So you want your business to do good? Yay! We love to hear it. We believe that businesses can (and should) have a positive impact on the world. It takes a little extra work but it’s the right thing to do. And, ultimately, it pays off.

Customers want to choose companies that have a conscience. But you have to follow through. Greenwashing harms our whole industry and makes customers lose faith in those of us actually putting the work in. That’s why we’re here to help. There are a few of the ways we recommend thinking about how to build a better business – for you, your community and the planet. 

Step 1: Lean into what you care about to create a business for good 

Think about a problem affecting the world that you’d like to help alleviate. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals can help you focus on an important issue. For us, the fact that billions of people lack access to clean water and proper sanitation prompted us to help solve the sanitation crisis.

Step 2: Plan your impact on your community

How are you going to give back? We’ve committed to donate 50% of our profits. You don’t have to go that far, but think bigger than the usual 1%. Consider dividends as potential donations. And then, we hate that we have to say this, actually donate the money. Hot tip – unrestricted funding often has the greatest impact. The experts (your non-profit partners) know what they need. 

Step 3: Know your materials’ environmental footprint

Dig into the environmental impact of your materials throughout the full lifecycle of your product. For example, don’t use virgin trees to make paper products when you could use recycled paper or bamboo. Then, validate your findings through rigorous third-party testing – we started at quarterly, and have increased the frequency over time. Invest in ongoing assurance of your products’ integrity such as regular visits to your manufacturing sites to ensure you know your products are meeting your standards. Get super comfy with your suppliers and their suppliers: play an active role in making sure that what you are advertising is what you are selling. 

Step 4: Build relationships 

Invest in long term partnerships with your suppliers. It’s like dating! To make it work, you have to understand their values and goals. Take extra care to have your meetings in person – you don’t want to get catfished. Take advantage of tools like long term agreements and modern slavery statements to ensure that you and your partners are on the same page.

Step 5: Stay accountable 

Invest in 3rd party certifications that support you to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. For example, we partnered with B Corp™ and FSC to establish meaningful social and environmental benchmarking on which to build and grow. These certifications help us to hold ourselves and our suppliers accountable every step of the way. They can teach you a lot about how to better your business and find innovative solutions. Which brings us to… 

Step 6: Constantly seek new opportunities for greater impact 

Technologies and innovations are always changing – and that’s a good thing! Evolve with them and take advantage of new learnings throughout every stage of your supply chain. For example, we’ve recently installed solar panels on our warehouse roofs (and made a guide for how you could do the same). 

Step 7: Be transparent 

Progress is not going to happen overnight and that’s ok. Don’t let imperfection get in the way of making positive change. Just be open about where you are on your journey (ie don’t say your product is 100% bamboo when it’s not, or that your manufacturing doesn’t have any emissions when you’re ignoring part of the manufacturing process, cough cough). The goal here is to drive collective change – for your business, your industry peers and your customer.

Step 8: Make it fun  

Remember, consumers likely experience a lot of doom and gloom already, so make sure to leverage a positive and lighthearted tone of voice.

Simon Griffiths is CEO of Who Gives A Crap.