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Why buying B Corp helps us use our wallets as a force for good
The shiny green Colombian packet with its exotic toucan, or the smartly-dressed Brazilian coffee whispering a seductive promise of chocolate and caramel notes?
Welcome to the perilous world of a supermarket coffee aisle, enough to confound even the most ninja of baristas.
Even when narrowing my options down to ground, not beans, capsules or instant and Colombian, not Costa Rican, Guatemalan or Ethiopean, I still have to decide whether it's more important that my coffee is hand-roasted or sun-dried. Do I want strength 3 or 4? This Fairtrade one or that Fairtrade one? Do I want to spend £3.49 or can I stretch to £3.99?
And yet this charade is all basically predicated on what, to me at least, has always seemed an entirely nonsensical idea that we are all blessed with an innate capability to masterfully validate or lament the purchase we finally emerged from this minefield with.
Time for a different approach, perhaps?
Time to talk B Corp...
You may already buy B Corp without knowing it. If you've walked through the woods in a Patagonia pullover, curled up on the sofa with two scoops of Ben & Jerry's or poured boiling hot water over a Teapig bag during lockdown, you've bought B Corp.
Innocent, Brewdog, The Body Shop, Abel & Cole, Divine Chocolate and Cafédirect are all B Corps. Pura Aventura is a proud member of the B Corp club too - one of the first travel companies in the UK to certify, in case it ever comes up in a pub quiz. Many are household names, others are young startups, many more are small businesses at the heart of very local communities. As of today, there are nearly 4,000 B Corps, with combined revenues of around $80bn, scattered across 76 countries from Argentina to Zambia.
What is B Corp and 15 things to know about this global movement
What links us all?
The ideals of B Corp: Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
Or put more simply...
Best for the world
"B Corporations want to build a new sector of the economy in which the race to the top isn’t to be the best in the world but to be the best for the world."
- The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good
B Corp is the only certification to measure a company's entire social and environmental performance. It provides a way of making abstract and complex ideas like 'sustainability', 'inclusion' and 'diversity' concrete, measurable and actionable. In business lexicon, it should put them on the same elevated plateau as terms like profit and dividends.
That a company is measuring and reporting on these sorts of metrics tells you that they genuinely do care about such issues. That they are able to successfully recertify as B Corp every three years tells you that they are acting upon their good intentions and making a positive impact in the world.
For concious consumers, the B Corp badge creates an easy and indepedent way to support such companies.
There are thousands of brilliant businesses who are already doing B Corp-y things, but who are not yet B Corp. For one thing, the process takes time and energy and it's not easy to get in. Over 100,000 have taken the B Impact Assessment, yet fewer than 4,000 businesses have successfully certified. Equally, becoming certified doesn't make you better overnight - it's about recognising the considerable good you already do and committing to a journey to do even more. To learn, share and get better, together.
The more B Corps there are in the world, the more companies there are having to not just talk a good talk, but tie up their laces and walk a good walk. The more they do that, the little bit more sustainable, inclusive, diverse and equitable our planet becomes, one purchase at a time.
That's the power of our humble wallets. Voting for good business by buying from good businesses is just one way we could use them as a force for good. It may or may not help you get your shopping done a bit quicker, but it'll certainly make you feel good about it in the process and helps push the B Corp movement a little further along its journey.
Alone, my coffee grounds do little other than wake me up in the morning. But add them to the hiking boots you buy next week and the holiday you choose next month and we're on to a good thing.
Looking for the little B can make a huge difference.