In November of 2019, we started our B Corp recertification process using the free B Impact Assessment (BIA) tool. It was the second time performing the assessment, the first being in late 2016. Recertification happens every three years, which is a relief as it is a rigorous and time-consuming process. This time, it took us a few more months to complete due to the unrolling (and ongoing) Covid-19 pandemic. B Lab has understandably been more patient for recertifying this year; as for many businesses, this has been a time of crisis management — not development and growth that the recertification process requires.
It was important for us to complete because now more than ever, we are reaffirmed in our belief that the B Corp movement is so necessary. The world that B Corporations are striving to create is one in which a health pandemic like this would be less likely because humans would be living in tune with our natural world. A world in which a global economic shutdown would not have the far-reaching ramifications that the Coronavirus pandemic will continue to have (for as far as the eye can see), because the individual communities that comprise it would be more sustainable, diverse, and resilient. So yes, we are proud to announce that we did in fact manage to complete and achieve the recertification because we are part of a community of change-makers and solution-creators.
Changes at Bodhi Surf + Yoga reflected in our score
We have been [proud and active] members of the B Corp community since 2016. Our culture of Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility can be traced back to our inception in 2010, but it was really in 2016 — with the induction into the B Corp community — that we realized the value of a third-party certification such as this. It’s one thing to say (or even think) you are acting sustainably and responsibly, but it’s quite another to have that audited, measured, and corroborated by an entity whose purpose is to make sure the business benefits all stakeholders, not just shareholders. Moreover, it’s an invaluable resource to have a path of improvement laid out in front of you with tangible actions for improvement (because being “responsible” is indeed a journey with many steps).
Last week, we had a little victory (and “hope spot”) when we were notified that we had achieved 121.5 on our BIA, out of the 200 total. It marked a big jump from our first certification in which we achieved a score of 98.8. Points aside, the real reward is knowing that we were able to utilize the tools that B Lab has created (such as the Inclusive Economy Challenge and the Sustainable Development Goals Action Manager), and have improved in a number of areas — not just our score, but more importantly, our positive impact. The questions in the B Impact Assessment are organized into five Impact Areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. The score allows us to quickly gauge how well we are doing in each category, but more importantly it tells the story of where we’ve been and where we are going.
Where and how we improved
One way we improved was in the environmental section of the BIA. We began offsetting our guests’ flights in 2017, and for our 2018-19 season, we began purchasing carbon offsets for all three scopes of our operation, effectively going carbon neutral (though, full disclosure we have not yet invested in a third party certification).
We have also continued to work hard in our own community, and in the interim period between the first certification and now we were proud to earn the “Best for the World” honor in 2017, 2018, and 2019. We’ve continued with the myriad of community programs that have been ongoing for years (Yoga for the Community, Service and Surf, Bahia Ballena Plastic-Free Coalition, Semilla de Ballena reforestation project, Geoporters Costa Rica). We’ve also had some new additions to our resumé. We co-founded the community development non-profit, the SOMOS Foundation. We have also with organizations from all over the world whose missions and visions align with our own such as B Lab itself, the French Broad River Academy, Center for Responsible Travel, Lonely Whale, Leave no Trace, Non-Toxic Revolution, 1% for the Planet. Our in-kind vacation donations for 2019 totaled $23,120.
We’ve also increased our staff since 2016 and improved the benefit package for them. We added a formal training program, investment in employee education (including continuing education and English classes), as well as medical benefits.
The B Corp movement is more important than ever in the Covid-19 era
Here at Bodhi Surf + Yoga, we recognize that there has been a fundamental failure of global systems, such as capitalism in its current iteration – a reflection of how we humans are living in an unsustainable and tenuous way. We are out of touch with nature, and destroying the environment upon which we depend for life. This has created the perfect set of conditions for an event such as a global health pandemic. Less urgent than human health, but seemingly no less impactful, is how we’ve built our global economy. We depend on this colossal, all-encompassing, machine-like system for our financial well-being. And like any machine, it can be brought down in its entirety when one small piece ceases to function.
