What's a B Corp? A Life-Changing Resource to Help You Shop More Responsibly

Updated: Apr 9

Whenever I share resources or information on topics related to sustainable and ethical purchasing, I always seem to have friends or family members reaching out for more details on how to find particular ethical vendors in niche areas.

This post has been a long time coming, but will seriously change your life! I'm so excited to share the beauty of B Corps with those of you who've never heard about them before, or for those of you hoping to learn more!

Due to my deep interest in ethical and sustainable fashion, at the end of my degree, I was lucky enough to get placed for my practicum with my mentor, and now friend, Claire Theaker-Brown.

Not only is Claire, the Country Coordinator for Fashion Revolution, but she's also the CEO and Founder of Unbelts. Unbelts is an ethical accessory brand originally founded in Shanghai, China, but now operating out of Edmonton, Alberta that started its line of goods in stretchy, low-bulk belts.

Recently, the company has expanded into face masks. But these face masks weren't just slapped together and made with the intention to only boost sales – even though they did. Like everything Unbelts does, the face masks were researched, fit tested, and intentionally designed to protect individuals and the community at large.

This synchronous and thoughtful expansion exemplifies the epitome of B Corp brands. So, let's dive into why that's the case.

Claire was the one who first introduced me to the concept of B Corps – Unbelts is a Certified B Corp too – in case you haven't connected the dots yet.

What's a B Corp though? Why should you care about them? And how can you start seeking them out? Well, my friend, allow me to uncover all that juicy goodness for you, right here, right now...

What in Sam’s Hell is a B Corp?

I don’t think it’s any secret that capitalism works, and it works well. It allows for innovation, it’s efficient, it prevents large bureaucratic governments from forming, etc. etc.

That still doesn’t mean capitalism doesn’t come with its list of cons. Most notably; companies gaining monopolies and exploiting consumers, firms with monopsony power paying lower wages, mass inequality, and externalities damaging the environment – Just to name a few.

If anything, the Cornovirus pandemic has really shed light on just how inefficient capitalism can be when it comes to the mass inequality it's created... looking at you Bezos.

I think most people have known about this juxtaposition for some time now… Luckily, back in 2006, in walked a non-profit organization that came in, guns a-blazin’ ready to switch things up.

The non-profit’s name is B-Lab, established out of Berwyn, Pennsylvania with the intention of “harnessing the power of business to help address society’s greatest challenges."

In other words, “if you can’t beat em, join em”, is essentially B-Lab’s motto. The organization decided that leveraging the business community to be part of the solution to global problems like wealth inequality, climate change, and social unrest was the best solution.

They focus on using business as a force for good.

“Our vision is of an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economic system for all people and the planet. [...] B Lab works to create a viable alternative to an ecosystem that is failing to create these solutions”

So how exactly is this vision accomplished?

Through the formation of the B Corporation Certification Program.

This program was created as a way to verify credible leaders in the business community. Certified B Corps must achieve a minimum verified score on the B Impact Assessmenta rigorous assessment of a company’s impact on its workers, customers, community, and environment.

Companies must also get re-certified every 3 years. When first applying for certification, it’s not uncommon for the application process to take around 6 months for a small to medium-sized business – the process is that vigorous and thorough.

To certify a B Corp, a company must achieve a minimum verified score of 80 points on the B Impact Assessment. The assessment asks questions about how a company's day-to-day operations create a positive impact on its workers, community, and environment. Companies also have to submit confidential documentation to validate their responses.

Some big B Corps you may already know but didn’t even realize were B Corps include:

  • Patagonia

  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

  • AllBirds

  • Frank & Oak

  • The Body Shop

  • Eileen Fisher

I know, awesome! Currently, 3,608 companies are certified across 74 different countries and 150 industries! 🎉

Meaning, we’ve got options people! Which leads me to my next point...

How to find a B Corp

You are in luck, friends, because B-Lab has made it extremely easy for you to track down businesses in different industries that are using their platform as a force for good. Can I get an amen?

