A Little Green

S1 E3: What products can I trust?

Episode Summary

S1 E3: In this episode, Christina focuses her attention on greenwashing. It’s one of those big bad words of environmentalism, and it can be kind of tricky to spot. So, how do you avoid greenwashed products? How much does your dollar actually matter? And what are companies really doing to act on climate change?

Episode Notes

S1 E3: We make decisions about what to buy (and who to buy it from) every day. Choosing environmentally-responsible products and brands is important to many of us, especially in light of what’s happening with our climate. But these choices can be difficult to make when we’re surrounded by persuasive advertising and most of us don’t have the time to research every bottle of detergent or pair of shoes. 

In this episode, Christina focuses her attention on greenwashing. It’s one of those big bad words of environmentalism, and it can be kind of tricky to spot. Many of the products we use in our daily life are subject to greenwashing -- even bank accounts! So, how do you avoid greenwashed products? How much does your dollar actually matter? And what are companies really doing to act on climate change?

Christina brings these questions and more to a few people who are determined to combat greenwashing. First, she catches up with Avocado’s Director of Sustainability and Impact, Bri Decker, to hear about how Avocado is communicating its impact to customers.

Bri shares that there are legitimate, rigorous certifications and labels that brands can pursue to verify and convey their environmental practices. So, Christina chats with representatives of these certifications to learn more. They include Climate Neutral, 1% for the Planet, and B Lab’s B Corp certification.

Going beyond specific certifications, Christina talks with Raj Aggarwal of the B Corp Climate Collective about how business leaders can and should be approaching climate action, specifically through climate justice. Ali-Reza Vahabzadeh of the American Sustainable Business Council also shares how the organization is advocating for these priorities legislatively.




Episode Transcription

Jacqueline: What should you not buy? 

John: What actually is greenwashing anyway? 

Voices: Greenwashing. Greenwashing. Greenwashing. Greenwashing. Greenwashing. Greenwashing. Greenwashing. Greenwashing. Greenwashing. Greenwashing.

Laura: What is greenwashing?

[Shopping scanner buzzes]

[00:00:21] Christina Thompson: Ah, yes, shopping. A guilty pleasure for some and a weekly chore for others. I think I probably fall smack dab in the middle of these two poles, but if there's one constant when it comes to spending, it's that we all do it. We make decisions about what to buy and what we can buy and where to make these purchases every single day. These decisions are often a matter of convenience and, many times, good advertising. But this term greenwashing is one that's been popping up more and more these days and one that many of my friends were quite curious about when I told them I was doing this podcast. In the last episode, we spent a lot of time talking about the individual, but this concept of greenwashing is one that falls squarely on the shoulders of quote unquote industry.

So what exactly is greenwashing? How do I know when I'm being greenwashed? And can I avoid it? I'm Christina Thompson and this is A Little Green podcast.

[Ad break]

[00:01:28] Jessica: Hey there. I'm Jessica and I run the brand team for Avocado. In 2019 Avocado Green became the first mattress company to become Climate Neutral certified, effectively making our business carbon neutral. A year later, we decided to take it a step further by going carbon negative, which means we offset more carbon emissions than we generate. Avocado works with Climate Neutral to reduce our emissions. Then we measure and voluntarily offset more than a hundred percent of our emissions, from resource extraction to shipping, by supporting carbon offset projects through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Our offset projects help mitigate climate change and support innovation in addressing greenhouse gas, emission reductions. But we don't stop there. We also know that solving the climate crisis will require systematic changes. That's why we advocate for legislation that will support a safer, healthier home for us all. Avocado Green. It's better for you. It's better for the planet. 

[End of break]

[00:02:29] Anna McClain: All right, let's do our “one, two, three, and clap” all at once.

[00:02:35] Bri Decker, Anna McClain, and Christina Thompson: One...two...three... 

[Clap, laughter]

[00:02:45] Christina Thompson: Remind me, when did you join Avocado? Like how long ago was that? 

[00:02:48] Bri Decker: My four year anniversary was just a few days ago, actually. 

[00:02:51] Christina Thompson: Oh, wow. 

[00:02:52] Bri Decker: I started in 2017. 

