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Introducing: Comet Skateboards

Groundhog Day has come to pass and to the dismay of many, Punxsutawney Phil, the little scoundrel, saw his shadow and retreated to his den. We have already suffered through the first half of his extended winter sentence, but there are three more weeks yet, which means three more weeks to contemplate which new longboard or cruiser to cop for Spring’s pavement shredding pleasures. Enter, Comet Skateboards.

Industry: Skateboards & Apparel

Certifications: Certified B Corps (122), Cradle To Cradle

Location: Lansing, NY

Skater owned since 1997, Comet Skateboards is committed to providing high quality, durable, and sustainable skateboards. The boards themselves are sure to turn heads, as each is artfully designed and unique, the graphics for which are periodically produced by fans of the brand in their online forums. When analyzing the action sports industry, Comet stands out as a leader in social and environmental responsibility. Their B Corporation status shows a commitment to these principles, creating equity not just for company owners, but for employees, the community, and the environment.

Keep It Local: Few things can fight the adverse effects of climate change like locally sourced materials and community can. This cuts down on fuel consumption during transportation, allows local suppliers to experience a greater share of the benefits provided by the end product, creates a trustworthy connection throughout the supply chain and in the end, produces higher quality products.

Comet is the cool neighborhood kid down the street with all the gnarliest gear. The gear is gnarly because it is built sustainably, built to last, and built locally. Their facilities are located on the east coast where they are the shortest distance possible from where their Maple is harvested. According to Comet, “Being close to our suppliers creates a connection that allows us to work on custom formulations and forestry techniques that ensure generations of trees in the future and a healthy forest.” They consistently engage with their wood suppliers to meet the highest standards of forestry techniques, which in turn sets the standard and secures sustainable sourcing for the entire industry, not just Comet itself.

Not to mention, over 50% of Comet’s ownership is located in the same community as more than 2/3 of their total workforce, 40% of their expenditures are directed towards local suppliers, more than 75% of employees participate in company-wide service days, all employees are paid a living wage, over 50% of employee health insurance premiums are paid by the company, and over 50% of employees work in “Enterprise Zones”, which are government established, often low-income areas recovering from disaster, such as a flood or hurricane. Businesses in these zones are encouraged, through cost savings, to open their doors and hire local residents within these areas in order to stimulate economic growth.

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Keep It Safe: The sustainable, local sourcing of FSC certified wood is impressive, but Comet takes their environmental stewardship to another level. In the skateboard manufacturing process there are chemicals and adhesives that must be used to create bonds between wood fibers that are strong enough to withstand the wear and tear of everyday use. There is a list out there called the “Red List” crafted by the EPA and other environmental organizations, such as the International Living Future Institute, that documents and denounces chemicals that are harmful to human, wildlife, and Earth health. Most skateboard companies use chemicals on this list, Formaldehyde being one of the worst.

Because formaldehyde is so toxic, yet so widely used in traditional adhesive formulas, Comet had to go back to the drawing board and create an adhesive that was up to their lofty environmental standards. They worked with their glue suppliers to innovate new formulations of formaldehyde-free wood adhesives that, they believe, are the next frontier of high strength, environmentally safe skateboards. This new formula has immense implications for the rest of the industry as our communities start to move towards more sustainable lives. (some slowly, some quickly)

Once the wood and adhesive have been pressed, next comes the design phase. Comet’s inks are made in the USA and are free of hazardous chemicals used in typical inks such as lead and mercury, among others. Every board receives a silk screened, hand laid graphic, making each board unique.

After the graphic has been laid, a specially formulated, protective clear coat is applied for durability. Comet has been hunkered down in the lab collaborating with engineers and the like since it’s inception in 1997, perfecting the use of water-based clear coats. As of 2012, their years of research and application have led to the most environmentally friendly, high-performing clear coat available on Earth. This coating ensures that the boards are protected from all the elements and keeps graphics looking fresh.

Through the use of water based clear coats and inks Comet has proven skateboards do not need to be made with hazardous, toxic coatings and inks. These innovations have resulted in the prevention of approximately three tons of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from entering the atmosphere and their production crew’s lungs over the last fifteen years of operation. The company also gets over 50% of its supplies from recycled materials and runs its facilities on over 50% renewable energy.