Unless we address these issues and make real, lasting change, we are at risk of another global crisis such as the one we are now experiencing. What we would all do well to understand is that this kind of thing is possible, and that it could be so much worse. While we are all affected, and thus all united right now, we are not experiencing this in the same way. Currently, the most disenfranchised among us are disproportionately affected; the ones who had the least to begin with. Unless we address the lack of equity in this world, that will continue to be the case.
We will fight to make this world a better place
It’s not that the current system needs to be burned to the ground, but it must (and can!) be built up and fixed. For it to work, it must include the diverse wants and needs of the many, not just the few. We can and must build an inclusive and regenerative economy, one that places stakeholders at its center rather than just shareholders. This will not only create a shared and durable prosperity for all, but we believe it will ensure the health of humans, of our planet, and of the systems (like our global economy) upon which we all depend.
That’s the incredibly positive news. Movements like B Corp do exist (and there are others!), which offer tangible solutions and paths for the improvement of global systems. We hope and sincerely believe that this crisis will bring about a global awakening, in which consumers, governments, and businesses alike recognize the urgency of change — that this moment of pause brings about a collective pivot in a better direction.
How can you, the individual, get involved?
For you, the individual who is perhaps sitting at home right now, may be wondering, how can I get involved if I don’t own a business? One of the most important things you can do at any time, but especially in moments of challenge and change, is to support companies which have a positive impact. It’s called “dollar voting”, and it is an incredibly powerful way to take action and send a message. The status quo is not working equally for all. Yet there are certain parameters within which the world will continue to operate. We as humans will continue to consume — we need to in order to survive. But when you choose to consume responsibly, it sends a strong message that you want a future that is more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable.
One of the most valuable components of becoming a Certified B Corporation is the network. We have had so many cool opportunities for collaboration since certifying. We’ve helped support others, and have received so much support from our change-making peers. Here are a few of our friends, partners, and peers which we’d like to give shoutouts to, and which we’d like to recommend that you patronize (if and when you need any of the items that they sell).
This reusable bottle (and more) company is awesome: family and employee-owned, Climate Neutral Certified, a 1% for the Planet member, and an active member of both their local and the global communities. Right now they are having different giveaways, discounts, and fun remote events. Check them out!
A small, family-owned business that makes sunscreens and more. They are doing it right: 1% for the Planet member, Certified Organic, Non-GMO, and Reef Friendly, solar-powered, and active members of their local and global communities. They have discounts and fun stuff going on on their online channels so go give them a peep!
Patagonia is a powerhouse responsible business, selling outdoor apparel and accessories. They are a founding B Corp and 1% for the Planet member, and major supporters of social and environmental movements and activists around the globe. If you don’t need to buy anything right now, wait. But if you do, note that right now they are offering free shipping on their products!
Badger Balm is a family-owned, socially and environmentally responsible, natural body product company. They are Certified USDA Organic, Protect land + sea, Made in USA, and Cruelty Free. Right now, they are having an Earth Day sale, so if you need anything, definitely look them up!
Indosole is a footwear company that promotes preventive measures for diseases and illnesses borne from pollution and humans. They are an example of reusing and reinventing, preventing old tires from going into the landfill and creating a needed product. Right now, if you send them a joke or positive story, you can receive a discount code should you need a pair of new footwear. Learn more.
Vista Global is a coaching and consulting company, which right now is offering a free 3-session individual coaching package. These 30-minute laser coaching sessions will provide the small boost that you need to develop your personal resiliency process to navigate COVID-19. Building resilience is a daily practice of small behaviors that support your physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health. Check it out.
In the meantime…
For now, we are taking a moment of pause and the opportunity to do a deep-dive look at ourselves. It has been a great privilege to be a part of the Bahia Ballena community and to welcome guests every week to explore Mother Ocean and to discover a connection to this place and the people who live here. Until we can do that again, we will be actively looking for ways to share our message with the world — beyond simply those who have the privilege and ability to visit us here in Costa Rica. Asking ourselves tough questions is how progress is made. It is not always easy, in fact it rarely is, but this is our home, our planet, our happiness, and we choose to use it wisely.
So what is next for Bodhi Surf + Yoga? We are on a mission to become a better version of ourselves, one that is more diverse, resilient, and inclusive. One day at a time.
We hope you join us on this journey.