The Family Owned Company Fighting Climate Change by Achieving Net Zero Emissions by 2030
with Rebecca Hamilton, Co-CEO of Badger Balm
W hat’s the last thing you purchased? Let’s say it was lip balm: encased in petroleum-based virgin plastic that was manufactured, shipped to the retailer, packed with refined ingredients from around the globe, and shipped back out to you.
Unfortunately, every step of this process consumes fossil fuels that contribute to global warming and exacerbate the effects of climate change.
Luckily, companies have begun to include climate-related practices into their business models that put the environment top of mind. In the fight against climate change, it’s imperative that every sector conducts assessments to rethink their impact on global warming and create a climate policy that includes clean energy, energy efficiency, and an investigation of their supply chains. Without these changes, 215 of the 500 largest corporations are actually at risk for losing $1 trillion in costs as the effects of climate change alter the conditions that allow businesses to thrive. That number doesn’t even touch small or locally-owned businesses.
Companies as large as Google or as small as W.S. Badger Co. are making enormous strides in reducing their environmental impact and moving towards zero emissions. Becoming carbon neutral is no small feat and Badger Balm is extending beyond carbon neutrality by including other greenhouse gas emissions in their climate action plan.
Cory spoke with Co-CEO Rebecca Hamilton of Badger on the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation podcast about how Badger, a family-owned business, is uniquely positioned to put planet-friendly profits first.
Climate Change Fighting Companies: B Corp Climate Collective
The B Corp Climate Collective was formed by a group of B Corp Certified businesses to provoke action around climate change. Together, the Collective utilizes their unique skill sets and assets to stop greenhouse gas emissions. At the COP25 Conference in Madrid in 2019, a group of B Corp leaders announced their collective ambition and commitment to be Net Zero by 2030.
This is the most aggressive climate action effort ever declared by businesses and the movement is gaining new members constantly.
For a company to be Net Zero by 2030, they must offset all emissions, thus achieving neutrality. Offsetting means that for all greenhouse gas emissions their manufacturing, packaging, and delivery processes emit, the company will remove that same amount of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere through tree planting or direct carbon removal and capture. Net Zero encapsulates more than just carbon dioxide, which holds these companies to a very rigorous standard.
Various scopes of emissions are evaluated and reported annually to the B Corp Climate Collective. Scope 1 emissions are from owned sources like a campus or factory, Scope 2 are indirect emissions from the purchasing of energy, and Scope 3 are the indirect emissions that are in the value chain of the company.
In order for the effects of climate change to subside, companies have a duty to put more good into the world than bad. A number of environmentally friendly companies are taking a stand in their own way, outside the B Corp community. Tesla has revolutionized the automobile industry and reduced carbon emissions by creating a more sustainable product that has a smaller impact on the planet both in design and function. Tesla’s 2018 Impact Report outlines the company’s indirect emissions and their plan to combat greenhouse gas emissions long term to ensure a business that does more good than harm.
Badger Balm: A Family-Owned Company of Climate Activists
When founder Bill Whyte kept struggling with rough, calloused hands as a result of building eco-friendly homes throughout New England with his contracting company, he decided to make a balm remedy from scratch. Nearly 25 years later, Badger has become an innovative leader at the forefront of environmental responsibility and work-life balance in the personal care industry.
Badger only uses organic ingredients that are aligned with their values of healthy agriculture, minimal processing, and sustainable supply chains. Because Badger is family owned and now run by Collaborative Executive Officers and sisters Rebecca and Emily, the company is not beholden to investors. This unique position allows them to consciously invest in what they truly believe in: nourishing the planet and their employees with unparalleled standards and benefits. A group of optimists, the leaders of Badger envision a utopian future where their products can do more good than harm.
Once Badger completed the B Impact Assessment, they saw the true value in the community. As one of the B Corp Climate Collective members, Badger has committed to be Net Zero by 2030 and is in the process of introducing a solar project to their grounds in New Hampshire.
In partnership with Revision Solar, Badger is implementing one of the largest ground and roof solar arrays in the region. The energy generated from these solar panels is on track to offset 636,000 pounds of carbon pollution annually and will power both their manufacturing process and grounds. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Badger was able to employ people to work outside on this project in a socially distanced, safe environment.
This transition to renewable energy feeds their mission as a company to have a positive impact on the environment while still providing their products to the public.
Rebecca Hamilton, Co-CEO of Badger
Second generation family owner and Co-Collaborative Executive Officer Rebecca entered the business to make an impact on environmental responsibility and climate change.
A reluctant entrepreneur, Rebecca thought business was a dirty word and would have rather done activism work. However, the strength of the companies in the B Corp community who are mission-driven and exist to provide a positive impact first and not as an afterthought, were a source of inspiration for her.
“That’s why my sister and I are part of this business. And it would be a lot less interesting to us if it was just kind of money for the sake of money, that’s not really what drives us. ”
Rebecca’s goal is for Badger to have a more positive impact on the planet than negative. In an ideal world, she’d like to rethink petroleum based plastic and mined metal packaging. Even though the plastic is post-consumer, the purchase still relies on fossil fuels. This proves just how much Badger is looking to make an impact on the planet in the most beneficial way for all parties.
The Badger Balm Family, from left to right: Co-CEO Emily Schwerin-Whyte, COO Katie Schwerin, Founder Bill Whyte, and Co-CEO Rebecca Hamilton
What Can Businesses Do to Prevent Climate Change?
Assess your greenhouse gas emissions to have a baseline of fossil fuel consumption and make a plan to offset these emissions by planting trees or purchasing carbon offsets.
Pivot to renewable energy options like solar, which often has low startup costs and high financial gains, paired with a positive impact on the planet.
Green the Chain
Analyze the products you’re selling and their supply chains. What are their life cycles? Do these products promote mindless consumption? Find places in the supply chain to use recycled materials, post-consumer waste, or plant-based dyes.
Closing: Tough Like a Badger
As its name suggests, W.S. Badger Co, is “fierce and effective in defense of the self and family and persistent in overcoming obstacles, successfully seeing projects through to the end.”
When businesses join in the fight against climate change, a ripple effect occurs that brings in more support and resources. This normalizes the entire movement and makes a new status quo for environmental protection among for-profits.
Commerce is never going to stop. We need products to exist on this planet, but we can make purchasing decisions with companies that align with our ethos to protect the planet more than harm it.
Let’s band together to prevent damage to this planet, like a bunch of badgers.
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