffee cups in Gatwick Airport, but when the Foundation gets busy we can help pick up the slack - and because we're all part of the same wider organisation we're far likelier to get it right than contractors ever could.  

It's often said that creating environmental change at the scale and speed needed to tackle the climate crisis requires everyone to get involved, and new approaches to business will have to be found. We’re not going to make the grandiose claim that the Hubbub model is the answer. But we hope that our experiment, and the success we're having, can inspire others to try similar things.

To stay informed with other developments, collaborations and opportunities at Hubbub, please sign up for our business e-bulletin here.