Hello one and all,
I hope you've had a good week.
Today we welcome Baqari, Irina, Percy, Cindy, Shan, Jacqueline, Sarah-Jayne, Anna, Betty, Sharyn, Jackie, J., Trudy, Bojana, Ricky, Alexandra, Jyllian, Vanessa, Callie, Sarika, Mynampati, Alexandra, Jin, Veronique, Donna, and Delphine - thank you for joining us.
Each Sunday I write about something in the spirit of sustainability... and I do my best to make it relatively entertaining.
Today I'll be talking about B Corps, but you can find a range of topics in our newsletter archive. There are articles on the newest materials on the market, in others I talk about my vision for LUXTRA, or you can even get to know our first employee, Chloé.
Have you noticed any new B Corps recently?
Before we dive in, I should make sure we all understand what a B Corp even is.
According to the highly regarded website Popsugar, being a B Corp is "the hardest sustainable certification to achieve". The "B Corp" is a new(ish) type of company structure that mandates a balance of profit, people and planet. The independent, non-profit B Lab is in charge of the certification process.
For a company to certify as a B Corp, it needs to prove that it meets high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. Personally, I like to describe B Corps as outwardly demonstrating that they walk the walk (and don't just talk the talk) when it comes to ethics and sustainability.
Here are a few B Corps that you may already know:
Ben and Jerry's
Who Gives A Crap
The Body Shop
oh... and LUXTRA 😊
This week I was astonished to learn that there's a 15 month backlog in the certification process to become a B Corp (in the UK at least). When LUXTRA certified, it was a matter of weeks.
I mentioned this fact in a subsequent conversation and almost choked on my coffee when a Gen Z-er said that companies just use these types of certifications as a box checking exercise (and she was referring to B Corps in particular). Companies certify to "go through the motions", they use it as a marketing device.
I admit I was quite taken a-back.
Really, I asked her? Feeling a tad naïve...
A deft nod of the head.
I've been thinking about this "check box" comment all week, and it's taken me down a few rabbit holes.
The first, which alludes to the title of this newsletter, is the idea of a tipping point, as explored by Malcom Gladwell in his book of the same name. In a nutshell, a "tipping point" arises in society when an outlying idea reaches critical mass, and "all of a sudden" becomes the norm. I don't know about you, but every week I learn about a new (often large) company that has just become a B Corp. I find myself flitting between thoughts of "oh wow, another one!!" and niggling doubts of "oh,really, just how did they wangle that?"
The second rabbit hole arose when I started researching articles on the topic of "B Corps and greenwashing". There are some valid points out there. A blog post on Recycled & Renewed, for example, highlights the fact that a B Corp's actual positive impact is relatively obscure. You see, it's technically not impossible for a company to continue "bad habits" so long as they've improved on some other ones. An academic paper touches on the fact that B Corp companies overwhelmingly do better in improving the social welfare of people in its supply chain (which is fantastic, don't get me wrong!), but they under-perform when it comes to improving their environmental impact.
In a way it's easy for a company making oodles of money to pay employees a few pounds / dollars / yen more, than it is for them to take a good hard look at the fact that their business models are resource intensive. To be honest it's something that keeps me awake at night myself.... LUXTRA is no perfect business.
What are your impressions? What do you think? As I'm sure you know by now, I really love to hear what you have to say on these difficult topics. Simply hit reply and let me know. Your email will land directly in my inbox.
Keep well and keep a-pondering!
LUXTRA Founder | Uncertain Optimist | Proud B Corp-er (I think?!?!)