Spot the logo

The first, and easiest way to spot a B Corp when you’re out shopping is to look for their stamp. Typically, Certified B Corps will have the B Corp logo stamped on their packaging. It looks just like this:

Some cool examples of where you might spot this next when out at the grocery store:

When *mindfully* stocking up on Toilet Paper, Hand Sanitizer & Hand Soap

TP, hand sanitizer, and hand soap are 2020's most coveted products in North America, so I wanted to be sure to include B Corp certified products in this category for you. Rebel Green is a line of natural cleaning products that is dedicated to providing customers a safer choice both inside the home and in the environment. Motivated by the knowledge that the products we choose to clean our homes have a ripple effect on the world, Rebel Green is committed to creating a product line that is sustainable, natural and crafted with concern for the planet.

You can find Rebel Green products at Safeways, Targets, SuperValu stores and even Amazon (more on making the choice to shop on Amazon but choosing to purchase a B Corp certified product from the site instead below). Check the back of these products and you should be able to spot the B Corp logo. See my Righteous Gelato example below for the B Corp logo on a product label in the flesh.

When Your Sweet Tooth Hits

Righteous Gelato, (formally known as Fiasco Gelato) is a gelato maker out of Calgary, Alberta that currently sells its gelato out of most of Canada’s major grocers (Safeway, Loblaws, etc). And yup, you guessed it, B Corp Certified!

See the B Corporation Certified logo at the bottom right there? That's what to keep your eye out for people! Also, if you haven't tried this gelato yet... I'm a little sad for you.

This truly doesn't even scrape the surface on the plethora of B Corps out there. Trust me, there are literally thousands to be found. A good way to start is by spotting the label when you're out shopping. The next best way to find a B Corp...

The handy-dandy B Corp Directory!

The B Corp Directory is your new best friend! I know a lot of us are still having a very hard time turning away from the convenience of Amazon, particularly during these turbulent times.

If you have an idea for a gift you want to purchase someone and feel safer making that purchase online right now, I highly recommend visiting the B Corp Directory first.

Hot tip: A lot of these companies still have their products on Amazon to remain competitive, so if you're a Prime Member who can't turn away from fast shipping just yet, I still recommend taking this extra step.

Simply search the product category you're looking for, for example "Electronics" – you can even narrow this down to country, province, or city and a list of Certified companies will appear for you.

You can also perform Geographical searches and narrow it down to your local city to see how many B Corps exist in your area.

Fun fact, Edmonton has 7 Certified B Corps and Alberta has 22! Additionally, you can search for a specific B Corp you're looking to get a bit more insight on in the search bar at the top where it says "Search Certified B Corp" to learn more about their B Corp score.

For example, typing in "Allbirds" in the directory yields the following results:

This shows the overall score Allbirds received on their most recent evaluation. Remember, to become certified, companies must score a minimum of 80 points. The score above compares Allbirds against all businesses that have completed the B Impact Assessment.

Further, the site breaks down how the company scored in each category;

All of these scores add up to an overall score of 89.4 for Allbirds. You're also shown how they scored on their previous Impact Assessment.

It's amazing to see that Allbirds overall score has improve by 7.2 points since their previous evaluation, meaning they're committing to continually improving their business practices to ensure they're making a valuable impact on the world.

Gold star for you Allbirds 👏 and all the other B Corps out there fighting the good fight!

Alright, well this sums up your introduction to B Corps. I hope this inspires you to shop a little more mindfully. You'll be super surprised to see how many companies in your local community are Certified B Corps, so go ahead and have a little bit of fun with that Directory and perform a geographical search – it will make you proud!

I'll leave you with one important reminder – remember, as consumers, we vote with our dollars, and I completely understand the convenience and economic advantages of shopping for something cheap and convenient. Keep in mind, though; there are still incredible organizations out there fighting to make things better so, let's try to support them when we can!

It doesn't have to be all the time, but making a conscious effort to try and support these brands when you can goes a long way. It's all about progress over perfection. Knowledge is power and you've got this!

Happy shopping! 🛍

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