It is also the perfect time for companies to highlight their commitment to combat climate change and to introduce products that generate less waste or are produced with less energy.
It makes sense: Consumers want to reward businesses that do good. A recent study conducted by Porter Novelli/Cone found that 72 percent of consumers want to buy from companies that share their values and that 86% are more likely to purchase from a brand-driven company. Politically and socially conscious, consumers expect the brands they support to back up platitudes with action.
But it’s not always easy to tell if the commitments and products touted during Earth Day are greenwashing, or exaggerate a company’s commitment to the environment. An ongoing benchmarking study by Engage is finding that a good 40% of Americans do not know where to find socially responsible products and services. And a recent study from the consumer protection group ICEPN found that up to 40% of green claims may mislead or overstate their impact on the environment.
With that in mind, for Earth Day 2021, TBGA would like to honor four genuinely purpose-led companies that consistently “do good” and have solidly integrated sustainability into their business models.
Vital Farms made ethical food production of eggs, butter, and ghee scalable while improving animal welfare and lowering environmental impact compared to corporate farming practices. Original Vital Farm founders, Matt O’Hayer and Catherine Stewart, created a network of like-minded farmers who shared their commitment to the humane treatment of animals. Today, over 200 family farms have joined to make the company the leading producer of pasture-raised eggs in the U.S.
Pasture-raising and the welfare of the animals are core to their business model. Vital Farms requires its partner farmers to allocate at least 108 square feet per hen. Similarly, pasture-raised cows live in small herds and, weather permitting, freely graze open pastures. This practice is not only humane, but it gives the pastures time to rejuvenate naturally, without pesticides or herbicides.
Dr. Bronner’s engrained sustainability “to protect Spaceship Earth” into its “Cosmic Principles.” Since its founding by its namesake in 1948, Dr. Bronner’s soap has only been made with fully biodegradable, natural ingredients. In 2003, it was the largest personal care company certified under USDA’s National Organic Program. It pioneered 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.
More recently, Dr. Bronner’s set an audacious goal for its full supply chain: zero-waste by 2025. You can read about how it’s progressing towards its goal in its latest sustainability report. Here, the company proudly details its responsible packaging, raw materials sourcing, renewable energy systems, and efficient transportation. The company is also pushing for regenerative organic practices. Dr. Bronner’s works with local farmers who use complementary plantings to increase their crops’ yield and enrich the soil. To help these farmers, the company founded the Sun + Earth Certification program to expand the market for regenerative organic agriculture.
Most important is the transparency with which the company operates. You can see how much the company invests its net sales against the backdrop of its iconic label in its sustainability report.
Fashion may not be the first industry that pops into mind when thinking about sustainability. However, the industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions and uses 26.4 trillion gallons of water every year. (Then consider the dangerous chemicals injected into the water during textile production.) After production, 87% of the total fiber input used for clothing is incinerated or disposed of in landfills, and an estimated $120 billion of unused fabric, or deadstock, sits in warehouses each year.
Queen of Raw is attacking this problem through its deadstock and sustainable material marketplace. Its online platform matches deadstock with factories, retailers, designers, and other buyers who want to use it. And they recently developed technology that utilizes blockchain and machine learning to minimize waste throughout their supply chains in real-time.
Borobabi was created to tackle the fashion waste from a different perspective: children’s clothing. As children grow, so do the piles of clothes that no longer fit. Parents do their best to donate outgrown items, but you may have an idea where most of these clothes go: landfills or incinerators. As an alternative, Borobabi is an online circular retailer that focuses on renting maternity and children’s clothing. It sells high-quality clothing that cycles through multiple families. Their clothing designers use ethical labor and all-natural raw materials like cotton, wool, and linen. And at each garment’s end-of-life, the company ensures that it is fully recycled and composted.
Next week, I will be moderating a panel on the good (and the bad) of corporate social responsibility. I will be in conversation with Christina Volgyesi, Vice President of Marketing at Dr. Bronner’s; Vanessa C. Burbano, Assistant Professor of Management; and Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, to discuss the research and how companies can thrive by leading with their values.
We will talk about how corporate values can also help align employees, products, and supply chains. And how to extend those values into market benefits to create a positive customer experience, increases marketing efficiency, and boost sales.