[00:02:54] Christina Thompson: So maybe just say your, your name and title, and then we'll do the rest of the conversation. 

[00:02:59] Bri Decker: So I'm Bri Decker and my title is Sustainability and Social Impact Manager, or Director. I'm not, you know, I don't know, I don't know what I am at this point. 

[00:03:10] Christina Thompson: That would be my coworker Bri acting modest. She plays a huge role within our company, and one that I was very interested in learning about when I first joined Avocado myself. 

You're one of the first people I wanted to talk to when I joined the company.

[00:03:22] Bri Decker: Aw.

[00:03:23] Christina Thompson: I think you remember me running up to you at the Christmas party. 

[00:03:26] Bri Decker: I remember meeting you and you were like, "yeah, you're the person I wanted to talk to." And I was like, "I don't know you, but I want to talk to you too!" 

[00:03:33] Christina Thompson: So nerdy. 


Every day, Bri manages Avocado's sustainability agenda, helping us maintain its integrity. She makes sure that our processes are certified, that we “walk the walk” when we “talk the talk,” so to speak. All so that our company can communicate what we do and how we do it accurately to the world. And I've learned that that accuracy is key. Without it, well, now you're in greenwashing territory. Bri pointed me in the direction of a couple experts in this space. Kate Williams and Austin Whitman. 

How would you define greenwashing? 

[00:04:10] Kate Williams: I would define greenwashing as saying you're doing good things for the planet broadly defined and having your words not align with what you're actually doing. So, like, making yourself sound sort of better or greener than you actually are. 

[00:04:25] Austin Whitman: The practice of making a claim about your environmental work or commitment that is deceptively large relative to the work that you're actually doing. 

[00:04:42] Christina Thompson: We'll hear a lot more from them later. But the message is clear: greenwashing is a form of false or misleading advertising. It's when companies say they're more environmentally friendly than they actually are. Talk about a minefield. Because, as consumers like you and me are becoming more and more interested in the way that our favorite products affect the environment, many brands see that as an opportunity. Some companies are capitalizing on that very appetite for sustainability by exaggerating or even falsely reporting their actual impact. And voila, greenwashing. 

In a world with this dizzying array of options of products and labels and ads, how do we know if we're being greenwashed? What tells us that we can trust one product over another? 

[00:05:27] Kate Williams: What are some of those labels that consumers can trust? That you could say “yes, if you see this, this is something that actually matters and it's not, uh, an example of greenwashing.”

[00:05:38] Austin Whitman: It's important to understand who sits behind a label. There are companies that, that create their own marketing slogans or labels, put them on their website as if they were a third-party endorsement based on a third-party framework. And if you don't understand that, it can appear that somebody has blessed the practices that you're adopting.

[00:06:00] Christina Thompson: Austin, who we briefly heard from earlier, is the CEO of Climate Neutral. It's one of a few certifications that brands can pursue to verify their environmental actions, so you know they're actually doing what they say. 

[00:06:12] Austin Whitman: We do a lot of work with 1% for the Planet and with B Lab. They're very different organizations, although, you know, the three of us tend to be, often, a triumvirate of labels. 1% for the Planet is a very credible label because they audit a company's financials and then look at what share of their revenues were donated to environmental causes. And B Lab has a very rigorous auditing framework for business practices.

[00:06:37] Christina Thompson: Okay. This triumvirate, to use an “Austin word” I so rarely get to say, includes three distinct certifications: Climate Neutral, 1% for the Planet, and B Lab. We're going to talk much more about what each of these labels mean, but for my own sanity, let's do a quick breakdown.

Climate Neutral indicates that accompany is reducing or balancing its carbon emissions, those greenhouse gases that cause climate change. 

[00:07:06] Austin Whitman: It felt like too many companies were doing very little and claiming carbon neutrality of some sort, and that that needed to be standardized, and that we could try to avoid misperceptions by creating a common definition built around a single recognizable symbol, which is the Climate Neutral certified label, with a single set of rules behind it. 

[00:07:31] Christina Thompson: 1% for the Planet means that the company is giving 1% of its annual sales to environmental non-profits. Here's their CEO Kate once again. 

