If you're looking to make your lifestyle more planet-friendly, there can be a huge amount to consider. Does the brand pay a fair wage? Are its supply chains as sustainable or as transparent as it says?
While you are computing this, there's also a range of certifications – such as Certified Vegan, Soil Association, and Forest Association, that can make it even more difficult to ascertain exactly what you need to look out for.
While these eco-labels offer positive steps, none of them fully encompass what it means for a business to be both ethical and sustainable in all its varieties.
This is where the B Corporation certification comes in – arguably the creme de la crémé. It's a little publicised sustainability credential that was created by B Lab, a global non-profit that aims to make it easier for mission-driven companies to have a more positive impact on the planet and its people.
Since its launch in 2006, more than 100,000 businesses have signed up for the B Corp Impact Assessment, yet only 3,500 have been certified which is testament to its extremely high standards.
It has a rigorous accreditation process, where a company's performance is assessed on a points system and measured against five key categories: governance, workers, customers, community, and the environment, with 80 points needed to pass. An exam is also required, which includes 150 to 200 questions (depending on a company's size and sector) regarding how the business operates.
The process highlights the areas of weakness, providing a clear roadmap for improvements and the positive sustainable and social practices that should be implemented so as to continually strive for good.
Gaining a B Corp certification is not a one-time thing either, businesses have to re-certify and improve its score ever three years. And these certified businesses are held legally accountable to consider the impact their decisions have on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.
During the coronavirus pandemic, many brands have come under fire for getting rid of staff or cancelling orders and leaving suppliers burdened with deadstock. A certified B Corp would be reprimanded for these types of actions, either by way of having its certification revoked or facing problems through the internal complaints process.
This certification allows you to spot the brands that have an incredible ethos and are continually striving to do things better – for its team, the planet and the people within it.
If you’re looking to swap your essential shop with brands leveraging their resources to pay into a better world, we’ve rounded up the certified B Corps that you need to know. From food and drink to fashion and beauty – we’ve got you covered.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Food and Drink
Independent beer brand and social enterprise, Brewgooder is on a mission is to help improve the lives of others, primarily through funding clean water projects in developing countries. All of the brand's profits are donated to charity. Cheers to that!
Based in Manchester, this independent brand is striving to make an environmental impact. All its tea bags are 100 per cent plastic-free and compostable, and it's currently working to make its packaging the same. It's particular about the non-tea part of its blends – only ever using natural herbs, fruits, and oils; nothing artificial. These topped our review of the best plastic-free tea bags, so you can trust us that this brand knows it's stuff when it comes to a good brew.
Founded on an authentic approach to ethical chocolate production, Daisy & Dom holds itself accountable for the transparency of its supply chain – from bean to bar. By doing this it promises that only high-quality, ethically-sourced ingredients are used in its chocolate bars. It also buys and sources its beans from cocoa cooperatives to make sure money goes back into the communities and supports important social and educational causes. Championing equitable pay across all the supply chain, good working conditions, and respect for the environment, we think it's high time you swapped your usual chocolate with goodies from this brand instead.
Since it was founded in 1999, Innocent Drinks has been dedicated to making its brand better in every way possible. The packaging of all its product is 100 per cent recyclable, and its bottles are made from 50 per cent recycled plastic and 15 per cent plant plastic, by 2022, it hopes its plastic bottles will be made from 100 per cent renewable packaging. Similarly, it makes sure every supplier meets international sustainability standards and does its bit by donating 10 per cent of its profits to charity.
On a mission to fight food waste, Oddbox works closely with farmers across the UK and from abroad to give unwanted, wonky fruit and veg a fresh life. The boxes, which consist of odd and surplus fruit and veg are delivered directly to your door – it's currently only available to those living in London, but it's looking to expand. Contents of these boxes change weekly and are available in small, medium, and large.
Founded on a mission to create all-natural nut butters, Pip & Nut is a force for good across the board – from how it treats its workers to its environmental impact. It never uses palm oil in its products or unnecessary ingredients, and every employee has volunteered in the local community. The brand also offers you the opportunity to donate a jar of peanut butter to a food bank – for every one donated, Pip & Nut donate one too. If you're nuts about peanut butter, this is the ultimate brand.
