Wednesday, 30 March 2022

B Better, B Corp

"Do you know about B Corp companies,. Mum?" said Liz - explaining these are companies whose business models involve justice for workers, sustainability for the planet, and bringing benefit to the community. Here's a helpful video to explain


March is B Corp month, and so a pop-up shop appeared in premises just off Oxford Street. Liz and I visited on Thursday. If London is the B Corp Capital of the world, how come I am only just hearing of this? It started in 2006 - yet was not once mentioned in the Green Living Group I belonged to back in Dorset. I hoped that we would find out more inside the shop. Sadly we were both a little bit disappointed. 

Inside, it was like a regular small shop - with shelves, freezers, and  chill cabinets where lots of very diverse products were on display. Lots of banners with phrases like "looking good, feeling good, doing good" over a shelf of toiletries and beauty products and "be cool" over the cold drinks dispenser.

It was a shame that our presence meant the one staff member present had to stop her mobile phone conversation, she clearly wanted to be somewhere else, and did not know the answer to our questions - she told us she had not expected to be working there. 

It was a hot day, and Liz thought she'd buy a cool drink from the vending machine. It didn't seem to have facilities for payment- she pressed the button and it dispensed her can, then she tried again and got one for me. The woman did not know how we were supposed to pay and said we should just keep the cans. Liz asked about buying one of the products from the shelf. But no, all the products were just display items- nothing was actually For Sale.

"It is just so you can see which companies have been given B Corp certification and be more mindful when you buy goods." said the woman. 

We recognised lots of the products including...

  • who gives a c**p ? loo rolls
  • tracklements pickles
  • alpro non dairy milks
  • pip&nut peanut butter
  • dash flavoured waters
  • toast beer
  • sipsmith  gin
  • COOK frozen ready meals
  • divine chocolate
  • the Guardian newspaper
  • belazu ingredient company
I think Steph has done some work with belazu - here is their B Corp video

We would have really liked an explanatory leaflet and a list of B corp certified producers to take away. Even more we'd have liked the opportunity to purchase some of the items
I thought the COOK dinosaur chicken pie looked great [although with the right cookie cutter, it would not be hard to replicate at home!]
I wanted to ask about something we had noticed as we came up The Strand on the bus. Coutts Bank [the Queen's bank, which offers wealth management to some of the richest people in the country] actually has a sign outside saying it is a certified B Corp. How does that work? If their job is to help the rich maintain [and grow] their healthy bank balances, exactly how does that square with equitable distribution of wealth across the planet?
The whole experience of visiting the good News shop raised more questions than answers. I appreciated my free recyclable can of water [flavoured with 'wonky' cucumbers originally destined to be ditched] and also my bag of ethical, fairly traded chocolate buttons.  Thank you for these snacks for the train journey. 
Waitrose has been promoting BCorp products this month and featured some of them in their weekend magazine. It seems a good idea- but at the moment it feels not terribly well publicised. How much would this certification affect my decision whether or not to buy something? I'm not sure...Have you been aware of BCorp? 

12 comments:

  1. I'd not heard of it at all. It needs to be more widely advertised or promoted I should think.

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  2. Kezzie, if it's not on your radar (and you are always very aware of such initiatives) then they definitely need to up their game.

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  3. My ex-boss banked with Coutts. Lovely green leather-covered cheque books with beautifully printed and embossed cheques inside, not that I was ever issued with any!!I suppose the logistics of a pop-up shop to deal with sales/cash/cash machines was perhaps a bridge too far, especially if the one member of staff was a reluctant 'employee'!

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    1. My first bank account was with National Westminster as it then was - and you could choose to have your cheques printed with landscapes or pictures of animals

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  4. I had never heard of this! It sounds like the shop wasn't well thought out. I thought that no matter what the ethics, a shop should never miss a chance to make a sale! Thank you for sharing.

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  5. I get that it was there to inform about BCorp products - but even if they say "this is what you can buy, but we are not selling it here" they could at least give you details of suppliers....

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  6. I've never heard of it and wonder if they really do want to trade.. but free drinks not to be sniffed at!

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  7. Too bad you couldn't get the information you wanted. I guess they didn't think this through well enough!

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  8. I know I've seen the phrase B Corp somewhere, but I obviously didn't take in the context because I thought it was a derogatory term like B list! Thanks for informing me 🙂

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    1. That was what I originally thought too!

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