Checking "Green" Credentials

Carondelet Dember loves to shop green.

"Well, because I'm interested in using products that go light on the environment and do not have any kind of toxicity in them, because I don't want to smell any of that or have that on my hands or my body, or my children's. And Seventh Generation's been around for a long time."

You may have seen Seventh Generation in the aisles of your local supermarket. Their green leaf logo is a familiar symbol for green buyers. But what you may not know is that they're one of the most successful Benefit Corporations in the country.

B Corps, or Benefit Corporations, are certified based on factors like transparency, how well the employees are treated and how green the buildings are. There are only two in Houston, but Benefit Corporations are hoping to create a new sector of the economy that is socially and environmentally responsible.

"The idea behind B Corps, or Benefit Corporations, is to differentiate companies that say they're green and socially responsible from companies that actually are."

Jeff Kaplan is founder of the B Corp New Living, a green building and home store located in the Rice Village.

Kaplan says it's easy for companies to market themselves as green. But says B Corporations are different.

"We're audited, every year, based on how much social, environmental and economic impact we have on the community, and the standards are increasing every year."

Even lawmakers have taken an interest in B Corps. Eight states will introduce B Corp legislation in the next year. Texas is not one of them. The proposed laws could include tax breaks that would give investors and business owners more incentive to adopt Benefit Corporation practices. Already, twice as many B Corporations have been certified in 2010 than in 2009.

Dave Rapaport is the Director of Corporate Consciousness at Seventh Generation. He estimates five to ten percent of our economy will become B-Corp Certified in the next couple years.

"What that would mean is we'd have a whole lot more of businesses that are doing things for the good of society and the environment as a whole and that could have a huge impact."

If you’re a green consumer like Carondelet Dember, look for the letter “B” in a big circle, on storefronts across the U.S.. That’s the sign you’re dealing with a certified Benefit Corporation, and a new way of doing business.
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