Being a B Corp means implementing employee- and environmentally-friendly practices in the everyday workings of a business, such as fair pay, recycling and composting, and allocating paid time off for volunteer activities.
It also comes with the privilege of joining a larger network of businesses committed to ensuring that profit is not made at the expense of the people and the planet we inhabit.
But when we think about micro-level sustainability practices versus actually dismantling institutions that cause—and even exist partly because of—environmental degradation and exploitation, it can beg the unfortunate question of whether something as seemingly small as recycling a soda can could effect real change.
It is easy for individuals to push for things like Starbucks’ plastic straw bans because it could potentially reduce a small amount of waste, while imposing little inconvenience in our daily lives and counteracting the guilt we felt when we collectively watched one of the plastic straws with which we daily and thoughtlessly drink our iced lattes pulled from a sea turtle’s nose.
In that same vein, it is easy for businesses to enact these types of changes because it requires virtually zero financial sacrifice relative to their massive profits.
The difference between Starbucks and a B Corp is that the former performs sustainability while the latter incorporates it into company culture. Corporations can hop on the bandwagon of sustainability, while simultaneously using their monetary influence to ensure any regulations that could meaningfully curb pollution do not interfere with their bottom lines.
For B Corps, where environmental friendliness is incorporated into a mission statement, this results in hitting a wall; we can only do so much.
But I don’t mean for that to be disheartening. If anything, putting our individual acts of sustainability into perspective helps us see where we fall short and what exactly needs to happen on a macro-level to begin dismantling institutions of degradation.
With that in mind, the midterm elections are coming up and deadlines for voter registration are fast approaching if they have not arrived in your state already. All it takes is a perusal of the Environmental Protection Agency’s official website to see that our current administration is not exactly environmentally friendly.
So, what can we do as B Corp employees and/or environmentally conscious citizens about electing green politicians?
1. Research the businesses we frequent and see the politicians they are financially backing
Money talks and that means that while corporations might wield their financial power without regard for environmental responsibility, consumers can also vote with our dollars by not patronizing these businesses. Collectively, this could result in corporations having less money to lobby for environmentally regressive policies and to donate to politicians who would introduce this legislation. Open Secrets is a nonprofit that acts as a comprehensive resource for researching the current ins-and-outs of campaign finance.
2. For B Corps specifically, inform others about what we do and how to get involved
Again, there is power in numbers, so simply spreading the word about B Corps to friends and family who work for businesses that might be interested can result in more dollar votes against environmentally unfriendly competition and more options for consumers when determining how to be socially responsible when spending their money.
For example, we created the video below to share our B Corp story as told through the voices of Team Lulu.
Learn more about B Corps and how to be accredited.
3. Get involved in grassroots organizations that campaign for environmentally friendly candidates
If we’re really committed to electing politicians who will work on behalf of our planet, we need to get involved. Fortunately, some B Corps set aside paid time off for volunteer hours specifically. If you are not employed by a B Corp, however, you can still donate your time or money to electing these candidates. All it takes a little research, but here is a great article with 10 environmentally friendly organizations to help you get started in the fight against climate change.
4. Research your candidates!
We need to know for whom we’re voting before we vote. Politicians with an environmentally friendly platform often align themselves with all manner of social justice causes, so it is a win-win for everyone. HeadCount , Vote Smart, and On the Issues are all great online resources for getting to know the people who could represent us in local, state, and federal government come election day.
5. Register to vote and VOTE!
This is how we bring it all home. Firstly, see if you’re registered to vote at Vote.org. If you aren’t, hurry! There may still be time to register. Vote.org gives state-by-state deadlines as well. If you are registered, make sure you either vote early, send an absentee ballot, or show up to your local polling location on November 6th. To find out where you can vote, go to Headcount.org. Some B Corps even set aside time for employees to go vote, so we really don’t have an excuse. But regardless, VOTE! If nothing else, make your voice heard in this way. It is by far the most important action to take to effect systemic change.
One vote may not seem like much, but if we all decide not to vote because of this mindset, we all but guarantee the status-quo will persist; this just won’t do.
The flip side of this is that collectively, the environmentally friendly voter base has a huge potential to elect politicians who will introduce and vote for socially responsible policy. It takes individual and collective action to fight environmental degradation, so if we are truly committed to change, we must take both into our own hands.