In this post, we explore what it means to be a B Corp and why they're so great.
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If you aren’t on the lookout for the B Corp logo in your daily life, it’s a great practice to start. Supporting B Corps with your purchases is a great way to reward companies that are committed to creating a better world for their customers.
What is a B Corp?
B Corp is short for “Beneficial Corporation” and are for-profit corporations that have recognized and responded to the need to keep their eyes on more than just shareholder profitability. They understand that having a healthy business for years to come is dependent on more than short-term profits and that to be a viable, growing entity, they need a healthy world to support them.
Like other sustainable certifications, a B Corp certification is a tangible way for a company to express its values and that it understands that success is a reflection of how well they are serving an entire community, including its employee. They also consider the health of the planet, which they’ll rely on for future business, as an important part of true success.
In a nutshell, Certified B Corporations are companies that have met the criteria to certify that they are responsibly managing their business and resources in a way that is sustainable into the future.
Who is in charge of B Corp certification?
The non-profit organization B Lab is the governing body of B Corp certification. B Lab was founded in 2006 with the goal of empowering a different type of corporation. On their site, they describe themselves as follows:
“B Lab is the nonprofit network transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet.”
Instead of seeing business as only the problem, B Lab considers the power of business to be a solution to the social and environmental challenges we face today. By making it easier for consumers to cut through greenwashing and find truly sustainable organizations, they make it easier for them to favor those organizations and help them grow.
With well over 6,000 Certified B Corporations listed on their site, it seems that B Lab is on its way to transforming the business culture.
What are the requirements of a B Corp?
B Lab has made it surprisingly easy for companies to get started on their journey to becoming a B Corp. On their site, they have something called the B Impact Assessment that any organization can take to understand how they’re doing on the metrics that influence their B Corp rating. B Lab specifies that the questions in the assessment relate to business governance, workers, community, the environment, and a business's customers.
Once the assessment is complete, the company completing it will receive their scores and will also see how they rate in comparison to the many other businesses who have gone through the assessment previously. Any company that scores 80 or above is eligible to continue in the qualification process to be a certified B Corporation.
The goal of the B Impact Assessment isn’t just to qualify B Corp businesses, however; it also serves as a tool for any corporation to improve its business practices. The results of the assessment give corporations concrete feedback on where they’re doing great and where they have room for improvement.
What is a Benefit Corp? What's the difference between a Benefit Corp and a B Corp?
The development of the Benefit Corporation came from many of the same fundamental desires as B Corp certification – primarily to make it easier for consumers to find responsible corporations. Despite their similarities, however, there are some key differences between what it means to be a Benefit Corp versus a B Corp.
One of the biggest differences is who is responsible for the oversight of each designation. While B Lab is responsible for the certification of B Corps, Benefit Corp status is managed by a local government. Because of this difference, Benefit Corp status is more limited. As of right now, it’s possible to be a Benefit Corp in the US, British Colombia, Canada, and a limited number of other locations. Because of this difference in jurisdiction, it is possible for a company to be both a Benefit Corp and a B Corp.
Where can I see a list of B Corporations?
For the most comprehensive list of B corporations, check out B Lab’s search tool. You can sort by the following key pillars to find the kind of company you are looking for: community, customers, environment, governance, and workers. There are also a number of filters to choose from including the size of the business (in employees), the ownership type, the industry, and whether the company has received a “Best of the World” designation from B Lab.
Since The Home Green focuses on sustainable home design, we’ve highlighted some of our favorite home goods companies that have earned B Corp status, below.
Sabai is an all-around great company that you should check out if you haven’t yet. They seem to show up on all of our lists for furniture sustainability and safety including for featuring GREENGUARD, OEKO-TEX®, and GOTS. With the addition of B Corp status to their credentials, this women-owned US-based company is proving that they care about a broad range of stakeholders including their employees.
Their products are built for longevity both in terms of quality and repairability. Through their online shop, customers can purchase replacement parts for their ever-popular Essential sofas including arms, legs, cushions, and slipcovers. Sabai also offers a buy-back program called Sabai Revive and will resell products that customer’s no longer need.
The materials that go into the products are just as thoughtful as the company itself. Wood is FSC-certified, and no toxic flame retardants are used in their furniture. They even utilize recycled materials in their recycled foam fill and velvet fabrics.
