Health conscious consumers looking for newer and better products to improve their physical well-being are often looking beyond the ingredients on a label to find out if the companies they are supporting also support important social causes. Environmental issues such as global warming, sustainability and recycling are often cited by these customers, who also advocate for human rights issues, public transparency and fair compensation for workers. [This article, “Ethical Businesses Strive To Do Good While Doing Well” was originally published in HealthXWire]
In a marketplace filled with supplement manufacturers who are looking for ways to distinguish themselves from their competitors, companies that reflect the social concerns of their customers are finding that a strong social agenda can be a competitive edge. The goal for these companies is to sell products and services that nourish the buyers’ consciences as well as their bodies.
Healthy Customers, Healthy Earth, Ethical Businesses
The most direct appeal to customers who want their purchases to help build a better world comes from companies that use organically sourced ingredients in their products. It’s a natural connection, since many of the people who use dietary supplements are already consuming as many organic foods as possible in their regular diets, and they want their supplements to be just as pure as the rest of their food.
Organic crops are grown with no pesticides, artificial fertilizers, genetic modifications, artificial preservatives or artificial colors. Meat comes from producers with higher standards for their animals’ welfare, and the routine use of antibiotics is forbidden. These ingredients are produced and processed in a manner that is better for the soil, the animals, the ecosystem – and finally for the consumers as well.
The United States Department of Agriculture offers an official federal accreditation program for producers who meet strict government standards. A description of the process is available at usda.gov, and it outlines all of the steps and costs required for the certification. The procedure is neither simple nor cheap. It takes anywhere from one to two years for a company to comply with all of those requirements, and the expenses can be considerable, but at the end they are allowed to use their status as a major marketing tool to show customers that they are living up to the standards for true organic certification and are operating as ethical businesses.
Putting Their Money Where The Trees Are
In addition to organic certification, some supplement companies have taken up the environmental challenge to replenish natural resources. Corporations have been criticized for years for taking their ingredients from the ecosystem without having a systemized plan for replacing what they have taken. A popular organization called One Percent for the Planet has attracted donations from a number of companies that collect and process materials from the soil. OPP is an international organization whose members (ethical businesses) contribute at least 1 percent of their annual sales to environmental causes.
Another popular environmental group is called One Tree Planted, which focuses its attention on global reforestation in North America, South America, Asia and Africa. According to their website, planting trees is one of the best ways to reduce global carbon emissions. The average mature tree is capable of sequestering 48 pounds of carbon each year. While global deforestation continues, these reforestation projects are planting trees that will clean the air for years to come, and they will also protect habitats for biodiversity.
Sustainable packaging is yet another environment-friendly trend that many ethical businesses have employed. Recyclable glass jars, which can keep supplements and other product fresh and effective for up to a year, are quickly replacing plastic bottles for many products. Some companies even go so far as to print all of their labels and other materials on uncoated paper certified as recyclable by the Forest Stewardship Council, a non-profit agency that is considered the most rigorous, credible forest certification system available, promoting environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically prosperous management of the world’s forest.
Making The Grade By Joining The B-Team
Going beyond these environmental concerns, a number of corporations have received official certification by B Lab, an international business organization that rates businesses on a wide variety of social issues. Those companies that meet the standards are awarded the designation of a B Corporation, which means they are leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, regenerative economy and leading the way for ethical businesses.
Currently, 54 nutritional supplement manufacturers have received B Corporation certification. They have joined more than 4,000 businesses in more than 70 countries and over 150 industries. To achieve this status, each company must:
Demonstrate high social and environmental performance by achieving a B Impact Assessment score of 80 or above and passing our risk review, and multinational corporations must also meet baseline requirement standards;
Make a legal commitment by changing their corporate governance structure to be accountable to all stakeholders, not just shareholders, and achieve benefit corporation status if available in their jurisdiction;
Exhibit transparency by allowing information about their performance measured against B Lab’s standards to be publicly available on their B Corp profile on B Lab’s website.
According to its website, the B Corporation movement began in 2006 with the goal of changing the free world’s economic system by changing the rules of the game. B Lab creates standards, policies, tools, and programs that shift the behavior, culture, and structural underpinnings of capitalism. The organization is working to shift the global economy from a system that profits few to one that benefits all: advancing a new model that moves from concentrating wealth and power to ensuring equity, from extraction to generation, and from prioritizing individualism to embracing interdependence.
Checking All The Boxes
One of the supplement companies that has met all of these environmental and social standards, and has been a B Corporation since January 2021, is Amodern Alchemy. Although its offices are in New York, the company produces all of its products in California and has built a nationwide clientele for its wellness supplements.
Founded by Australian/American Designers Sophia Hanover and Alex Post, Amodern Alchemy seeks to offer a nuanced and practice-driven approach to its market, while continuing to evolve its product line to better serve its customers. Hanover, who serves as the company’s CEO, says the business practices required of a B Corporation were a good fit for her company’s basic philosophy.
“Being 100 percent organic from the start, and using the highest possible quality ingredients we can source, while implementing fair and sustainable business practices, was really, really important to us from the get-go,” Hanover says. “Consumers are aware increasingly that they are voting with their dollars, so we’ve built the idea of reciprocity into our business model.”
Telling It Like It Is
Being more open and direct with customers is another hallmark of businesses attempting to develop and improve their social consciousness. Organizational transparency is a major hallmark of the B Corporation movement because it builds trust with consumers, communities, and suppliers; it attracts and retains employees; and it draws mission aligned investors.
Openness with consumers is especially important in the supplement marketplace, where customers are entrusting their health and fitness to companies that in turn promise to provide them with products that are safe, effective and environmentally friendly. Hanover of Amodern Alchemy says her company’s target customer is one who takes these issues seriously.
“We’re aiming for anyone looking to address those common health issues as naturally as they can. Someone who is well-versed in these issues and is looking to buy the highest quality product they can,” she says. “We’re also looking for new customers who want to find a good natural product but don’t know where to start that search.”
Keep On Keeping On
Convincing consumers that they are doing business with ethical corporations in an ongoing mission for companies that want to remain involved in the social justice movement. Because the B Corporations are required to undergo a verification process every three years in order to be recertified, these businesses are by definition focused on continuous improvement, leading to their long-term resiliency in the marketplace of both products and ideas.
B Corporation certification is holistic, and it is not exclusively focused on a single social or environmental issue. The process to achieve and maintain certification is rigorous and requires engaging teams and departments across each company. Recertification confirms these standards continue to be met on an ongoing basis.
Routine reevaluation also ensures that companies remain aware of changes in various environmental and social justice movements. The basic principles of sustainability, fairness and openness remain the same, but they are often expressed in different ways as new concerns arise and older organizations evolve to meet these challenges. B Corporations and other companies hoping to reach socially conscious consumers must remain open to the same kind of evolution as the customers they serve.
Ethical Businesses Strive To Do Good While Doing Well: Is an original Healthxwire publication
Important Note: The information contained in this Healthxwire article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as health or medical advice, nor is it intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease or health condition. Before embarking on any diet or program of nutritional supplementation, it is advisable to consult your healthcare professional to determine its safety and probable efficacy in terms of your individual state of health.