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- B Corps are for-profit businesses that volunteer to be graded by the nonprofit B Lab each year to ensure they're meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.
- They're among the most impressive companies treating "good business" as an idea that includes both profit and purpose.
- To B Corps, sustainable business isn't charity, it's better business.
- Below, I've rounded up a few of the B Corps we love shopping at most, including Patagonia, Allbirds, and Eileen Fisher.
As history can attest, well-meaning government and nonprofits aren't enough on their own to fix every issue in society. And even with a little more time, it's unlikely they'll reveal themselves to be the silver bullets that single-handedly eradicate poverty, inequality, and infuse the workplace with jobs that make workers feel their lives have dignity and purpose.
For that caliber of change, we'll need to consider the importance of businesses. The economist Milton Friedman famously wrote in 1962 that "There is one and only one social responsibility of business…to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits." While that sentiment remains largely unchanged, there are companies willing to bet on a different conceptualization of "good business."
Perhaps most impressive of this group are B Corps — businesses that volunteer to be graded by the nonprofit B Lab each year to ensure they're meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
Companies that get awarded B Corp status have committed to using their business to work towards a more inclusive and sustainable economy. Together, the companies and their communities work to reduce inequality, lower poverty levels, and create a healthier environment, stronger communities, and jobs with purpose.
In short, B Corps leverage their resources to pay into a better world, creating a definition of success that includes commonwealth and positive impact as necessary aspects of sustainable consumerism. It's not charity, it's better business — and these companies and providing an example that moves the needle on "better practices" further from extra credit and closer to universal compliance.
Below, we've rounded up 14 companies we love to shop at that also happen to be certified B Corps. They make great stuff we love to buy, but they're also helping drive a global movement that uses business as a force for good.
Check out 14 brands we love to shop from that also happen to be B-Corps:
Shop Allbirds here
Allbirds are often referred to as the "world's most comfortable shoes" and we'd be inclined to agree. We also love that each collection seems to get even better at optimizing natural materials — without raising prices or diminishing quality.
Allbirds' classic sneakers and loungers are made from moisture-wicking, temperature-regulating, odor-resistant merino wool that is ZQ-certified (meaning it meets stringent standards for sustainable farming and animal welfare) and uses 60% less energy than synthetics. Their second collection was comprised of sneakers and skippers made from cooling, eco-friendly eucalyptus pulp. Both collections are ultra-comfortable, low-maintenance, made from sustainable materials, and cost $95 for a pair.
Later, the company released $35 flip-flops made from the first carbon-negative EVA foam ever developed. The foam is made from sugar cane rather than harmful petrochemicals, and it's not proprietary: Allbirds has openly encouraged its competitors to adopt the material in their own products.
Shop Patagonia here
Patagonia is a beloved outdoors company for many reasons — one of which is its superior products, and another of which is the environmental efforts that led to it being named a UN Champion of the Earth in 2019, the UN's top environmental honor, for its entrepreneurial vision.
You can read more on how Patagonia walks the walk here, but a few of our favorite examples include being the first California company to sign up for B certification in 2012, imposing an earth tax on itself, and giving 100% (yes, 100%) of their profits from Black Friday in the past directly to grassroots nonprofits working to protect air, water, and soil quality for future generations. Since 1985, the company has donated over $89 million to environmental work.
It also bucks corporate trends by not being afraid to get political. It's led boycotts (Outdoor Retailer trade show, 2017) and sued the United States government and President Donald Trump after the administration proposed reducing two national monuments by up to 85%.
Recently, the company revised its mission statement from "build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis" to the simpler, more urgent "we're in business to save our home planet."
Patagonia was also named to the B Lab list Best For The World in 2019, the list that ranks the top 10% of all B Corps.
Shop Cotopaxi here
Cotopaxi is an outdoors brand with social purpose built into its DNA. Its gear is superior (I count their 35L and 42L travel pack as among my all-time best finds). But, somehow, it's almost more exciting to talk about the work the company is doing outside of its retail line.
From its inception, Cotopaxi has been founded upon the idea that the interests of profit and people could not only coexist, but should and already do enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship.
The B Corp values can be found at all levels of operation. Employees spend 10% of their work time in their local communities, adventuring outdoors, or doing service. The company donates 2% of its yearly revenue to ending poverty by funding local organizations working on sustainable solutions. Cotopaxi also puts out a Repurposed Collection of limited-edition gear made out of scraps.