[00:07:39] Kate Williams: We are a global network of members and nonprofits and our members are businesses, and also individuals, primarily businesses. The way it works is that our members commit to giving 1% of their annual sales to environmental nonprofits.

[00:07:55] Christina Thompson: And finally, B Lab is behind the B Corp certification, which shows that a company meets social and environmental standards. 

[00:08:02] Raj Aggarwal: A B Corp is a business that has decided to use the power of business as a force for good. So when they're evaluating their impact, they're not just looking at their profitability, but they're looking at their impact on stakeholders.

[00:08:16] Christina Thompson: That's Raj Aggarwal. He's the founder of the B Corp Provoc

There's a word that was mentioned that I want to dig into a bit, stakeholder. Not shareholder, but stakeholder. This might be obvious to some people, but I've learned that this word represents a very distinct and fairly new way of doing business.

[00:08:35] Raj Aggarwal: Stakeholder capitalism refers to: I consider the benefit of all of my stakeholders, including shareholders, but also my workers, the communities that I work in, the suppliers that I work with, and all the people that are part of my general ecosystem, and ensuring the wellbeing of all of those members of the business ecosystem. 

[00:08:56] Christina Thompson: This form of capitalism makes a lot of sense, right? The people and parties who are affected by a business are considered in its actions. But this really isn't how companies have traditionally functioned at all. Raj explained how our typical system works; shareholder capitalism. 

[00:09:13] Raj Aggarwal: If I'm a shareholder of a company, I own shares of a publicly traded company, and therefore as the company does well I earn income from it. If the company doesn't earn well, I don't earn income from it. A shareholder is one stakeholder. So it's like really looking through the entire supply chain and all the people that you touch, versus just thinking, "well, if I don't return this to my shareholders, then they're going to replace me or they're going to do something else." Because the purpose of a business is to earn money for their shareholders. Which I completely do not believe. It's been the wrong narrative for a long time. 

[00:09:49] Christina Thompson: So as it relates to the climate and the environment, what would you say is the business world's relationship with that historically?

[00:09:56] Raj Aggarwal: In the last 50 years, we've made very little changes when it comes to climate change and we're continuing to go off the cliff that we all know is imminent. And we also know that the business case for climate change is irrefutable and that businesses are the largest contributors to greenhouse gases. So they're the ones that are most responsible for making the change.

[00:10:18] Christina Thompson: This stakeholder model puts the responsibility on the company. It's an alternative way of thinking about things, and B Corp is at the forefront of this change. To be certified as a B Corp, companies are evaluated on their entire social and environmental performance. Over 4,000 companies specializing in everything from beer and cheese to insurance and banking are committed to this kind of model. Maybe you've seen that B Corp label before. It's the letter B with a circle around it. Many of these very B Corps are also certified Climate Neutral. 

[00:10:52] Austin Whitman: So the basic certification process involves a first step of measuring carbon emissions, which is something that every company should be doing, regardless of whether they decide to become certified by us or be carbon neutral in any way. It's as basic and fundamental as just sort of knowing what your revenues are and what your expenses are. Measuring carbon emissions is both a very simple exercise and a very complicated exercise. 

So beginning with the simple parts of it, all you're trying to do is just quantify the business activities that you engaged in over the course of a year, and then use a set of what are called emission factors, which tell you how much carbon you created from doing those business activities.

[00:11:40] Christina Thompson: Every purchase that we make has its own little carbon footprint — you know, just like how we're all little mini volcanoes — from making the product to shipping it. And those carbon emissions add up and they contribute to climate change. So Climate Neutral holds companies accountable to that footprint. 

[00:11:57] Austin Whitman: The business activity could be flying a mile on an airplane or it could be purchasing a certain amount of wool or cotton and using it in a manufacturing process. It could be placing an order to deliver a ton of freight. So it could be any number of things. And then the next step that we require, and this is the basis for the carbon neutrality designation, is once you've measured all your emissions for a year, you have to purchase carbon credits to clean up that carbon for the year. 

[00:12:28] Christina Thompson: Carbon credits, or carbon offsets, are kind of similar to those plastic credits we talked about with the founder of rePurpose in our last episode. 

