A green world in a tube, are by Artwork courtesy of Annibale Siconolfi | Inward
Artwork courtesy of Annibale Siconolfi | Inward - https://www.annibalesiconolfi.com/

The Guide to Purpose-driven Certifications for Sustainability Focused Businesses

There are a number of certifications your business could qualify for, all with their own set of criteria, including:

Green America offers certification to businesses that are committed to using their organization as a platform for social change. 

Green businesses adopt principles, policies and practices that improve the quality of life for their customers, employees, communities and the planet. It certifies businesses that meet the following criteria

  • Actively use their business as a tool for positive social change
  • Operate a values-driven enterprise according to principles of social justice AND environmental sustainability
  • Environmentally responsible in the way they source, manufacture and market their products and run their operations and facilities
  • Socially equitable and committed to extraordinary practices that benefit workers, customers, communities and the environment
  • Accountable by continually improving and tracking their progress and operating with transparency in every facet of their business

All companies seeking Green Business Certification must meet Green America’s standards for all businesses and also meet or exceed all required standards in their industry.

Fair Trade USA is part of a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, consumers, advocates and organizations putting people and planet first. It certifies whole products, ingredients and multi-ingredient products in five main categories: coffee, produce and floralseafood, apparel and home goods, and consumer packaged goods.

Criteria differ with each category, so contact Fair Trade USA for details.

B Corp Certification is available even if your state doesn’t have a formal legal B Corp entity. These businesses are defined as businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. 

To be certified you must:

Take the impact assessment. After completing the assessment, B Lab will verify your score to determine if your company meets the 80-point bar for certification. Meet virtually with B Lab staff to review your completed B impact assessment and submit confidential documentation to validate your responses. To maintain certification, B Corp updates its BIA and verifies its updated score every three years.

Meet the legal requirements. Certified B corporations are required legally to consider the impact of their decisions on all their stakeholders. B Corp makes this legal change by updating its Articles of Association, reincorporating as benefit companies and benefit corporations, or making other structural changes. The B Corp legal framework helps companies protect mission through capital raises and leadership changes and gives entrepreneurs and directors more flexibility when evaluating potential sale and liquidity options.

Further details on qualifying for B Corp certification can be found here.

The US Green Chamber of Commerce offers a Sustainability Certification Program for individual professionals to provide the foundation to build a successful sustainability platform and implement green practices in your business. Certification classes are done online, so it doesn’t matter where you are. Contact the chamber for more information.

Advice to help you get started

Many colleges have sustainability programs – find one in your area. And if you’re wondering if you’re doing your part, here’s a list of sustainable business practice examples.