Creating eco tools for your low-waste lifestyle, NZ-based CaliWoods is now a Certified B Corporation. With a keen focus on sustainability education and helping Kiwis reduce their waste, CaliWoods Founder Shay Lawrence shares the journey of becoming a B Corp and some ways to amp up your positive impact on the planet.
Why did CaliWoods want to become a B Corp?
Our timeline from the initial assessment for CaliWoods to being a Certified B Corporation was two and a half years. While we were technically having an impact right from the get-go, we didn’t have the systems and regular measurements in place to back it up.
Those years also gave us more time to grow into the B Corp boots that I knew we could fill and confidently (and publicly) back up any impact-related claims of being a purpose-led business by nature.
As a social enterprise, we already operate in a way that prioritises impact, transparency and sustainability, so becoming a Certified B Corporation felt like a natural step to take.
Having a high calibre certification means that others can see that we meet a high standard that they can trust, and it also means we are part of a movement of purpose-led businesses that are working to set a new standard for the wider business industry.
Can you tell us more about CaliWoods’ impact as a business?
Some of our biggest impact has been in sustainability education. We do our best to accurately measure this impact in terms of engagement with our education posts. It’s really cool when you come across the little things that aren’t exactly measurable in real life but are super impactful.
For example, the other day we met someone who had been to one of our events over three years ago. They explained how much the event, which was a movie viewing on ocean plastic, had re-directed their last few years and they went on a full mission along the Canadian coast recovering discarded fishing gear. Pretty cool!
On the whole, I think what makes us unique is our small business approach but wide distribution. We are a very small team and super dynamic in our approach to impact, being able to change course quickly should we need to.
Our approach is local and we support the ‘small guys’ and you can find CaliWoods products in stores the length and breadth of New Zealand, so we’re proud to have really great brand visibility.
Can you shed some light on what business practices you want to see become the norm?
There are so many but I think the most important is coming from a place of genuine passion and intent. When following your true passions the impact flows naturally.
Everyone has their unique strengths, and this is the same for the people that make up businesses. There’s no greenwashing, no virtue signalling – you’re doing your best to create positive change within the systems we currently have.
Why is inspiring sustainable lifestyles and change through education so important to you?
We understand that living low waste is a very important change that consumers will all eventually have to make for the sake of the planet, so we are here to make that journey a little bit easier.
Providing educational content about climate change and waste is very important to us but we also are aware that too much confronting information can be overwhelming.
This is why we couple our educational content with practical tips and tricks for low waste living and political action to encourage sustainable change across New Zealand across all sectors.
One area we want to do this is in our sustainability education – where we focus on inspiring change on the individual, business and governmental policy level.
We carefully plan out our communications and campaigns months in advance so that we are effectively spreading awareness through practical tips on how to reduce our impact as individuals as well as political engagement opportunities.
We send out educational information via weekly e-newsletters, blogs, weekly stories, posts, and published articles. Our end goal is to engage over 100,000 Kiwis each year with information that inspires positive change. Setting specific and transparent goals about sustainability education and reach keeps us on track and grounded to our purpose.
Can you share why you are so passionate about supporting other businesses to also improve their impact?
The impact of small-medium enterprises (SMEs) here in Aotearoa NZ, and indeed around our region, is not without consequence.
We are a significant part of the economy and we are uniquely positioned to be able to pivot and innovate with our dynamic structures.
With the profitability of the social enterprise sector proven over and over again, the queue to be assessed as a B Corp is longer than ever before, and customers are actively seeking to support good things through their purchases. These reasons are the driving force in a nuts-and-bolts sense behind why we are passionate about improving impact, but you can’t go past the genuine buzz you get for following your own life’s purpose and perpetuating that through your business or work.
And we hear you already have big plans to improve your B Impact Score in three years time.
Of course! The minimum number of points to qualify for the certification is 80 and we gained a score of 92.9 points, which we are pretty stoked with. But we had a few hiccups with a few of the modules where we should have had the points easily but didn’t have all our ducks in a row. That’s okay – it was a great learning process! So, we already have ideas and plans for how to surpass that for the next assessment in three years’ time.
Do you have any tips for businesses looking to improve their impact?
Like us, you will probably be technically doing something impact related but might not be able to prove it, or have the data to back up your claims. So, my number one tip would be to use the B Impact Assessment tool, even if you don’t want to certify. It’s world-class. Work through it at your own pace and just using the tool will spark a lot of ideas and allow you to road map your impact in a logical way.
Then, in many ways, improving your impact comes down to budgeting and planning. If you are new to the impact space but it’s always something you have wanted to do, planning out any initiatives is key. If you are an established purpose-led business, you will already have your areas of impact mapped out, so then it’s a matter of budgeting for it. I would suggest doing an annual impact budget and giving yourself plenty of time.
A big thank you to Shay Lawrence, Founder of Caliwoods, for sharing her insights on B Corp certification and how to improve your business’ impact. You can find out more about their important work and sign up for their sustainability living tips here.