Five years ago, Tyler Merrick came up with an idea for customers to give back to the environment just by buying a pack of gum. Project 7 was born -- for every pack sold, the company plants a tree.
Merrick was peddling the chewing gum at a trade show in New York City in 2011 when a Wal-Mart representative asked him to come to the company's headquarters. Wal-Mart executives liked his pitch and agreed to test the gum in a couple hundred stores.
It was a hit, and Wal-Mart started carrying the gum in 1,500 stores within a few months. Today, the gum is sold at all Wal-Mart stores nationwide.
Merrick says it's been huge for Project 7, which employs eight people. He said Project 7 has planted 2 million trees from its relationship with Wal-Mart. With the increased demand from Wal-Mart, Project 7 ramped up production, leading to an extra 100 manufacturing jobs at the factories that make the gum.
These 5 small businesses make their products in the U.S. and are committed to keeping things that way.