The company has also created a skills-based volunteering initiative that leverages the time and talent of employees to respond to community needs, such as a card-writing program that provides a paid 'first job' for refugees in Salt Lake City. The program provides youth with professional development, work experience, a competitive wage, and the opportunity to practice their English language skills. This is one company whose "Do Good" products actually feel authentic.
Cotopaxi was also named to the B Lab list Best For The World in 2019.
Shop Leesa here
Leesa is best-known for being one of the forerunners in the increasingly crowded direct-to-consumer mattress space. Its Leesa Mattress has 13,800+ five-star reviews, and two of the company's mattresses (Leesa and Hybrid) have been named best-in-category by both Business Insider and The Wirecutter. We're still working on a review of its latest mattress, the luxury Legend mattress, but testing is going well so far.
The company also has a strong social impact: giving one mattress for every ten sold and devoting resources to national and local organizations. Despite the startup's marked accomplishments in a crowded space, Leesa's Head of Social Impact, Jen-Ai Notman, told Business Insider the social mission would be likely to still rank as the overwhelming incentive for working at the company.
Overall, Leesa has donated more than 36,000 mattresses to those in need and makes a point to provide the opportunity for employees to feel invested in their own backyards with local volunteer opportunities.
Leesa was also named to the B Lab list Best For The World in 2019.
Frank And Oak
Shop Frank And Oak
Frank And Oak is a Canadian apparel company dedicated to making modern, high-quality essentials with sustainable materials and production methods.
The company has winter boots made from coffee waste, recycled rubber, and plant-dyed leather, as well as circular denim made from post-consumer waste in a way that uses 79% less energy, 50% fewer chemicals, and 95% less water than the standard.
In 2019, approximately 50% of the retailer's products were made with minimal-impact processes and materials. Its shipping boxes are 100% recycled and recyclable, and its bags are biodegradable. What's more, its Canadian stores were built with recycled materials.
It also keeps a lean supply of product on hand to avoid surplus, which makes nearly every collection limited-edition.
Shop Bombas here
Bombas is another company that was founded with the primary directive of giving back to the community, with its actual product idea coming second. But its product, Bombas socks, is still the best pair of socks we've ever tried — regardless of order.
Founders David Heath and Randy Goldberg told Business Insider the now cult-favorite company began as a way to address the fact that homeless shelters have a great shortage of sock donations. And after noticing that consumers didn't have a great option between high-end niche technical socks and a 6-pack at Target, Heath and Goldberg spent two years obsessively re-inventing the wheel to come up with their pair of Bombas socks: adding blister tabs, a reinforced footbed, targeted areas of tension, "stay-up technology," and contoured seaming like a Y-stitched heel to minimize bunching, sliding, and sticking.
Since 2013, the company has also donated more than 28,900,000 million items to homeless shelters thanks to its "buy one, give one" model for its socks and tees.
And the socks and clothes Bombas does donate have been designed in conjunction with their giving partners to cater specifically to the needs of its recipients, who may not have access to the luxury of putting on clean clothes every day. For instance, the socks come in darker colors to avoid visible wear and tear, added anti-microbial treatment to prevent odor or bacteria if they can't be washed as frequently, and reinforced seams for durability.
Shop Beautycounter here
Beautycounter, a skin care and makeup brand, has become synonymous with the clean beauty movement. Since its founding in 2013, the company has had what it calls The Never List — a laundry list of 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that are never used in its products, including the 1,400 banned or restricted by the EU. (The US bans just 30.)
It's also involved in advocacy for better, healthier legal regulation in the US and Canada.
Its makeup is solid, but it has some of the best skin care products around — and all blessedly sans harmful chemicals.
Beautycounter was also named to the B Lab list Best For The World in 2019.
Shop Tentree here
Tentree is an outdoor company that essentially thinks of itself as a forestry program that ended up selling clothes. For every product you buy, the company plants ten trees through thoughtful programs that not only reforest the earth but also help rebuild communities around sustainable local economies.
Since its inception, Tentree has planted over 35 million new trees on earth. By 2030, the company's goal is 1 billion.
The brand's clothes, while made from about 95% sustainable materials, mostly consist of comfy, unassuming sweatshirts, shirts, leggings, and other basic apparel sold at a reasonable price. They've also fostered a lively online community, and lay claim to the third most-liked Instagram post of all time.
