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Planet Earth

Running is more popular than ever. Last year, over 19 million Americans ran at least one organized race. There are an estimated total of 65 million runners in the U.S. alone.

Add to that the fact that running keeps your weight in check, reduces your risk of diabetes and heart disease, and keeps your heart pumping an average of 3 years longer than all those poor non-running saps out there and it’s easy to believe that running could save the world.

That’s all great—and pretty amazing in and of itself—but it’s not the point of this story.

Many running and outdoor companies have an environmental conscience. Nothing new there. What is new is that more and more are gaining a social conscience. Not only that. They’re hoping they can save the world.

Enter the B Corporation. The “B” stands for “benefit.” As in making choices to benefit employees, the community, and the environment. To these companies, making a profit is no longer the sole definition of being a successful business.

Newton Running is one of the latest to join the 1000 other certified B Corps in 33 countries and more than 60 industries. Patagonia, GoLite, Klean Kanteen, Olukai and Dansko have also earned the title.

B Corps are certified by the nonprofit B Lab who conducts a rigorous screening of the company’s social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard sums up his motivation on his website, “Patagonia is trying to build a company that could last 100 years.” He says that B Corp legislation, “creates the legal framework to enable mission-driven companies like Patagonia to stay mission-driven through succession, capital raises, and even changes in ownership, by institutionalizing the values, culture, processes, and high standards put in place by founding entrepreneurs.”

During Newton Running’s celebration of their B Corp certification last September, co-founder Jerry Lee succinctly put it like this, “We aren’t just going to talk the talk, but walk the walk.”

Is B Corp certification just another marketing tool, or can it establish a conscience in a company’s culture? What do you think?

Steve Lemig

Steve Lemig is the founder of Wilderdad. He's been a lot of things over the years. Skateboarder. Mountain biker. Climber. Snowboarder. Bike mechanic. Forest firefighter. Woodworker. Creative director. These days he's a runner, writer, husband, and father. He writes stories to empower dads and encourage them to share outdoor adventures with their kids as a tool to strengthen families and build respect for the environment. He has also been the Communications Director at Road Runner Sports for the last 13 years.