Shop Your Way to a Better World with B Corps


$127.7 billion worth of goods produced by the fashion industry are potentially created through slave labor, according to the Global Slavery Index. The fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter, behind oil production, states the documentary film, The True Cost. Beading and sequins could be a sign that a child has worked on your garment, asserts British journalist Lucy Siegle, in her book, To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World?

Facts like this are enough to make anyone question the fashion choices they have made in the past. But how can you make sure that the clothes you purchase aren’t contributing to the proliferation of slavery or the destruction of the planet? B Lab has done the research for you and has certified over 2,600 B corporations worldwide.

According to their website:

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...The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose.

In order to be certified as a B Corp, companies must undergo an assessment of their impact on four areas of evaluation: workers, customers, community and environment. They must also require their board of directors to balance profit and purpose in their legal governing documents. This assessment must be repeated every two years.

B Lab (the “b” stands for “beneficial”) is a non-profit organization headquartered in Pennsylvania. It advocates for an economy driven by for-profit businesses that focus on social justice and conservation. Founded in 2006, B Lab now has offices in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a partnership with Sistema B in Latin America.

B corps include 150 industries, ranging from accounting to waste management. The fashion industry has multiple representatives on this list. Raven + Lily is one such company. Based in Austin, Texas, Raven + Lily features handbags, apparel and home goods created by female artisans from around the world. It was founded for the purpose of creating a marketplace for women to sell their work and earn a fair wage in safe conditions globally.

There can be a lot of ‘cause washing’ out there. Being a B-corps has provided reassurance to our customers.
— Cameron Crake, Director of Global Production for Raven + Lily

Encircled is a Canadian company that markets versatile clothing while maintaining a high ethical standard. Realizing that women own far more clothing than they actually wear, founder Kristi Soomer wanted to focus on basics that can be used to build a capsule wardrobe. The company’s dedication to transparency, fair labor practices and conservation led to B Lab certification this year.

We are proud to join them (B corps) in redefining success in business so that one day everyone uses business as a force for good. Building a sustainable business is more than just being eco-friendly. It’s ensuring your business practices are financially feasible so that you can continue to build a business for years to come.
— Kristi Soomer, founder of Encircled

Another B Lab certified company is Netherlands-based Mud Jeans. Not only does Mud Jeans carefully select manufacturers based on their ethical standards, but they also offer the unique option of leasing your jeans rather than buying them. For a monthly fee, you can wear your jeans for one year. After that, you can choose to keep them or exchange them for a new pair. The returned jeans are either sold as “vintage” or recycled into new denim.

With our jeans being made of organic and recycled denim, you’re crafting the way towards a circular economy. That is why our main objective is to use as much post-consumer recycled cotton as possible. At this point our jeans consist of 23% and some even 40% post-consumer recycled cotton.

Spain’s Ecoalf sells apparel, shoes and bags made entirely from recycled materials. The Ecoalf Foundation has also launched Upcycling the Oceans. This project is dedicated to recovering and recycling ocean waste.

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Ecoalf arose in 2009 from my frustration with the excessive use of the world’s natural resources and the amount of waste produced by industrialized countries. Ecoalf symbolizes what I believe the fabrics and products of the new generations should be, a new fashion/lifestyle brand that integrates breakthrough technology to create clothing and accessories made entirely from recycled materials with the same quality, design and technical properties as the best non-recycled products.
— Javier Goyenech, President & Founder of Ecoalf

These are just a few of the fashion brands that are B corporations. Sportswear, formal wear, jewelry, shoes — there is no longer any reason why you can’t be on the cutting edge of fashion and, at the same time, feel good about how you have spent your hard-earned money. B Lab has done the work. All you have to do is check out their list of certified corporations. You can search alphabetically, by industry, by country, by state or by city, so what are you waiting for? Shop your way to a better world!

For those of you who want to do more than shop, B Lab has a job board where you can potentially find a career that matches your ethical philosophy.

Whether you are working, shopping or doing research, B Lab can help you make decisions that are good for both you and the rest of the world.

About the Author

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Jeanette Bouchie is an adult services librarian at the Vigo County Public Library, where she has worked for 18 years. She is also a freelance writer and is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Dressember to increase awareness of human trafficking. She also enjoys reading, tap dancing, traveling, getting dressed up, and attending the occasional comic con.

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