Why we don’t have a sustainability team…
An interview with Tamara Arbib, Founder and MD at Rebel Kitchen
What excites you most about the B Corp movement?
The power of B Corp is that a light is shone on every facet of your business. No stone gets unturned, there is no ignoring what you do well and no hiding what you don’t do so well. There is no option but to see your business as a living system where every part plays an essential role in its health and wholeness, be it governance or the environmental impact of each decision.
“I welcome B Corp as the truth teller to guide us to be the best version of ourselves”
When your vision is to improve the wellbeing of people and planet, B Corp is a beautiful framework to help us materialise that dream. When we became certified in May 2017, although we spent time introducing our Rebel community to the B Corp certification process (what it meant and why it’s so important to us), they got it immediately.
How do you integrate your values throughout the business?
For a young business it’s not the norm to have one hire purely focused on keeping us on track, but because it is so integral to who we are and what we are about, we have a Purpose Rebel whose job is to make sure that sustainability is integrated into everything. We don’t have a sustainability team because we don’t want it to sit as an afterthought.
Every team has a person who acts as B Keeper and supports our Purpose Rebel. This year we’ll also be introducing our Purpose Manifesto that spans five years of key actions. This will bring us into even more alignment with our sustainability goals. We are also improving our commitments, specifically in our supply chain. We’re in the process of tracking our business-wide carbon footprint to understand our impact and how we can improve and offset. This is an opportunity to tell the full Rebel story to our audience as we believe in radical honesty for all stakeholders.
What has changed for Rebel Kitchen since becoming a B Corp?
We are constantly questioning everything. We want to improve it all; our systems, our processes, our tracking and we want a completely transparent supply chain. To that end, we are putting in those foundations so that we know every ounce of what is going on and if it needs improving.
One example of this is our new supplier questionnaire. We will not work with any supplier who cannot answer positively to our sustainability questions. Another is the fact that we are organic — something we always wanted to be but couldn’t afford to do at the beginning. As volumes began to grow, we switched to organic without passing on the price increase to our consumer. Our zero waste loop with our coconut water and yog is another example of questioning to improve on systems. Previously a waste product,we’ve found a way to use the whole coconut, so nothing goes to waste. The coconut water that goes into bottles, the coconut meat is used in our yogs and finally the coconut husks are used as fuel, creating steam to help run the plant. Sustainability at its best.
Can you tell us about the impact that your company is having in the world?
We are a 1% For the Planet member as we want to be a part of something bigger. This means we give 1% of revenue (not just profit) to champion environmental non-profit partners. It’s about putting our money where our mouth is. We are passionate about regenerative agriculture — it’s now not only about organic farming but a deeper and more holistic approach to farming which incorporates many farming practices to support the most diverse and integrated ecosystems. We are here to grow this movement, starting with communities in countries where our coconuts come from but also our home turf in the UK and across the globe — because the dream is big.
We are also supporting grass root initiatives in Sri Lanka and the Philippines which empower rural communities and in particular women. The projects support communities to feed themselves with nutritious and affordable food by teaching them vital, organic home gardening skills, a skill set easily lost in one generation. We are honoured to support these incredible initiatives which are so deeply needed both on a local level and globally if we are all to harmoniously inhabit our sacred planet.
“We are about more than just health through nutrition. We have a vision of ease and health for all. We want to work to create those conditions for that healing to occur be it farmer, employee or end customer”
When it comes to our staff, their wellbeing is at the centre of everything we do. It’s not just ‘best practice’ to be a conscious company that looks after employee; The success of our business actually depends on employees being ‘well’ and aligned. From flexible working, unlimited holiday and daily meditation to trips away to restore and connect as a team — we will constantly explore the edge of what’s possible to look at health and wellbeing holistically.
What benefits have you seen since B Corp certification?
The movement is gaining more gravitas which is wonderful to see. We’ve formed working groups so that we can start to have better conversations with retailers. Hopefully, this will mean that businesses in the FMCG space, who are trying to change the system, will start to gain more shelf space. It is THESE brands and businesses that can affect change from within. The retailers buying power has real potential to support the shift that the world needs!
Are there any challenges for the B Corp movement? How can we best overcome these?
There are challenges with all businesses and the business of the B Corp movement is not immune to that. It’s important for B Corp to consider itself accountable to the same standards and continue to improve upon itself, just like the businesses that make up the B Corp community are doing.
What is personally or professionally inspiring you at the moment?
Other brands and businesses that I like and admire for all their hard work cause it’s not easy out there!
Have you seen the new B Corp video? Click here to watch it now and take the next steps to reinventing business.
A first step for businesses interested in measuring their social and environmental impact is by using the free B Impact Assessment tool. Any company wishing to certify as a B Corp has its performance assessed by B Lab across all dimensions of its business. These companies are on a journey of continuous improvement to ensure business leverages its power to be a positive force in the world.
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