[00:12:36] Austin Whitman: And then the third step is we ask companies to look across their operations and come up with reduction measures that they're going to implement. This means finding ways to reduce carbon emissions from directly within their operations over the next 12 to 24 months so that they can really start to settle on a path toward bringing their footprint down over time.

It's a label that cuts across all kinds of different product categories from, of course, mattresses and pillows to footwear and an increasing number of food and beverage companies. So we'd love to be the label that people just learn to look for when they're buying things, that they can just reflexively say, "hey, that thing has got the label, therefore I'm going to buy that one and, and not buy the thing without the label." And in five years would love to have thousands and thousands of companies or, or brands certified to the point that we're actually having a real impact on a large amount of carbon emissions. 

There's all these net zero pledges, 2050 net zero commitments and promises, but the really important question is how is that shifting? How is that changing what a company's investing in today? 

[00:13:49] Christina Thompson: By net zero, he means that the amount of greenhouse gas emissions is reduced or balanced out by the amount removed. 

[00:13:56] Joe Biden [Summit on Climate Remarks]: Hundreds of billions of dollars are already being invested worldwide every year, supporting projects to help build resilient economies with net zero emission goals. But the private sector has more it can do and must do. 

[00:14:12] Austin Whitman: We all know that 30 years is a time horizon that businesses just don't plan against. Most businesses won't even be around in 30 years. And the important thing is, what are we investing today? What are the dollars that are actually going into that work today? If we don't reduce emissions by a certain amount by a certain time within the next 10 years, and then 20 years, life on Earth is going to really suck in 2100.

[00:14:38] Christina Thompson: If reducing our carbon emissions is key to reversing climate change, Climate Neutral seems like the kind of thing that every company should be able to get on board with. So, what will it take to get there? 

[00:14:48] Austin Whitman: We've had, you know, CEOs of larger companies say to us, "if you can show me that my consumers care about it then we'll do this, and otherwise we're not going to do it".

[00:14:58] Christina Thompson: That's a pretty powerful statement right there, like that it really is in the power of the consumer. 

[00:15:03] Austin Whitman: It's an invitation, it's an invitation to us to show that consumers care about it. And it's an invitation to consumers to show that they care about it. It's no secret, right? Businesses do things because they know that they're gonna be able to sell products to consumers. It's like, you know, it's the way commerce works. And so it shouldn't be a surprise that if a consumer says something is really important, or enough consumers say something is really important, that a business will react. 

[00:15:29] Christina Thompson: Austin made another good point, and it's one I've witnessed personally at Avocado. Most companies are made up of really well-intentioned people and the workplace itself can be a platform for change.

[00:15:39] Austin Whitman: You can be as skeptical as you want about evil companies doing evil things, but I truly think that people who work within companies are eager to do more than they know how to do and want to do more than they're currently doing. Give them a shovel, tell them where to dig, and make it simple, and way more people will get involved.

[00:16:05] Christina Thompson: So why 1%? 

[00:16:07] Kate Williams: The 1% number kind of came about because it's both, like, small and big, and compelling and meaningful, but also manageable. And it's also like a real number. So 1% of sales is not nothing. A lot of times we'll have people say, "well, shouldn't it be more than 1%?" It's like, if you've ever run a business, you know, especially in some industries, it's an enormous commitment. And so it's really meaningful in that regard. 

[00:16:30] Christina Thompson: While Climate Neutral focuses on this important and carbon specific math equation, 1% [for the Planet] looks at a very broad range of environmental and social justice issues, including emissions. I asked Kate to tell me more about how their model combats greenwashing. 

[00:16:45] Kate Williams: We are a third-party certification. We want consumers to know that because we want consumers to be holding up products or looking at services and thinking like, "which is the one that actually is better for the planet?" And 1% for the Planet can be a signal of that. And, you know, consumers, none of us have that much time. So consumers need to have those really clear credible signals that they can absorb quickly. I'm a consumer too. So like I do too, if I'm standing in the aisle or if I'm making a choice online, like, you know, it can be way too easy to get sucked into, as you were saying, like some statement that has no backup. 

