9 March 2023

B Corp

We are a flower business that tries to do good in an industry where there is plenty of bad. But we would say that, wouldn’t we?

Like other businesses in our situation we are susceptible to accusations of green-washing, white-washing and other unenviable types of washing. When you take a look around, this suggestion is totally understandable. If you visit the “About Us” or “CSR” pages of the businesses in our industry there is plenty about their “Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality” or “Sustainability Plan”.

Intentions are certainly a good thing, we’re glad people intend to do better.

The difficulty from our perspective is that it can be tricky to pick apart what businesses are actually doing from what they intend to do. As a business that is trying to act now, what we really needed is some sort of external, unbiased, third party assessment of this. Luckily this exists. It’s called B Corp.

Certified B Corporations, or B Corps, are companies verified by B Lab to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Businesses go through a grueling assessment – which in our case has taken over a year and a half – to analyse the different facets of their organisation and their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to each of these factors. Scores are attributed to each area and then combined to see whether the total score meets the B Corp threshold. This is the technical explanation, but for us the more important layman’s terms definition is that B Corp certification is a means of not having to take an organisation’s word for it that they’re doing business the right way.

You may have guessed by now, but last week Petalon Limited became B Corp certified.

We are a business run by three people who were born and raised in England, and are therefore quite uncomfortable bragging about our achievements. Furthermore, B Corp’s promotional guidance discourages us from talking about our status in comparison to other B Corps. But we hope you’ll indulge us for a moment. We are the only B Corp certified florist in the UK, the only one certified in Europe, indeed only the second B Corp florist in the world. We are very proud of this and wanted to mention it out loud. OK, we’ll stop now, all of this showing off is making us squirmy.

“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” – The Red Queen

We are not done. When we complete our assessment with Climate Partner each year to maintain our carbon neutrality we are determined to reduce our footprint, and have done so thus far year on year. Similarly, we will score higher every single time we complete a B Corp assessment.

In the environmental sphere we can definitely do better in two areas. One is the continued reduction of imported flowers and the increase of those we grow ourselves. We will double the proportion of flowers we grow here this year and will do the same again next year. The second big area for improvement here is measurement. Because we run off renewable energy and our water cycle is almost entirely contained within our own farm we have not been measuring water or energy usage. This will change!

In the social sphere some of you will have noticed we have begun collecting donations to the Cornish Food Bank. We’ll talk about this in more detail on the blog in the coming weeks, but we’re proud to say we’re currently providing thousands of meals each month to those who cannot afford them.

B Corp also made suggestions about how we might offer even higher levels of transparency to our customers in terms of the way we do business. We will be enacting these changes in the coming months, many of which are based around the information available on our website, so watch this space.

To those looking at B Corp certification for their organisation.

We’ve spoken to a lot of people who have either begun this journey or who are considering it. We have plenty to say about this.

-Do not do it lightly. It is not an easy process and will require a lot of energy and patience. The early stages are in very broad strokes, but as the process continues and the different areas funnel down you end up with a barely plausible level of detail across the board. Bigger companies have people or teams dedicated to the process.

-Do not expect it to be fast. It took us about 20 months from start to finish. It probably could have been done faster, but not a lot faster. Each assessment takes a lot of time in and of itself, but there are also gaps for B Corp to digest the information and these can be long because of the level of detail covered.

-Do stuff rather than promising to do stuff. Points are available, as they rightly should be, for policies and legal commitments for your organisation to behave in a certain way in future. However considerably more are on the table for those who are already doing these things.

So there you have it. You’ll start to see the B Corp logo on our website, boxes, messages cards, basically wherever we can shoehorn it in because hey, we’re dead proud of what we’ve achieved here. But please don’t think we’re done, we are far from perfect and will keep pushing. If you have any questions about the B Corp process then we’d be happy to share our experiences and offer advice, just drop an email to [email protected] and they’ll make sure it gets to the right person.

Special thanks to Becki and Bea, the Petalon B Corp legends for steering us through the process. Your patience is superhuman.

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