We’re big supporters of the principles behind the B Corp movement, but we want to do more than just "spread the love" about it, we want to share the sustainability success stories from other B Corps! Each month we’ll be publishing an interview with a sustainability champion of a B Corp – and this month we are featuring W. S. Badger Company!
Badger is a family business making certified organic and truly natural skin care products. We blend organic plant extracts with beeswax and minerals to make healing balms, safe mineral sunscreens, lip balms, bug repellents, skin moisturizers, and other personal care products that work, smell, and feel great. Our sunscreens combine zinc oxide with certified organic and natural ingredients; are highly rated for their safety and efficacy; and have established Badger as a leader in natural cosmetics.
What made your company decide that sustainability was a priority?
Badger was founded with sustainability as a priority. It is written into our Mission & Principles, and continues to be at the forefront of all Badger business.
What is your company's greatest sustainability accomplishment to date?
Tough question to answer, because it permeates through all of our business practices. So there isn’t one big accomplishment we can point to… so I guess our biggest accomplishment is creating a business environment that supports sustainability, and has for almost 20 years.
How do you engage employees in sustainability issues?
In 2011, Badger became a certified B Corp to help assess and improve our business practices and ensure that we’re always doing what's right for people and the planet. We're constantly looking to improve the way we do things, and employees are encouraged to be part of decision making and problem solving for the company. Badger is also home to an Ecology Center that supplies organic vegetables for the daily employee lunch and hosts educational sessions that are open to the public and focus on environmental stewardship and green living.
What is the biggest sustainability challenge facing your industry today?
I would say packaging… I notice that many sustainably focused businesses still use plastic packaging. In some cases, few alternative green options exist, and those options can be cost-prohibitive. Badger’s answer to this is to always look for more sustainable options, but we have to be mindful of many aspects, including preservation of our natural products and cost.
How are you addressing sustainability issues in your supply chain?
Diligence. We look at every aspect from growing, harvesting, transport… it just takes time and dedication to that cause.
How important is sustainability to your customers, and how do you tell them your sustainability story?
Sustainability is very important to most Badger customers. Instead of creating marketing campaigns that are focused on touting our sustainability efforts, we prefer to lead by example. Once our customers find out about our efforts, they share the information with their co-workers, neighbors, friends and family, and so on. We try not to take a “WE ARE GREAT” standpoint, and instead show our customers know that we’re walking this trail with them… that we’re learning, too.
How do you stay on top of emerging sustainability issues?
By keeping an open mind. Talking to others who are trying new things or seem to be getting it right. And we read. A lot.
What is the most important lesson you've learned in your sustainability journey?
We’ve learned that sustainability is more about process than end results. The very definition of ‘sustainable’ is “able to be used without being used up or destroyed.” “Able to last or continue for a long time.” What business wouldn’t put a premium on sustainability?
Look at the current CEO/CFO climate. Time magazine reported that something like 78% of CFOs would knowingly put their business in jeopardy in order to make quarterly profits for their shareholders. This is the opposite of a sustainable business! Badger business is about doing things the right way, and that includes company climate and supply chain.
Five years from now, what sustainability goals do you hope will be accomplished?
We’re working on increasing our Fair Trade Certified ingredients.
Who or what inspires your company in its sustainability journey?
B Lab, and all of the other B Corps out there! It’s really inspiring to be a part of this movement in business.
Jentri Jollimore has been with Badger’s marketing department since 2008, and active in the natural products industry for more than 10 years. Her knowledge coupled with her passion for all things Badger prompted her role as Product Expert & Educator.