Keep It Strong: Consistency ensures repeat quality in board after board, as their industrial glue spreader coats their magnificent wood skeletons and hot presses each one to yield the strongest decks on the market. Hot pressing opens the pores of Comets locally sourced hard maple cut outs, urging them to absorb steam heated, low viscosity glue deep into each layer.  While developing their innovative adhesive they chose to focus on the microscopic level,  allowing tiny particles to penetrate into all of the boards’ nooks and crannies, increasing the overall strength of each bond. Laboratory tests show that Comet bonds are up to 1.5 times stronger than in other boards.  This translates to longer lasting pop, stiffness, and thus happier, more confident Skateboarders.

Comet is a trailblazer in its ability to innovate so that other manufacturers and ultimately all of us, can benefit. They are true heros in the world of sustainable manufacturing and supply chain management, showing the world that a holistic approach to business is not just possible, but truly beneficial.

You can shop Comet products on their – website – or through  – Amazon

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SUPPORT GNARLY BOARDS

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Introducing: United by Blue

Industry: Clothing/Accessories

Certifications: Certified B Corps (110)

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Founded in 2010, United By Blue (UBB) has come onto the scene as a leader in environmentally responsible business. Their company philosophy reads, “We created United By Blue with the idea that a successful outdoor brand can do serious conservation work. This means everyone here at United By Blue is rolling up their sleeves and removing plastic bottles, styrofoam, tires, old appliances, you name it from creeks, rivers, beaches, and streams. We organize and host cleanups to make a measurable impact on the most pressing of environmental problems: ocean trash and plastics pollution.”

Environmental Stewards

Sourcing: United By Blue (UBB) is a steward of the land and of our oceans. Stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. By holding their suppliers to specific standards, they ethically source their materials which consist of recycled polyester, organic cotton, and wool. (though there have been some competing views on the ethics and sustainability of wool)

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picture source: https://unitedbyblue.com/pages/philosophy

Manufacturing: Along with sustainable material sourcing, all of their manufacturers have facilities that implement techniques to reduce their footprint and all must use fair-wage practices with workers. The location of production is another important element to consider when evaluating a product’s sustainability. All of UBB’s graphic tees and socks are made in the US, as well as some of their standard tees, fleece, jackets and chambray shirts. The bulk of their other products (bags, dresses, pants, etc) are made in Asia where the necessary materials and skills are best sourced. Aside from their product life cycle, they also offer their employees paid time off for community service, and over 75 percent of their office supplies are made from recycled content, adding to their environmental prestige.

By The Numbers:

A rediculous 8 million tons of plastic enter oceans each year. That is equivalent to the weight of 137 fully staffed cruise ships. Plastic bottles alone make up 1.5 million tons of plastic waste annually. Plastics and other litter ultimately end up in the world’s gyres, or circulating ocean currents, and can turn into dense vortexes of trash. The most famous marine trash heap, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is thought to be at least as large as twice the size of Texas (540,000 sq. miles), with larger estimates coming in at twice the size of the continental United States(!!!), either way that’s a lot of garbage.

 

Leaving A Handprint

A great concept coined by the International Living Future Institute’s Living Product Challenge is the idea of the “handprint”, which looks at the positive impact an organization’s product causes across its life cycle. United By Blue leaves their handprint through company organized cleanups. These cleanups are responsible for the removal of 995,291 pounds of trash out of our Earth’s waterways, during a total of 177 cleanups, across 26 states, equivalent to 900 full pick up trucks or 4 blue whales worth of trash. In 2016 alone they removed 675,396 pounds of trash over the course of 36 company organized cleanups. This suggests their brand is beginning to grow pretty substantially, which will make our marine life a lot happier and healthier.

You can shop United By Blue products on their – website – or through  – Amazon

SUPPORT GOOD BUSINESS

SUPPORT OUR OCEANS

SUPPORT THE TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE

Introducing: Sustain Condoms

Whether you plan on ringing in the New Year with a simple kiss or something a little more intimate, it’s always important to be prepared. Make Little Dicky proud and buy a condom brand that is both healthy and safe!

Industry: Health & Wellness

Certifications: B Corps Certified, Fair Trade Certified, Vegan Certified, Non-GMO, FSC Certified, Made Safe Certified

Location: Burlington, VT

Women In Power

Started by Jeffrey Hollender, the founder of Seventh Generation, and his daughter Meika Hollender, Sustain looks to revolutionize the condom industry by providing women with an alternative to mass condom brands. Surprisingly, women purchase about 40 percent of the condoms sold in the US every year. This is why Sustain uses a voice and tone that speaks to women and the issues they care about, making the company unlike anything else on the market today. They are owned by 50 percent women and through their 10 Percent for Women program, 10 percent of profits are distributed to organizations that provide reproductive healthcare and family planning services to low income women in the US.

