Today, wherever you go, you will see many companies using words like green, sustainable, eco, and environmentally friendly, but how can you really be sure of the environmental effect that the company has? It’s not simple to measure, and for many years there was not been a blueprint or a set standard for how a company should operate to make as little environmental impact as possible. But created in 2007 is the B Corp certification that companies can get, after a close examination, to prove that their goal is to provide a good product or service, that also is backed by ethical and sustainable action.
Founded in 2006 in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, B Lab is a nonprofit that created the B Corp certification, they are redefining the meaning of success to be something that makes the world a better place, instead of just the pursuit of money. B Lab is a third party that takes companies through a rigorous process to certify them as a socially and environmentally conscious company.
B Lab investigates and certifies organizations who voluntarily meet certain standards of transparency, accountability, sustainability, and performance, with the aim to create value for society. This value is to be seen by the general public and not just the people invested in the company.
Other third party certifications
B Lab can be compared to Fair Trade for coffee or UL listed for electronics, it’s a voluntary certification that helps customers to have confidence that there is a third party verifying the claims of the company. While the effects of a company can initially be more subtle than with failed electronics, they can be much more long-lasting as seen with many environmental Super Fund Sites. The companies that want the B Corp Certification will have to prove and document their actions and go through what can be a lengthy process of questioning and research.
Companies using keywords to sway customer emotion to buy their product because “it is green” or it is “sustainably sourced” will now have more to prove if they want to receive the B Corp certification. It is good for the companies that actually are producing good ethically made products because of the increased confidence of buyers when seeing the B Corp certification. 3,821 companies in 74 countries are certified at the time of writing with over 10,000 companies in the process of becoming certified.
The bar is being raised
This certification process is started with an online assessment, where 200 as a perfect score, and 80 as a passing grade to continue with the process. Every company is different and the review process takes all factors into perspective, and manufacturing has different requirements than a company that sells products. Companies are required to recertify every 3 years to maintain good standing as a B Corp certified. You can search the companies on B Corps website, or click the B Corps logo on a website that you see it, and you will be shown the company details and their current and past scores.
B Lab operates as a non-profit and is very transparent with their methods and how they work. In a “who will watch the watchmen” effort, a council was set up to provide input and recommendations to B Lab. The ideas are taken and B Lab updates their method and criteria every two years to provide the best experience for the companies and consumers using the certification to guide their spending.
The certification does not just include the certification process as B Lab works with the companies to find and implement better methods and practices, to become more efficient and make a more positive impact on customers, employees and the world. Companies like Patagonia helped to form some of the B Lab’s first policies, using their experience in the industry for many years to guide the change that we would like to see in the world.
A few examples of B Corp certified Companies.
Some of these companies also strive to create a circular economy by taking back the used products at the end of their useful lives, and recycling them into new products to be sold again.
Tentree, who sells active and outdoor clothing, works with tree planters around the world to plant, well, ten trees for each purchase made. And to go along with their tree theme, they make apparel and bags with The Lorax, who “speaks for the trees”.
Newly makes beautiful home good from 100% recycled and repurposed glass, plastic, wood and acrylic. Started by five friends in 2016, with the goal to make simple but beautiful glassware, cutting boards, and blankets from sustainable sources. In 2019 they became a certified B Corp company and they are proud of that fact, as they should be.
And the last one I will showcase here is Allbirds, founded in New Zeeland, they use wool from the local sheep, recycled plastic bottles and recycled cardboard to make and ship their lightweight shoes. They accept and recycle lightly used shoes of any brand though their SolesforSouls program, and send them to provide disaster relief and to those in poverty. Allbirds pays for the shipping from you and to the people in need.
Support companies with the same mindset as you have
So when you are looking at something that claims to be sustainable and green, look for the B Corp logo, and if they have it, that’s a good sign. While I still never recommend just taking their word for it, click the B Corps logo, to see the details, because like all things I’m sure there will be those who will steal the logo and put it on their website and claim to be the real deal. There will still be many companies that are selling good products without the certification, but hopefully now you have a better idea what is behind the B Corp logo!
If you found this interesting, you probably have a friend that might enjoy it too. Thanks for reading and stay curious!