B Corporation – What It Means
We have some big news to share, after many months of hard work behind the scenes we are proud to announce that Between the Sheets is now a Certified B Corporation ®. Certified B Corps meet higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. In the apparel industry this is a huge task, given that apparel manufacturing is the second most polluting industry in the world second only to oil.
We have always made the 3 pillars of sustainability (environmental, economic, and social) a part of our brand, our certification as a B Corp deepens and formalizes this commitment. Transparency and sharing the thought process behind our collections has always been important to us, so things that were too big or too broad to cover in our sustainability statement we have shared on our blog – and some of those ideas have been picked up and carried far and wide across the web like our blog post fast fashion vs. fast food. In the coming months we will share more on the blog on our process of becoming a B Corp and the evolution of our business. In the mean time you can read more about what it means to us to be a B Corporation on our website or our profile & mission statement on B corp.
B Corporation – Why It Matters
As customers we know that ethical and sustainable choices are tough to make, especially when times are tight. As a designer I know that what draws me to brands and collections are designs, functionality, price, so we’ve never really led with our sustainability but let it be the icing on the cake. Opting for you to discover the values that drive us and made in the USA commitment on the care label, or info card we include along with your orders, or perhaps in a hashtag on social media. As the years have gone by, we have noticed a new wave of brands who have adopted the same marketing, and we realized it was becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to tell the difference between brands that really cared and brands that just copied and pasted their ethos from others. It’s easy to re-write something about sustainability and environmental issues giving it a “green wash”, but it’s another thing to be at the forefront and grappling with the balance between wearability, durability, design, and ethical environmental manufacturing.
One of the things that appealed to us about becoming a B Corporation was that you are assessed on a broad number of social, community, environmental, and other criteria. This includes the PERCENTAGE of sales coming from products or services that support or incorporate these important values. One of the things I have noticed is brands who write a really compelling PR pitch but who don’t follow that up with any hard data. Using one green collection or practice to basically greenwash their company and enjoy all the feel good sales that come with it. Not all of our collections are as environmentally friendly as others, but for sure all of them are made ethically and in NYC where environmental energy standards, and labor standards are both stringent & strictly enforced. A brand that claims to be using eco-friendly fabrics but producing in a country with little to no environmental standards for manufacturing could be using machines powered by coal-burning plants and dumping excess dyes in rivers – practices that we are still trying to recover from here in NYC (my husband would know he spent 6 years advocating for a cleaner Hudson River for the environmental NGO Riverkeeper).
We know it’s hard enough to shop for products that look good, feel good, wash easily, fit properly, and fit your taste for color and design – so the last thing you want to worry about is how a product is made and its’ impact on the environment, so our goal with becoming a B Corp was to make sure our customers know we are actually walking the walk and not just talking the talk.
There are certifications for fair trade, but they don’t include places that already have higher wage standards like the USA and Europe, and they certainly don’t track environmental standards or concerns of producing in the countries they cover. There are environmental certifications of factories, of fabrics, but they don’t quite cover the many things that go into the operating of a brand & making of a product. With B Corporation we’re committing to tracking IT ALL – how much water we use at our office (it’s a shared studio so that’s kinda hard), what percentage of energy we use is from renewable sources, what our waste is in production, what percentage of items we SELL are organic, chemical free, and much more (the qualification of SALES is important, it keeps us honest because collections designed for PR do not count!).
Small businesses are naturally lean, but not naturally green – if you are taking care in how you spend your dollars with ethically made brands, imagine our decisions – with everything from boxes, to mailers, to paper we must consider each choice and are always hunting for better and more sustainable ways to make, store, and ship product, all on top of the already huge task of designing and marketing it.
Making undergarments in a sustainable way means always looking for the next innovation in design or materials. We can’t go back to the dark ages of rigid fabrics and materials without spandex, these just don’t function for modern undergarments. New developments in textiles are coming out every day and we are always looking to move ever closer to our goals of being a greener company. At the same time not all of them apply to intimate apparel and sleepwear (I don’t think most of our fans are gonna be into vegan fruit leather underwear) and sometimes if a material is so new its durability may be untested and it can be prohibitively expensive and won’t price out once we add our Made in NYC labor costs. Again, those are the concerns that we weigh, and that you won’t have to think about when you buy from us. You can keep coming back knowing that each year our goal is to be an improving version of ourselves – because sustainability is not a destination it is a journey, tomorrow we will be better and we hope you will continue to show your support for our brand and share in that journey.
We’d love to hear from you in the comments: if you have questions about B corporations or a specific ethical or environmental issue we’ll try to answer them here where other fans and customers can see our responses. We’re committed to remaining transparent and that means if you have questions or want to know why we made something a certain way, just ask us!