So again, I think certification bodies are super important and it's really important to, you know, test them every now and then. Go on their websites, see how do they do their certifications? Like I think, you know, as consumers, we do need to make quick decisions a lot of times, but we also need to take the time to, you know, in the same way that we read food labels because we're thoughtful about what we put in our bodies, you know, we need to be thoughtful about what goes on our shelves or in our bank account or, you know, wherever in our lives.

[00:17:46] Christina Thompson: Kate shared another piece of wisdom for us to keep in mind when looking at any brand or certification. 

[00:17:51] Kate Williams: Transparency, in my mind, is way more important than perfection. You know, and I would actually have your, like, radar up if, you know, there's a perception of perfection because almost no company is doing everything right. What you want is to know what they're doing and know what they're working on. And so I think if there's not a certification, or even if there is a certification, like expecting and demanding transparency. 

[00:18:15] Christina Thompson: Transparency and progress over perfection. Got it. 

One of the big questions that I was given, like when we started the podcast was just, I asked a lot of my friends, like, what are your basic questions? And a through-line with all of that is kind of like, how is an individual really actually going to make a difference? 

[00:18:33] Kate Williams: I mean, we get that question a lot too, and it's a good one. And it's one that I think is really important in my mind to think about in terms of both the, like, actual impact and then sort of the “how you show up” impact.

So, you know, the actual impact is that like, yeah, actually, if you're, you know, thinking about what you eat and where what you eat comes from, if you're thinking about what you buy and you know, all of the different features of what you buy, if you're thinking about where you bank, you know, the decisions you do get to make in your life. If you think about those, you become one of an increasing number of people who are saying, I'm going to make the change that I can. If you were the only person alone doing those things, it actually wouldn't change the world. But if you do those things, you're doing it with other people and that does drive change because there's that collective impact.

And you also, like for me, this is really important, you stay engaged and hopeful because it's actually kind of, it is cynical if you're like, "well, my actions don't matter, so I'm not going to do anything." So I just think that kind of acting with hope and with optimism and with engagement with others is really important.

[00:19:37] Christina Thompson: Okay. So now we have three different, but complimentary certifications in our back pocket: B Corp, 1% for the Planet, and Climate Neutral. Now, when we're feeling lost in the supermarket or drugstore about which products to choose, we can look for those trusted icons and know we're making a good choice, the greener choice and not the greenwashed choice.

Avocado is certified by all three of these organizations. Their commitment to the environment is the main reason I joined the company in the first place. 

[00:20:07] Bri Decker: I think it's really cool because a lot of organizations, you know, people that are working in my title for example, or in my position are fighting uphill battles. But the difference in our cases is that the founders are very motivated by this. You know, they've always said, "we want to be a platform for change and our methodology to enable that change is by selling mattresses or whatever other products that we're breaking into," you know. 

[00:20:32] Christina Thompson: The founders of the company saw an opportunity to offer something more tangible when it came to sustainability. They knew that to be a truly green brand, they needed to go beyond “words on a wall” and build rigorous processes and certifications into the DNA of the company. And so they did. 

[00:20:50] Bri Decker: When you start to go down the road of the B Corp application, you realize how much more there is still to be done. It's like, we're looked upon within the industry and by other companies that even aren't within our industry, and they're like, "wow, you're doing so much. You're embodying so much of what it means to be, like, a sustainable, you know, positive-change, impact business." But when you look at the different methodologies that are available to kind of measure, you realize how much more you can still do. So it's like, the sky is the limit and there's just a lot of potential to keep excelling with all of that. 

[00:21:27] Christina Thompson: I want to talk more about collective action, like Kate mentioned. Maybe this is one of those bigger "we's" that Katharine Wilkinson was talking about in our first episode. 

[00:21:36] Katharine Wilkinson: We need to be thinking about how we can be part of bigger collectives, bigger "we's." Whether that is in our workplace or in our civic life of our community or our city. These are actually the places where there are kind of bigger levers for change. 

[00:21:56] Christina Thompson: And Raj's initiative, B Corp Climate Collective, is a perfect example of a bigger "we."