Sustain believes that buying and carrying condoms should be something women are proud to do. It’s about women taking control of their sexual health.

No Cancers Here

Keep carcinogens away from your naughty bits! In 2010, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Population Fund asked that manufacturers begin to eliminate the presence of nitrosamines, a class of carcinogenic chemicals found in many latex condoms.

Despite the request, many companies failed to take the message seriously. In September 2014, the Reproductive Health Technologies Project (RHTP) released the results of an independent study on latex condoms sold in the United States. The study found that only two major condom brands were free of detectable nitrosamines across their entire product line, Sustain being one of them.

There are thousands and thousands of toxic chemicals that we come into contact with every day. Limiting our exposure to these chemicals can allow us to not only live a healthier life, but supporting businesses who are responsible encourages other businesses to also be responsible, giving us a healthier environment of consumption. Plus keeping cancer causing toxins away from our reproductive organs seems like it should be a no brainer.

If you want to learn more about nitrosamines in condoms, read the RHTP report and share it with the people you care about most.

Fairly Sourced Rubbers

 Fair Trade is an important thing to consider when browsing for new products. Where does the product come from? Are the workers cared for properly, what are their working conditions, are they paid a fair wage? These are important questions to ask because they help the consumer understand the brands motives. The difference is taking advantage of workers and the community versus considering the workers environment and providing them a healthy working experience.

Sustain sources their latex from southern India in one of the most sustainable rubber tree plantations in the world. The plantation provides its 180 rubber tappers and their families a quality, fair working experience. Beyond banning child labor and paying reasonable wages, the plantation provides education and healthcare to the entire community. The rubber industry has a disreputable history of abusive practices including child labor, and the bulldozing of indigenous cultures for new plantations as the price of rubber continues to increase. Sustains plantation is a bright spot in an often dark field.

Fairly Made Rubbers

 Sustain also sources their manufacturing to India. The facility there has natural sunlight in every room. A portion of their energy comes from a solar array on the roof. The workers are unionized and able to negotiate with management for wages that are significantly higher than at the average factory in India. The factory also has an AIDS awareness program, where they educate adults in 600 villages of a district in South India about the disease and how to prevent it. Needless to say Sustain and their manufacturer make for a good match. 

You can shop Sustain products on their – website – or through  – Amazon – 

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Support Good Sex

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Introducing: West Paw Designs

Industry: Pet Toys and Bedding

Cost Comparison: Comparable to competitors 

Certifications: B Corps Certified

Location: Bozeman, MT

Handcrafted in the USA

Furry, fetchable, and eco-friendly, West Paw has a great variety of high quality, domestically crafted pet toys and bedding. Straight from their headquarters in Bozeman, skilled sewers make each piece one loving stitch at a time. By smartly cutting every square inch of fabric to make their beds, they are able to keep fabric out of the landfill by using the leftover fabric in their toys.

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Sustainable Pups

A healthy earth means healthy pets and healthy pets means happy owners. This is why West Paw incorporates sustainable practices in their manufacturing and design processes using only BPA and phthalate-free, non-toxic and FDA compliant materials. For example, they use a new IntelliLoft fabric and fill for their toys, which is made from recycled bottles. Also, their award winning Zogoflex® dog toys can all be infinitely recycled through their Join the Loop program which allows customers to send back an old Zogoflex to be recycled into new Zogoflex’s. The company also co-founded the Montana Coalition for the Outdoors and the Pet Industry Sustainability Coalition. 

Giving Back

West Paw Design impliments a Donations Committee to review monthly requests for money and pet products. They donate high quality, re-sellable pet products for raffles and auctions, and also donate imperfect products to humane societies and shelters because homeless pups need toys and beds too.

Pet Sustainability Coalition

West Paw Design helps set the satandard for sustainability in the pet products industry by co-founding the Pet Industry Sustainability Coalition. The coalition unites pet-driven businesses, providing them with resources so they can collaborate on advancing their business goals while maintaining their commitment to the planet. This allows for the creation of not just superior products, but sustainable, community-minded business solutions. 

