What our B Corp journey means to me.
Faye Clifton is Head of Growth at Green&Blue and her job is to spread the word about how beautiful, stylish products can help make a space for nature.
Competing in a crowded business world, where success is often measured by profit, it is important that Green&Blue stand out as a company that cares about more than just its bottom line.
Becoming a B Corp seemed perfect for Green&Blue’s vision to reconnect people with nature and their mission to make homes havens for wildlife.
“We wanted to cut through the confusion of greenwashing.
To find a way for our customers to trust and believe that we work hard to make a positive impact for wildlife, our customers and each other.
B Corp certification shows that we meet these high standards and gives us a framework to inspire our future plans.”
Faye explains that as a small business Green&Blue has the freedom, creativity and passion that allows them to aim high and write their own rules when it comes to achieving their goals. B Corp certification seemed the perfect way to join like-minded businesses and work together as a force for good.
Green&Blue proudly achieved B Corp certification in 2018, long before the process was as visible as it is today.
Faye describes the beginning of their journey
“We first heard about B Corp in 2017 at an event at the Eden Project here in Cornwall. When we heard about it our ears pricked up as it showed a way for our business to be transparent. To demonstrate how we are genuinely sustainable rather than just saying that we are.”
So what are B Corps?
Businesses voluntarily complete the B Corp certification process which asks them to demonstrate the highest standards of commitment to social and environmental performance. The questionnaire process cuts through greenwashing to evidence that a company is genuinely inclusive, sustainable and committed to balancing profit with people and the planet in 5 areas – governance, workers, environment, community and customers.
Is Achieving B Corps Certification Easy?
The process is surprisingly rigorous and completing the impact assessment shines a light on all aspects of a business. At first this can seem a bit overwhelming and a lot of work. But Faye’s advice is ‘just go for it’ as step by step it allows you to build on your core business values.
“You can open the certification process and start working through it at your own pace – there’s no commitment – you’re not putting yourself under a lot of pressure or time frame, but actually you can enjoy the process and a lot of it can really make sense.”
The impact assessment covers all the fundamental areas of the business – what you do and how you do it. A score of 80+ is needed to be awarded certification and with over 200 questions this can give a business a huge push to be better
“We came into it quite naively, thinking well, of course Green&Blue is sustainable and impact-driven, but it forced us to think are we really doing the best we can?”
The B Corps Difference
Faye identified several areas that the team were able to work on, improving their original impact score of 83.3 to an amazing 99.7!
- Measuring – It is easy to think you are doing great but until you actually measure, record and report the figures you can’t be certain.
We thought having a green supplier was enough, but we weren’t tracking our units and now that we do we are making a conscious effort to reduce usage every day.
- Culture and Values – until now our team culture has been a ‘happy accident’ due to great people but now we are focussing on creating culture by design. By agreeing as a team what is important to us and how we look after each other.
- Governance – when we became a limited company in 2022 we adopted the B Corp principles into our governing document. This reflects how deeply committed we are to the principles of making our business a force for good, it is at the very core of what we do.
- Impact reporting – recording the data gives us a baseline for improvement. This is easy for some areas such as energy, but measuring less tangible outcomes can be tricky. Quantifying the benefits of creating vital new habitats is like measuring happiness – hard to pin down with metrics
“We want to do something beautiful, evocative and true to our values.
Impact reports give the stats but photos of a nesting family of swifts or this appreciative blue tit speak to your heart.
We don’t want to do anything just for the sake of it – we want it to mean something, be creative and be powerful.”
Plus there are plenty of things that Green&Blue do that can be measured which are at the heart of the B Corp vision
- Water - All the water that goes into our concrete products and for cleaning the mixer and moulds is harvested rainwater collected in huge tanks outside our workshop
- Packaging – we are proud that as part of the Shed project we recycle and shred local cardboard. We don’t use any bubble wrap or virgin grade packaging materials.
- Materials – we know that concrete isn’t great for the environment, but as a stable material, it provides the perfect habitat to last the lifetime of a building. We mitigate its impact by using 75% recycled Cornish China Clay in our concrete range.
- Seconds – our sales mean nothing goes to waste, customers find a bargain and the bees aren’t worried about the odd chip!
Continuing the B Corp Journey
The incredible achievement of B Corp certification doesn’t mean a business can sit back and think their work is done. It is a continuous process of improvement and with recertification required every 3 years, Faye is excited to find ways for Green&Blue to improve their impact score and keep accountable.
“Recertification gives us a taste for even more next time. We are committed to getting the whole team to take ownership of different elements rather than one person taking the lead. Then they can really bring about change in the area they know most about.”
The B Corp certification is now becoming widely known and familiar to consumers. With high profile brands joining and sharing their stories, customers know that B Corps are genuine, honest, trustworthy businesses that have proved that their actions speak louder than words.
“What we really love is this feeling that people come across our products and are intrigued by bee brick or a beautiful birdbath, but as you strip away the layers there’s something more lying underneath.
We love that one of our layers is that we are a certified B Corp. We don’t necessarily have to shout about it – it’s just what we do and a part of what we are.”
With over 4 600 members globally, the B Corp community is growing every day, redefining success, inspiring action and bringing together businesses determined to make our world a better place. Green&Blue are proud to be a small but committed part of this change.