London-based beer distillery is on a sustainable mission – 100 per cent of its electricity comes from the wind, sun and sea, and its labels, boxes and business cards are all totally recycled. Similarly, it's drastically cut the amount of water needed to brew beer. Industry standards typically require between eight and 10 pints of water for every pint brewed, but Small Beer designed a brewing kit that requires just one and a half pints to brew one pint. An impressive set of eco-credentials.
Dedicated to shaking up the dairy industry and produce great tasting yoghurt, The Collective uses ingredients that are free from artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives, and is on a quest to improve its packaging to make it more sustainable – for example, recently ditching lids and plastic spoons from its small yoghurt pots. It's also passionate about making sure its employees and customers are happy, as well as those in the wider community.
Using fresh surplus bread that would otherwise go to waste, Toast Ale produce award-winning craft beer. Replacing the often used virgin barley, it reduces the demand for land, water, and energy. It donates all of its profits to charity to help systematic change to fix the food system. Its website details everything from the number of meals donated and days spent volunteering to how many slices of bread it's saved and money donated.
With a range of vegan chocolate that's some of the best out there, not least because of its taste, but also its ethical ethos, the brand's raison d'être is to make the chocolate industry 100 per cent slave free. It works directly with farmers and invests in farming cooperatives, and goes the extra mile by paying premiums on top of Fairtrade prices – with more than nine per cent of the product's price going back to the cooca farmers. To represent the inequality within the chocolate industry, Tony's bars are divided into unevenly sized chunks. The packaging is made from uncoated, recycled Forest Stewardship Council certified paper originating from sustainably managed forests. Tony's Chcoloney took the crown in our guide to the best ethical chocolate brands, with our reviewer praising it on its "ethos, design and wonder flavours".
Founded on a simple mission of guilt-free sipping, We are Tea produces ethical, tasty, whole-leaf tea. The tea is biodegradable, including the teabag and inner bag, which is made from natureflex, derived from FSC-certified wood pulp. It's also part of the Ethical Tea Partnership, which makes sure tea producers meet social and environmental standards; addresses issues that tea workers face in their community such as poor nutrition and exploitation; improves sustainable practices of smallholder tea farms; and assists producers and farmers improve environmental management practices. With a vast selection of teas on offer, we think this is a great swap for PG Tips.
Often referred to as the "world's most comfortable shoes", footwear company, Allbirds uses a direct-to-consumer approach and produces environmentally friendly collections without raising prices or diminishing quality. In a bid to strive for the best, it offers longer-term contracts to encourage its suppliers to develop more sustainable practices and invent new materials. You really will tread more lightly on the planet in a pair of these.
Global footwear and lifestyle brand, Toms was founded on the belief in a better tomorrow and aims to improve people's lives through business – an ethos that shines through in the number of charitable initiatives it has launched. Its widely know "one for one" programme, for example, was the first of its kind and was seen as a revolutionary move within the industry. Sine 1 April, the brand has donated one-third of its profits to the "Toms Covid-19 Global Giving Fund" to support a number of charities, including WaterAid and international Medical Corps. In addition to its philanthropic credentials, its sustainable and ethical practices are equally as honourable.
Fair trade trainer brand Veja took over as the must-have label after the front row became increasingly eco-conscious. By working directly with small scale producers in Brazil and Peru, it cuts out the middleman and agrees a price for the cotton and rubber in advance, making sure producers can live decently and reinvest into their farms.
Clothing and accessories
With a focus on timeless design, Eileen Fisher was doing sustainable fashion before it was cool and is dedicated to shifting the fashion industry from a "take-make-waste" model to a circular one. It's no stranger to chemical-free dying processes, and the use of organic fibres, recycled clothing, and sustainable materials, such as wool and tencel lyocell. On a social level, it is committed to empowering women and girls by developing its "Women Together" initiative, an interactive livestream designed for women to draw on each other's strengths.
Thanks to its guided commitment to people, environment, products, outdoor clothing brand Finisterre is a pioneering force for good and constantly seeks for sustainable alternatives to what has gone before. Making informed decisions about its impact on the environment, its garment bags, for example, are part of its "leave no trace" initiative, and break down harmlessly into non-toxic biomass in the soil and sea, should it escape into the environment.
Visit Finisterre now
Beloved outdoor clothing company, Patagonia's environmental efforts led it to be named a UN Champion of the Earth in 2019, the UN's top environmental honour, for its entrepreneurial vision. Unlike other brands, it's unafraid to get political and be part of a movement for change, and it has a self-imposed Earth tax – donating one per cent of annual sales to grassroots environmental groups. If this isn't enough to persuade you to shop at Patagonia, 72 per cent of its collection uses recycled materials – including recycled polyester and nylon.
