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WHY WE SHOULD ALL BE SUPPORTING B CORP BUSINESSES

Being bold? Being brave? Just in general being bloody good people? If you’re wondering what the B in B Corp stands for, I think it’s all of the above. It’s certainly anything but boring. B Corp is actually short for Certified B Corporation™). It shows that the company you’re shopping with (or supporting) has gone through rigorous social and environmental testing, and has proven to be exceptional at moving the planet or society forwards in some way. So what does that mean for us as shoppers?

The majority of us now want to shop more sustainably and positively; to shun fast fashion and support companies that in turn, support others — and this is exactly what B Corps do. We’re starting to see a real sea change, with everything from eBay sponsoring Love Island to the surge in upcycling, and it’s the Gen Z audience that care about it more than any other age group which looks promising for our future. Yet it’s not just our kids that are interested. A recent report revealed that 81% of people prefer to buy from sustainable sellers¹ and nearly six in 10 of us consider ourselves to be conscious consumers². So it’s not surprising that many of us want to go one step further — and that change we’re looking for can be found in B Corp businesses. Plus with London being the B Corp capital of the world, I’d go as far as to say that we’re experiencing a shopping revolution right here on our doorstep.

there is no planet b

Artwork by Karin Åkesson

An exciting time in retail ahead

Why do I think it’s exciting? Well because it goes way beyond just being sustainable or conscious. It means that every single part of an accredited business has been inspected and investigated by B Lab (the non-profit accrediting body) from every angle and shown that they are really trying incredibly hard consistently to pioneer better business practices, which makes the company better employers, better at supporting communities and better at creating a healthier planet. 

There are around 700 B Corp certified businesses in the UK, and more than 4,000 globally. It’s not about being non-profit (actually quite the opposite). It’s about actively using business for good and balancing profit with purpose — and it’s entrepreneurs that are leading the way; those with the vision and determination to want to change things. 

It’s not easy though. Jamie Oliver said it’s like having someone search through your knicker drawer, it’s that intrusive. And having gone through it ourselves at Holly & Co (and passed, I’m proud to say!), I can confirm he’s quite right. It can take years to get your certificate and many times of trying before you succeed. Plus then you need to start afresh annually, too. Yet it is absolutely worth it and here’s why.

The difference your money can make

You know that with every pound you spend with a B Corp company, you are literally changing the world for the better and voting with your money for the kind of society you want to live in — one with purpose, where people make an effort to make things better, not just leaving it up to others.

Cake pops by Mrs P

B Corp cake pops, by Mrs P’s Cakes & Pops

The best part is that we can rely on these companies to be trustworthy. There’s no green washing or rainbow washing (or any other kind of washing that’s not organic or planet-friendly for that matter). Just pride. You can feel truly confident that that business is giving back to the planet, environment, community or workforce. According to B Corp UK, B Corps are twice as likely to use 100% renewable energy and 2.5 times more likely to be carbon neutral than ordinary businesses. Add to this that they are also more likely to be supporting diversity, equity and inclusion, and be transparent in their practices, for example, and you can see why it’s incredibly attractive to us consumers. 

Toms (the shoe brand) is the third most popular B Corp business across 78 countries, and it’s searched for a whopping 14.9 million times every year. Their mission is to donate a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes purchased which really makes you want to support them. Ben & Jerry’s are up there at no.7 (not just eco-friendly but are known for speaking out to bring positive change around societal and race-related issues too) and Vestiaire Collective (the online marketplace for second-hand designer clothes and accessories) is at no.12. So it’s clear to see that you don’t need to be a hard-nosed corporate person to succeed. Being kind and thinking of the planet isn’t just common sense but also good business sense. 

Toms One for One

One for One ®, by Toms

How B Corps are the new luxe

As we become more conscious and less shallow in our shopping habits (let’s tell it like it is!), it’s no longer very cool to lust after big name brands with empty promises. Having B Corp products in our homes speaks volumes about the kind of companies we back and the kind of people we are. Rather than paying money that’s making others rich, we’re starting to realise we should instead share our hard-earned cash with those that make our futures richer instead, so that we all share the benefits. It’s the kind of legacy I know I’m keen to leave behind for the next generation, and I’m sure you are too. 

Some inspiration of B Corps you can try

I kind of like the idea of becoming a B Corp person not just a B Corp business — so that if the same kind of checks were done on my home and my spending, would I pass? Not yet probably, but it’s my goal. I’ve made a real effort to make eco-swaps (you can read about the 10 household ones I tried), but I also strive to shop with social enterprises like Revere the Residence who I visited on our Campaign Shop Independent trail and ARTHOUSE Unlimited — a community of artists living with complex neurodiverse and physical support needs. And there are lots of B Corps you can try, too. How about these?

Proper snacks
Not many snacks could interfere with my Monster Munch addiction but these are incredible. They’ve been accredited since 2016 for everything from giving equal parental leave to donating 200,000 packets to those without food. They also make the only Fair Trade sweet popcorn out there.

Who gives a crap
You get to smile every time you use ‘Who gives a crap?’ toilet roll in your bathroom because as well as it being 100% recycled and thoughtfully packaged, the profits are used to buy toilets for the 40% of the population who don’t have them, saving millions of lives a year. 

DASH water
My favourite drink (well, non-alcoholic anyway!). They make this deliciousness with wonky fruit that others say no to and by 2024, will have saved 2,600 tonnes of it.

Patagonia
Patagonia makes clothes to last for generations and have been certified since 2011 (and if you’ve listened to my podcast with Howies and Do Leactures founder, David Hieatt, he has a rather wonderful story about them). 

Teapigs
The ethical, sustainable teabag brand that scored especially high for transparency. They use plastic-free packaging and make very tasty tea. 

Pip & Nut
The ‘Queen of Nut Butter’ Pippa makes hers without any nasty palm oil in it and you can hear how she took her brand from the kitchen table to being a household name on my Conversations of Inspiration podcast.

Krī skincare
This is a skincare brand that uses only vegan, cruelty-free, biodegradable ingredients, and few of them at that. They don’t believe in putting 20+ items in for the sake of it, just a few hero ones that work. 

Graze
Lovely, healthy snacks delivered straight to your door (all created in a factory using 100% carbon neutral energy and zero waste goes to landfill, don’t you know).

There are so many forward-thinking products and services to try and the difference we can make through a few small changes to our habits is immense.

How to become a B Corp

If you’re a founder reading this and want to become a B Corp, here’s how it works. As long as you’re operating for profit in a competitive market and have been running for at least a year, you can apply. You’ll need to fill out an initial assessment and The B Lab team will check you out. Then you’ll need to keep honing your score until you pass this part. Next up is writing your commitment into your Articles of Association and governing documents, and submitting them to Companies House. You’ll then have a full review and this process is repeated until you get the good news that you’ve passed. 

Becoming a B Corp is a real badge of honour and a sign to the world that you’re leading the way for other businesses to follow. It shows that you are actively part of the change to create a more positive planet and society for us to all live in and I for one, am insanely proud that Holly & Co has succeeded. Now all we need to do is shop and support our Queen Bs as the power to change the world is in our hands. It’s an exciting time in retail. Let’s embrace it. 

Interested in finding out more about how your shopping can change the world? Read all about it here

Sources

  1. Recycling lives report on sustainable business 
  2. Biz Journals report on conscious shoppers

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