INCREASING SUSTAINABILITY WHILE IMPACTING LIVES: Costco partners with World Vision to serve the world


In just one year, the U.S. added 290 million tons of waste to our bulging landfills. For companies like Costco, that simply isn’t acceptable. 

With hundreds of locations worldwide, Costco’s membership warehouse club provides a wide selection of merchandise plus specialty departments and exclusive member services. Costco is a recognized retail leader, dedicated to quality in every area and respected for outstanding business ethics. The company’s sustainability commitment is an important part of a corporate goal of increasing their environmental and social responsibility. To Costco, sustainability means “remaining a profitable business while doing the right thing.” What is “the right thing”? One way of approaching this question is found in Costco’s key principles for sustainability: “for Costco to thrive, the world needs to thrive.”

“The sustainability commitment,” CEO Craig Jelinek describes, “explains the efforts and steps we are taking to achieve our global sustainability goals. With nearly 850 warehouses around the world, we understand the impact we have on environmental and sustainability issues globally … [and] we believe we can play a positive role in helping the world face these most pressing issues. While we see progress in many areas, we are committed to continuous improvement across all elements of our business: people and communities, operations and merchandise.”

The generosity of Costco donations shows that commitment in action. Not only are people being equipped to thrive, but it’s also better for the earth. 

In 2022, Costco donated 103,139 pallets of valuable and much-needed product valued at over $156 million benefiting millions of people in 32 countries—including the U.S. Because of their priority on sustainability and helping our world thrive, Costco has birthed a new life cycle for their products: When members return first-quality, undamaged merchandise, these products are then shipped to a Costco return center. Once there, Costco selects products to donate, which are given to partners like World Vision, who in turn send the goods to people in critical areas of need—both locally and globally. Through this partnership, over 1 million tons of product were kept out of landfills so they could get into the hands of people in need.

People like the Lopez family in California, who were expecting a child—and facing some hard decisions. Should they buy cleaning supplies during the pandemic or use their money on baby products? When buying food, which household items could they do without? Items donated by Costco answered many of these questions for the Lopezes. They received cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products, and baby food. It was a huge relief—and a boost of confidence for this growing family.

Donated Costco products helped people outside the U.S., too. In Mali, World Vision distributed Costco balance bikes to young children, helping meet both social and emotional needs. Toys and playtime are critical for a child’s development. And when you’re living in poverty, having something of your very own to play with becomes even more important. It can give dignity and self-esteem. In 2022 alone, Costco donated over 6,000 bicycles along with hundreds of pallets of diapers to World Vision.

Together, World Vision and Costco are empowering vulnerable communities around the world. And they’re proving the wisdom of the company’s sustainability model—you can be profitable and do the right thing. Costco is showing how.