[00:22:01] Raj Aggarwal: A group of B Corps came together. And some of the largest B Corps include groups like Danone, Dr. Bronner's, Patagonia, Seventh Generation, a lot of really well-known consumer brands. And they had decided that what they needed to do is do collective action. And climate was the top of mind for them. And in the past year, we've made a real pivot towards focusing on rooting our climate action in climate justice. I'm the co-lead of the B Corp Climate Collective Climate Justice Task Force. 

[00:22:36] Christina Thompson: Climate Justice Task Force sounds like a modern day superhero show that my nephews would watch. So, where does this justice piece come in? What is climate justice? 

[00:22:45] Raj Aggarwal: It means advancing climate solutions that link human rights and development and a human centered approach, placing the needs, voices and leadership of those who are most impacted at the forefront. And so when you think about the way climate action has been addressed, it's often like one size fits all. We're just going to reduce our carbon, this is how we're going to do it, we're going to get to carbon neutral, this is how we're going to do it. But the fact is that isn't going to be enough. And so what we also know is that these communities that are most impacted by climate change, most likely, they have the solutions on what will work best in their community and how to engage their community in the solution itself.

[00:23:23] Christina Thompson: If you think about it, this approach seems kind of applicable to my life outside of work. Like it could inform other areas of climate action as well. 

[00:23:31] Raj Aggarwal: Being on a climate justice learning journey means thinking more about progress versus about checking boxes. It means that the journey is not linear. It means that no matter how big or how small your company is that you can have an impact. It means it's really important to listen really critically and not think that you have the answer, and thinking that you need to have the answer. I think that's also something that gets a lot of us in trouble. It means starting close at home and what you can do really close in your community, because again, if we're talking about stakeholders, the people that we are most close to are the ones that we probably can have the greatest impact on. 

[00:24:10] Christina Thompson: Raj told me more about the types of injustices they're addressing. 

[00:24:13] Raj Aggarwal: There are five inequities of climate change: that the degree of responsibility for those who bear the least responsibility for climate change are the ones who suffer the most. And so while some people are seeing it now, imagine the people that have been experiencing impacts of climate change for the last 20 or 30 years. 

We know that impact happens on lower income regions, and we know that there are intergenerational impacts. Younger generations will suffer these consequences more greatly than their parents and grandparents. 

And lastly, gender disparity. Women and children are more likely to die than men during disasters. And so I think that when you start to think about climate justice versus climate action, we really start thinking about ourselves, our companies, our communities, and all the things that we can do as individuals to impact climate change.

[00:25:03] Christina Thompson: When it comes to being climate justice stewards ourselves, Raj says there are eight very important questions we need to ask first. 

[00:25:11] Raj Aggarwal: One, is why is climate justice important? 

Two, who bears the cost of climate change? 

Three, how does climate injustice impact you and your family? 

Four, what can you do personally to evolve your heart and mind on climate justice?

Five, how are you personally advancing climate justice? 

How does climate injustice impact your business? 

How is your business advancing climate justice? 

And what barriers do you or your company face? 

And so the reason the questions are that way is it really starts with self and understanding how one is being impacted personally, and then understanding how the company plays a role in it. 

The word that really comes to mind for me is, how am I complicit? What am I ignoring for my own convenience because I have power and privilege that allows me to forgo something that I know because it's convenient to me in the moment or it provides me something that I think that I need? I think that these are essential questions and I think that we've made it impersonal, again, not only for the people that are most impacted, but for ourselves. And therefore what we've done is a natural human phenomena, which is protect ourselves from the reality of what this really means for us.

[00:26:33] Christina Thompson: In the many interviews I've been lucky enough to conduct while producing the show, so many people have shared how their current path was one that emerged after such personal reflections. It's what caused they themselves to make these massive shifts in their lives towards the climate movement. Huge career and life pivots inspired by change and being a big part of that change. AR Vahabzadeh is one of those people. 

[00:27:06] Ali-Reza Vahabzadeh: I went from, you know, doing something I had been used to doing for, you know, my entire professional career to doing something completely new. So after working in financial services around the world throughout my career, and dealing with some personal challenges, I kind of began looking at the world in a different way. Really making our economy and society more inclusive and equitable. The spark that really catalyzed everything was the birth of my daughter. And just being with her and seeing how much waste we have, especially when you have a young child and diapers and feeding and things like that. 