Goodee has a somewhat different business model versus many of the companies who apply for B Corp status. They are a marketplace which is great because it means you get a lot of variety, all within one socially and environmentally responsible organization.
Their products are built for longevity both in terms of quality and repairability. Through their online shop, customers can purchase replacement parts for their ever-popular Essential sofa including arms, legs, cushions, and slipcovers. Sabai also offers a buy-back program called Sabai Revive and will resell products that customer’s no longer need.
The materials that go into the products are just as thoughtful as the company itself. Wood is FSC-certified, and no toxic flame retardants are used in their furniture. They even utilize recycled materials in their recycled foam fill and fabrics like the recycled velvet made out of plastic bottles.
Savvy Rest is a great option for anyone looking for a new mattress. They genuinely care about the safety of the products that sell to the public and work hard to make sure they are free from toxic chemicals that could be harmful.
With that kind of sound business foundation, it’s great to see that they also offer more than mattresses and include sofas, ottomans, beds, and wood furniture among their products. And like their mattresses, each product has been thoughtfully crafted to consider both the needs of the purchaser as well as the planet.
Raven + Lily
The power of the B Corp manifested itself with my discovery of Raven + Lily. I wasn’t previously aware of this company, but while looking through the list of certified companies on the B Lab site, I came across them. They have a beautiful selection of bags and jewelry and also some wonderful items for the home. If you’re in the market for new towels, pillows, napkins, throw blankets, or wooden kitchen items, definitely check them out.
Yellow Leaf Hammocks
Just because the hammock is the best of leisurely living doesn’t mean that Yellow Leaf Hammocks takes the easy route as a business. The company built its business on empowering the people who make their products by paying them a fair wage. Their Certified B status means that they also have some eco-friendly chops, too.
The mattress industry is one that is challenged to be successful and sustainable. Thank goodness for Avocado, a new kind of mattress manufacturer. Since we all spend a significant amount of time each day sleeping, its comforting to know that there’s a place to buy mattresses that are certified to be safe.
With a B Corp certification, Avocado proves that they are not only safe to buy but responsible corporate citizens to their communities and employees, as well.
Nothing’s more beautiful than a clean home! Grove Collaborative is a B Corp certified home cleaning product supplier that makes it just a little bit more fun with products you can feel great about.
In addition to great products, great scents, and fun packaging Grove is focused on eliminating plastic from their business and explain their goals via their Beyond Plastic initiative. Grove is committed to being a solution to the plastic problem both through educating consumers about the serious downsides of our plastic-filled world and by offering solutions. Grove explains what they are doing to be a part of the solution as follows:
“Today, every Grove order is 100% plastic neutral. That means that if you receive any plastic in your order, we remove the exact same amount of plastic pollution from nature.”
Their products are available at some mass retailers like Target but their specialty is making it easy to stay stocked up by setting up customers on a subscription service. And if you are hesitant about your shipping carbon footprint, you can feel good knowing that shipments are carbon neutral and they prioritize using sustainable packaging.
What is a Certified B Corporation?
A Certified B Corporation is the same thing as a B Corp. It’s a for-profit company that has achieved a high level of the social and environmental standards required by B Lab to become certified as a more sustainable company.
What is the difference between American Sustainable Business Council and B Lab?
While both organizations have similar aims, to further the goals of sustainable business, they work toward these goals in different ways. B Lab is the non-profit that is responsible for qualifying organizations for B Corp status, and the American Sustainable Business Council focuses on influencing public policy and education to further sustainable business practices.
What is a triple bottom line sustainability approach?
When it comes to sustainable initiatives, you may hear about this idea of three key areas of focus. They are often summarized as a the triple bottom line (TBL) sustainability framework, a three-legged stool, or the “three Ps.” In all cases, the three areas revolved around prioritizing three aspects of business:
- People – Fair labor, diversity, inclusion, community engagement, and human rights come into play here.
- Planet – Within this pillar, the environmental impact of a business's practices are considered.
- Profit – This is the aspect of business that tends to overshadow the other two p’s in business. While a triple-bottom-line approach seeks to elevate the importance of people and the planet, it does not pretend that profit isn't also a crucial part of the equation. Instead, a sustainable business approach considers profit alongside people and the planet.
In general, the triple bottom line approach is a way of thinking about business and its impact on the world in a more balanced way than is often considered. It seeks to take a long-term approach to maintaining a healthy society well into the future versus only considering short-term profitability.
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