Designed with a healthy world in mind, tentree produces accessible clothing made from sustainable materials. Partnering with charitable organisations across the world, it plants trees and assists in the rehabilitation of the natural ecosystems, to date more than 45 million trees have been planted.
What started as a hobby of founder Audrey Migot-Adholla's has quickly grown into a successful jewellery brand. The small-batch collections are made exclusively to be sold via the brand only and create as little environmental impact as possible. It uses materials that are reclaimed or recycled, and the brand employs 150 artisans in Kenya, making sure they receive fair wages, have safe and healthy working environments, and give real recognition for their talent.
This brand is on a mission to use only sustainably and locally sourced ingredients, which in turn reduces the carbon footprint and creates jobs within the local communities. Products are cruelty-free, made from 100 per cent natural ingredients, and its "return, refill, repeat programme" aims to reduce the use of plastic packaging. It also donates two per cent of sales to its sustainable charity partners.
Paving the way for sustainable period products is Dame, which launched the first reusable tampon applicator. The brand's mission is simple: stop billions of period products ending up in our oceans, and since its launch, it has saved more than 2.5 million applicators from being thrown away. The B Corp certification is confirmation of the brand's ethos of having a lasting and effective positive impact on a global scale. It is pushing for change, supporting women's health, and helping on the fight against period poverty. Plus, its tampons are made from GOTS certified organic cotton. It was even named our IndyBest buy in our review of eco-friendly period products.
Ethique is a climate neutral company, meaning it offsets its carbon emissions, that uses 100 per cent vegan and sustainably sourced ingredients to make its products that are 100 per cent plastic-free. Beauty bars are the speciality here, with the aim of encouraging people to give up the bottle and instead reach for a shampoo or cleansing bar. By supporting farmers and producers directly, it makes sure they are paid a fair price and their community is better protected.
Striving to be a force for good, not just for profit, ethical and sustainable global practices have been the heart of the company since it was first founded in 1976. Initiatives include "forever against animal testing"; "community trade", the brand's independently verified fair trade programme that helps to improve the livelihood of its partners and invest in social and environmental projects that benefit their communities; and "plastics for change", The Body Shop's commitment to tackling the plastic crisis by using recycled plastic from India. It also offers volunteer days for employees outside of the business. And its skincare products are as great as its ethical and sustainable credentials.
Dedicated to providing high-quality food to your pets with a commitment to treading carefully on the planet and actively engaging in its community, Lily's Kitchen is all about using its business as a force for good. From eco-packaging to organic ingredients, it believes that actions speak louder than words.
With the aim of kick-starting a shift from discard to reuse, KeepCup produces reusable coffee cups that are made to last. It is leading the way to make sure the world no longer needs, wants,or uses single-use cups. A member of 1% for the Planet, it donates at least one per cent of global revenue to environmental causes. The thermal cup took the top spot in our review of the best reusable coffee cups, proving that its sustainable credentials don't sacrifice quality.
Inspired by Scandinavian and Danish design, Skandinavisk is a home and fragrance brand. All the ingredients used are natural, certified organic, and 100 per cent vegan – you won't find any palm oil, bee products, or virgin materials in its products either. And its recyclable bottles and tubes are made from renewably sourced bioplastics or 100 per cent recycled plastic.
Online toilet roll, kitchen towel, and tissue company Who Gives a Crap was founded in 2012 on the ethos of making a difference. It donates half of its profits to charities and projects, including Sanergy, which builds toilets and improves sanitation in the developing world. Each eco-friendly roll is made from natural and sustainable bamboo and comes wrapped in a brightly coloured paper packaging. And there’s no plastic in sight. This brand really does give a crap, we were so impressed it took the crown for IndyBest Buy in our review of best plastic-free beauty products.
Second-hand book retailer, World of Books is taking bold actions to lead on sustainability, reduce environmental impacts, and protect the low-carbon economy. It has improved the impact it has on the industry and communities by engaging with local networks, collaborating with waste and packing suppliers, and actively developing academic partnerships in the circular economy field. Following becoming B Corp certified, the brand said: "This is just a start of our journey to continuously champion business as a force for good in the world and focus on what people care most about."