You can shop West Paw products on their – website – or through  – Amazon – 

SUPPORT GOOD BUSINESS

Support Good (cute) Pets

Support the Triple Bottom Line

Introducing: Sword & Plough

Industry: Clothing/Accessories

Cost Comparison: Slightly more expensive than competitors

Certifications: N/A 

Location: Denver, CO

To turn swords into plough shares…

Sword & Plough originates from the saying, “To turn swords into plough shares.” which is to take military technologies and materials and apply them to peaceful civilian applications. Through recycling and repurposing military fabrics, Sword & Plough provides consumers with products that are purposeful and fashionable.

Started by sisters Emily and Betsy Cavnes, Sword & Plough incorporates veterans into every stage of their business including designers, managers, sewers, quality control experts and even models. Through its branding and outreach, Sword & Plough helps bridge the civil-military divide.

Signature Product

Sword & Plough has a unique line of artfully crafted bags and accessories made from repurposed military surplus with a fashionable touch. 

Average Bag Cost: $220

4 Pillars of Social Impact

Sword & Plough doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to their commitment to creating social impact, they walk the walk. Social impact is literally written into the founding documents of the company and is the core of their products, brand and identity. 

People: Supports and creates veteran job opportunities within the company and also within their suppliers and partners. Additionally, they support veteran entrepreneurship by partnering with veteran owned businesses.

Purpose: Co-founders Emily and Betsy often speak publicly on the topics of veteran employment and the civil-military divide. To further educate consumers, each product carries an information card describing the social impact initiatives for closing the civil-military divide and supporting veterans and veteran organizations as well as social media activity dedicated to veteran support and awareness.. 

Planet: Repurposes military surplus such as tents, sleeping bag covers, uniform fabric, military spec canvas and nylon, and any other material available. Since launching in 2013, more than 25,000 pounds of military surplus have been sourced, reducing the huge quantities of water, energy, fertilizers, pesticides and emissions involved in manufacturing new textiles. In addition to up-cycling surplus fabrics, they also use 100% domestic sourcing of all fabrics and leather in order to reduce fuel consumption and emissions during transport.

Profit: Donates 10% of after-tax profits to organizations that support veterans. Specifically, they support veteran employment, veteran health, and civil-military understanding. The Got Your 6 Campaign (organized and run by Be The Change, Inc.) is Sword & Plough’s primary giving partner. The Got Your Six Campaign creates significant and measurable impact in six key areas of veteran civil reintegration: Jobs, Health, Family, Education, Housing, and Leadership.

You can shop Sword & Plough products here on their website  

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Support Our Troops

Support the Triple Bottom Line

Introducing: MiiR

 

Kicking things off on this blog from the PNW I figured it was fitting to feature a company from our home state. MiiR is based in Seattle, WA and is changing the world through the sale of outdoor recreation products such as bikes, bags, and mugs. They also boast the highest B Corp score (117/200) in the industry.

Industry: Outdoor Recreation

Cost Comparison: Comparable to competitors 

Certifications: B Corps Certified, Evergreen Certified, LEED Certified

Location: Seattle, WA

Products

Mugs: MiiR offers an extensive selection of reusable bottles, mugs and canisters at a competitive price.

MiiR Average Cost: $30 

Comparable Products Average Cost: KleanKanteen-$30 Camelbak-$27

Bags: MiiR has four sleek and simple bags ranging in size from a small pouch to a larger travel backpack.

MiiR Average Cost: $120

Comparable Products Average Cost: Osprey-$160 Northface-$140

Bikes: MiiR sells four different bikes that range from their topline Burke ($1,175) down to their children’s bike, the Bambini. ($95)

MiiR Average Cost: $800

Comparable Products Average Cost: Ghost-$1,100 Cannondale-$900

Unique Business Model

Their unique ‘Product to Project’ business model is responsible for helping people live better lives through investments in clean water, bicycle transportation and education. Their approach to giving is simple; regardless of whether or not they are profitable, (which they are) they commit to giving 5% of their revenue to projects around the world. This is 5% of TOTAL SALES, not profit. They believe, “It is far better to give someone a fishing pole and teach them to fish than simply handing them a fish.”

