Cleaner Homes and a Healthier Planet: Talking Sustainability with Seventh Generation’s CEO

Last Update: September 27, 2022

Maybe it’s something in the mountain air, but Vermont-based businesses seem to have a kindred spirit. Whether it’s pantry staples, clean skincare, or iconic desserts, companies in the Green Mountain State tend to share a reverence for the environment and a focus on factors greater than profit alone.

It comes as no surprise that Seventh Generation, a home and personal care brand well-known and loved for their effective plant-based formulas and sustainable packaging, calls Burlington, VT home. Founded in 1988, the company has always worked hard to live up to the origins of its name—an Iroquois philosophy that states, “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”

In 2007, Seventh Generation’s commitment to the health of the planet and its people was formally recognized when they became one of the first 82 companies to receive B Corp certification. The designation recognizes mission-driven businesses around the world that adhere to the highest environmental and social standards. “Being a B Corp is part of our DNA as a company,” shares Joey Bergstein, Seventh Generation’s CEO. “We believe it is our responsibility to set a course for a more mindful way of doing business.”

Since joining the Unilever family of brands in 2017, Seventh Generation has made even more impressive strides toward its goal of a healthier future for both people and planet: They’ve offset 100% of their carbon emissions related to employee commuting and travel, facilities operations, manufacturing, and factory-to-warehouse shipping; phased out the use of boric acid (a potentially toxic chemical) in their formulas; and advocated to pass California legislation requiring greater ingredient transparency in the cleaning product industry. Recently, Seventh Generation joined the 1.5 Degree Commitment, teaming up with other businesses and organizations taking climate action to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees celsius.

There’s no better time than Earth Month to get to know the environmental ethos behind the brands you support. Over email, Bergstein shared some of the reasons why Thrive Market members can feel good about stocking their homes with sustainable staples from this best-selling B Corp.

Thrive Market: How would you describe Seventh Generation’s mission, and how does being a B Corp support progress towards it?

Joey Bergstein, Seventh Generation CEO: Our mission is to create a more healthy, sustainable, and equitable world for the generations to come. As a founding B Corp, we’ve always been focused on a triple bottom line: serving people, profit, and planet. B Corp also ensures that we are continually improving through its B Corp Impact Assessment, which shows us where we can be better for workers, communities, and the environment.

TM: Why should consumers have confidence when they see the B Corp logo?

JB: The B Corp logo represents not just a commitment to the highest social and environmental standards, but transparent proof of how the company meets these standards through its accountability requirements. B Corps are also legally accountable to balance purpose and profit, so a B Corp logo represents not just company intention but also true impact.

TM: How do you ensure Seventh Generation honors its legacy as a founding B Corp?

JB: Being a B Corp is part of our DNA as a company and we proudly spread the word about the B Corp movement to our consumers, partners, and community. We’ve encouraged most of our suppliers to take the B Corp Impact Assessment and we regularly partner with B Corp on communications efforts.

TM: In what areas are you most excited to improve Seventh Generation’s impact?

JB: We always take the long view in every decision we make, considering our impact on the next seven generations. And if you look at the science, there’s no greater threat to future generations than our rapidly warming planet. I think as a global society right now we need to focus on the climate crisis and how we solve for it in an equitable way. We must transition to a clean energy economy, delivering jobs, justice, and opportunity for all. And we plan to use our voice as a business and our advocacy work with our key movement partners to do so.

From the households products perspective, we are continuing to improve our impact —specifically by continuing to concentrate our liquid products such as our Easy Dose laundry detergent and working to remove virgin plastic from our packaging.

TM: Fast-forward to 2030. What changes have B Corps like Seventh Generation enabled for our planet and its people?

JB: I have a lot of hope when I think about 2030. I think we’ll be on our way to achieving the inclusive and sustainable economy that the B Corp movement is striving for. While the pandemic has taken much away from us, it has also presented an opportunity to think about how we move forward as a society. Consumers are demanding more and I think businesses are also seeing that those that take the long view—considering the next generation and not just the next quarter—are thriving and ushering in a whole new era of accountability.

In the household products space, I hope that concentration has become an industry norm and the 100-oz. laundry bottle is a relic of the past. If we can get both consumers and companies to adopt concentration, we’d be saving a massive amount of plastic from entering the environment as well as a ton of emissions from shipping.

Shop Seventh Generation’s Purposeful Products

Stock your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room with naturally derived, responsibly packaged cleaning essentials from Seventh Generation (and while you’re at it, click here to learn more about the scientists behind their innovative, planet-friendly formulas and packaging).

Seventh Generation Easy Dose Ultra Concentrated Laundry Detergent

With a patented dispenser cap that cuts back on waste, this concentrated laundry soap can handle just as many loads as the 100 fl oz bottle (over 65), all while using less water and plastic.

Seventh Generation Dishwashing Detergent Packs

These convenient dishwasher tabs cut grease and grime on your dishes without harsh chemicals like chlorine or phosphates.

Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner

Knock out 99.9% of household germs with this powerful cleaning spray that uses natural essential oils instead of synthetic fragrance.

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Kirby Stirland

Kirby Stirland is a writer, editor, and New York transplant living in Los Angeles.

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