United by Blue
Shop United by Blue here
United by Blue, an outdoor apparel and accessories brand, was founded first and foremost to preserve and protect the places in which explorers go to play. That means its top-notch gear comes hand-in-hand with conservation work. The company utilizes inventive, sustainable materials and removes one pound of trash from the world's oceans and waterways for every product sold. You can even join them in a cleanup.
We're particularly big fans of their jackets and socks that utilize bison down — a surprisingly sustainable material that packs a lot of warmth.
Shop Ethique here
Ethique is helping tackle plastic waste by developing solid bars made for beauty, body, and hair care needs.
Founded by a female biologist, the company formulates 30+ solid "beauty bars" for everything from shampoos to conditioners, moisturizers, self-tanners, and body washes, and they work well.
Every bar is vegan, sustainably sourced, naturally-derived, and comes in biodegradable packaging. They also last 2-5 times longer than bottled options since they're so concentrated (since about 70% of bottled shampoo is water), meaning you save money and contribute a smaller carbon footprint since you're ordering less frequently. To date, the company has prevented more than 3.3 million plastic bottles from being made and disposed of.
Ethique (French for "ethical") is certified climate-neutral, cruelty-free, and donates 2% of revenue or 20% of profit (whichever is highest) to charity.
In 2015, the company was recognized as New Zealand's most sustainable business with 'the Best in B' award. In its early stages, the company also attracted the highest number of female investors in PledgeMe history. (PedgeMe is New Zealand's crowdfunding platform.)
Shop Athleta here
San Francisco-based Athleta makes relatively affordable but premium performance clothing designed by women athletes, and it focuses most of its philanthropy on empowering girls and women.
Through the Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. program and Fair Trade U.S.A., the label supports programs impacting the lives of the majority-female workers that create its apparel and has run empowerment-focused campaigns such as "Power of She" in the past. The company also offers thousands of free fitness and wellness events each year, supporting an estimated 10,000 hours of employee volunteering in the community in 2017.
By 2020, the company has committed to a goal of 80% of its apparel being made with sustainable fibers (currently 60%), 10,000 female employees (currently 3,200+), 25% of products made using water-saving techniques (currently 4%), and 80% of its waste diverted from a landfill (currently 70%).
Shop UncommonGoods here
UncommonGoods is a marketplace of both creative craft-esque inventions like chocolate-coated waffle shots that make great gifts. The site feels like a clean, navigable Etsy with fewer products and a more distinct thesis: utilitarian, but "unique."
It's unusual to see a diverse aggregator like UncommonGoods as a B Corp (Etsy gave up the distinction in 2017), but the company has been one since 2007.
UncommonGoods works with its artists to use sustainable or recycled materials when possible, chooses environmentally friendlier packing materials, and prints its catalog on FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified and recycled paper. They also founded "Better to Give" that allows customers to choose a non-profit partner for the company to donate $1 to with every order.
For UncommonGoods, the "business for good" model is working, with the company growing steadily from 5 employees to over 200 year-round. As part of their approach to business, their lowest-paid hourly seasonal worker makes 100% more than minimum wage. They've also advocated for higher minimum wage and paid family leave in New York state and others.
Uncommon Goods was also named to the B Lab list Best For The World in 2019.
Shop MPOWERD here
NYC-based MPOWERD makes affordable, innovative products that help make clean energy accessible. Its best-known product is the Luci, an inflatable solar light. Particularly well-loved for their versatile applications for campers and hikers, MPOWERD is an increasingly recognizable name in the outdoors genre.
MPOWERD uses its lucrative sales in the developed world markets to power a tangible impact in the developing world— namely, the three billion people who live without access to electricity.
Its big sales drive down costs, and those savings are passed on to MPOWERD's clients in developing economies: "This allows anyone, no matter their circumstances, to own (or sell) our lights at prices they can actually afford."
Through this process and a myriad of others, the company delivers affordable, life-changing solar lights to off-the-grid communities around the world. It has strategic NGO partnerships in over 30 countries, emergency relief sales, and a customer-driven Give Luci program that encourages shoppers to purchase units for their global nonprofit partners.
Shop Eileen Fisher
Eileen Fisher has been a B-Corp since 2015, and has incorporated conscious practices into most of its supply chain — including "green initiatives" at its headquarters, stores, and distribution centers, along with volunteer work. The company has been involved in some meaningful policy engagement in the past, and it has designed a grant program that supports women involved in environmental justice.
Eileen Fisher was also named to the B Lab list of Best For The World in 2019.
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