[00:27:41] Christina Thompson: AR left finance to focus specifically on sustainability. Now he's the Vice President of Membership and Chief of Staff at the American Sustainable Business Council, or ASBC.

[00:27:52] Ali-Reza Vahabzadeh: I became very passionate about the work that we do, as I believe all who are exposed to it would. Especially what we do to create a more just and sustainable economy and engaging the business and investor community on a range of signature issues that we advocate on behalf of, from circular economy to climate change to race inequity to safer chemicals to regenerative agriculture. And the more I got involved in the work, the more I started seeing how all these issues are interrelated, and the more passionate I got about it. 

[00:28:22] Christina Thompson: ASBC is another collective of businesses, and they're working to change public policy. 

[00:28:28] Ali-Reza Vahabzadeh: The American Sustainable Business Council partners with business organizations and companies to advocate for solutions and policies that support an equitable, sustainable, and stakeholder economy. ASBC and our association members collectively represent over 250,000 businesses across size, sectors, and geographies. 

[00:28:48] Christina Thompson: That sounds like the whole B Corp mission. Unsurprisingly, a lot of B Corps are also ASBC members.

[00:28:55] Ali-Reza Vahabzadeh: So some of our leading business members that you would know I'm happy to say are, of course, Avocado Green Brands, Patagonia, Seventh Generation, King Arthur Baking, Mega Food, Nature's Logic, to name a few. 

[00:29:11] Christina Thompson: Essentially, ASBC champions all of the really wonderful things that the B Corps are working towards; sustainability, equity, and justice, but in a legislative arena. So I wanted to know more about the kinds of policies that ASBC is advocating for. 

[00:29:25] Ali-Reza Vahabzadeh: I think what President Biden has said throughout his campaign, and now throughout his presidency, he's identified the four issues he wants his administration to focus on, which is, you know, fighting the pandemic of COVID-19, addressing the structural race and equity issues that we have in our country, identifying that climate change is a national security threat, and finally to understanding that our economy is in disarray and we have to build back better. These four priorities of the Biden administration are issues that ASBC has worked on since our inception. And to give an example of this is that we had Gina McCarthy on a webinar with us.

[00:30:07] Christina Thompson: Gina McCarthy, National Climate Advisor, Biden-appointed, badass. Google her.

[00:30:12] Ali-Reza Vahabzadeh: And she said something on the webinar that really stuck to me -- I wrote it down because I thought it was very important. I'll just share it with you. She said that sustainability is not a single dimension issue. It is multifaceted and intersectional. We have to infuse this intersectional thinking in everything that happens across the federal government. And that kind of hit my heart because we can't just rely on the government to do things. We can't just rely on businesses to do things. We have to do things ourselves. We have to educate our family members, our community, our peers, our friends about the things that we're doing, because this is going to require a collective effort.

I think if there's one thing I want people to take away from this discussion it’s that change is possible. Change is something that traditionally humans fear the most. I'm also sometimes very apprehensive and terrified about change. And if I can do it a little bit, there's many people out there that are much better than me and can do it in a much better way.

[00:31:14] Christina Thompson: What I'm getting from all of these conversations is that the line between the personal, the professional, and the political is a little blurrier these days. But I think that blurry line actually can work in our favor. The more that we, as consumers and voters, demand collectively, the more change we'll see.

So when I buy, I'm going to make sure that I choose brands with these trusted certifications whenever possible. But honestly, I also think just buying less overall is an important piece to this puzzle. 

Not to sound cheesy, but I'm pretty proud to be part of a company that leads in this space. And I'm going to keep working with my team to find even more ways to push the envelope. You know, like Bri said, the sky is the limit. I mean, they are the ones who let me go off and make this podcast, so clearly they want all of us to be envelope-pushers.

If you want to learn more about these labels, what they look like, and which brands are certified, visit ALittleGreenPodcast.com. Plus you'll find more tools to help you spot and avoid those greenwashed items.

A Little Green is an Avocado Green Brands podcast. This podcast was written and produced by Anna McClain and myself, Christina Thompson, with help from Kelly Drake and Will Watts. The music you heard is by Aaron Levison.