Philanthropy

 

The 5% of total sales is given through their ‘MiiR Give’ program and has contributed to over 55 water projects in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa including projects dedicated to biosand filters, construction and rehabilitation of water systems, as well as supporting hygiene and sanitation efforts through their mug sales. They also support transportation and education projects through the sale of their bike and bags, respectively. For a complete list of their current projects and the organizations they support check out their project map

‘Track Your Impact’

Perhaps the coolest aspect of buying a MiiR product is not only supporting good business, but having the ability to track the specific project your purchase is supporting. This is made possible by ‘Give Codes’ which are given with every item sold. Take your Give Code to their website and enter it in under the ‘Track Your Impact’ tab to see your purchase at work.

Flagship Store

MiiR’s business plan isn’t the only thing that is unique. At their flagship store in Seattle, MiiR provides a space for community interaction by mixing MiiR products, delicious, sustainably-sourced coffee from Counter Culture Coffee, a huge selection of craft beers, food, and information on the MiiR Give program and community. At the store you can shop the entire product line as well as Flagship exclusives, not found online or in other stores. They also offer events and seminars from their partners to spread the good word about responsible business. The store is located in the Brooks Running building which is LEED certified and part of Living Building Pilot program. (Shout out to the International Living Future Institute) The facility is regarded as one of the most efficient commercial buildings in the nation. 

You can shop MiiR products on their website – https://www.miir.com/ – also find MiiR products through Patagonia (another great corporation) 

SUPPORT GOOD BUSINESS

Support the Triple Bottom Line

 

 

 

Triple Bottom Line – Purposeful Blogging for Purposeful Business

In light of our new president elect I feel the need to reach out to my circle on an issue I am passionate about. The environment, our Earth, our only Earth. Regardless of your political affiliation, or your religion, or race, or sex, or gender, or even species (for all the dogs, cats, and other household pets reading this) climate change will negatively affect you and it will affect your children, and your children’s children, and the trend will continue until we all decide to act on it and take it seriously. Whether action comes through the free market or public policy, that is fact.

It is also a fact that come January, the United States will be THE ONLY nation in the world with a leader who denies climate change. A leader who has stated that climate change is a hoax, a conspiracy perpetrated by the Chinese. A leader who plans to pull out of the Paris Agreement signed by the US and 190 other countries around the world and ratified by 105 of those same nations. A leader who has just appointed known climate-denier Myron Ebell to head the EPA. These decisions could and almost certainly will be detrimental to the progress we have made over the last few years and could have unprecedented effects on the environment, global/domestic economy, peace, food security, water security, and immigration.

Many people feel hopeless on issues as big as climate change because small actions can often feel so insignificant when compared to the overall problem. However, what many people fail to realize is their ultimate power as an educated consumer.

It is basic economics that demand determines supply. However basic the concept, the idea is powerful. If you have ever thought quietly to yourself, or out loud while smoking That 70’s Show style in the basement with your friends, “Man, large corporations control the world.” you would be right to some extent. I however, would ask for you to look at it from the other side.

The reason these corporations are so large and powerful isn’t due to an evil plot for world dominance or brainwashing tactics causing us all to buy their products, (though there is some incredible marketing psychology that goes into ad campaigns) it is simply because there is huge demand for the things they sell. Demand is large, so many meet demand with a supply at as little cost as possible in order to meet every conventional business’ goal of maximizing shareholder profits. Unfortunately, minimizing costs often results in diminished respect for employees, consumers, and/or the planet.

But it doesn’t need to be this way.

This type of business is luckily becoming increasingly less acceptable as we, the educated consumers, begin demanding more products and organizations that do the right things, corporations that treat their employees, customers, and the environment with respect. Companies that have a true triple bottom line for people, planet, and profit. It is not my purpose to bore you with facts, or scare you, or to drone on about the current state of things, it is to empower people to take some small actions and to encourage everyone that despite the power of public policy and large industries, there will always be our voice and actions as consumers that dictate true change.

Now that I have undeniably inspired everyone to change the world, I will be starting a couple new social media accounts and a blog, (which you are reading, yay!) dedicated to sharing amazing, socially responsible corporations with you all. From biodegradable condoms and eco-friendly baby clothes, to responsible sportswear and upcycled military surplus, I will provide you with products that you can feel good about buying.

Also, I would like to encourage anyone who has questions about climate change, waste reduction, green products, green building, or anything having to do with the conservation of our environment, to contact me and open up a dialog. My inbox is always open.

This is our only Earth, we must treat it with respect by supporting good business.