Celebrating and critiquing 30+ years of sustainable business
HOW WE STARTED OUT
Our story began back in 1988 with some pretty lofty principles. An aspiring group of Vermont entrepreneurs dreamed of founding a business on activism, offering America products designed to be more positive for health and the environment, without any compromise on performance.
What started out as a near-bankrupt mail-order catalogue for energy, water and resource saving devices evolved into today’s leading sustainability brand, offering a range of ground-breaking natural, non-toxic products.
Our name, Seventh Generation, was inspired by a native American Iroquois philosophy which simply and powerfully proclaims ‘in our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.’ More than 30 years on, as Seventh Generation expands beyond US shores, this powerful philosophy remains our guiding light.
WHAT WE’VE ACHIEVED SO FAR
The history of our brand gives us much to celebrate. We are enormously proud to have been a founding B Corporation in 2007 and honoured to have been listed by B-Corp as Best for Environment for the last six yearsi.
We have fought tirelessly for safer products creating safer homes, culminating recently in the passing of the landmark California Right To Know Act.
We aim to give back to this planet more than we take: from our focus on plant-based ingredients to use of more recycled materials, from our team committing 3,000 days of volunteering to our internal carbon tax which contributed $306,000 to agroforestry in just 2 years. Our achievements give us hope and put a spring in our step. They remind us that every one of us has a positive contribution to make to the next seven generations.
BUT SO MUCH MORE IS NEEDED
We are truly proud to have made so many positive and lasting impacts, yet we know we have a long journey still ahead of us. Whilst we have contributed to progress in so many ways, we have yet to turn the tide. This beautiful and wondrous planet that we have on loan is being shockingly disrespected by all of us - its tenants. Together, we are guilty of adding more to our planetary burdens than we are alleviating. At Seventh Generation, our goal is to leave the world better off than it was when we arrived but we must acknowledge that at this point in time we are not winning this almighty battle.
HOW WE WILL UP OUR GAME
We will keep up the critical fight to protect our climate, win with plants not petroleum, produce zero waste and source sustainably (amongst other things). But we plan to get bigger, braver, bolder and fast.
In 2016, we made a big call and sold into Unilever. We signed up to play our part in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and a vision to make sustainable living common place. Being part of a global mission-led business is enabling us to take our brand beyond US shores, to nurture the health of the next seven generations across the world.
In 2017, we launched our Social Mission Board to act as an accelerator to our social and environmental goals. This powerful and passionate board of sustainability leaders includes our Co-Founder Jeffrey Hollender, our former CEO John Replogle, CEO of Ceres Mindy Lubber and CEO of Ben & Jerry’s Jostein Solheim.
CAMPAIGNING IN THE UK
In 2017, we started our fight for the next seven generations in the UK. Almost three decades feels too long to have had to wait but now we are here we plan to make up for lost time.
We will use our passionate activism to fight climate change and push the UK to deliver its Paris 2015 agreement to curb temperature rises to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels (1.5C is the real goal here) and to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 in order to do this.
Like millions of others, we watched Blue Planet II in the autumn of 2017 and saw the heart wrenching scenes of destruction and suffering brought to our oceans by a human cycle of plastic production, consumption and waste. We will do more to fight this blight of plastic pollution. We will stand up to answer Sir David Attenborough’s call to ‘take plastic off the menu’. We are working with the UK Plastics Pact and focusing relentlessly on our zero waste goals to ensure 100% of our products and packaging are biodegradable or recyclable by 2020.
BE A CHANGE MAKER
If we could change the past, we would. We have effected change, but not enough. We are hoping you are still reading this because, like us, you give a damn. We invite you to work with us, to support us and challenge us, so that together we can help turn the tide on climate change and plastic pollution and so much more. Only together can we fight for the next seven generations.
- 1988 – Co-founded by Jeffrey Hollender, author of ‘How to make the world a better place’ and entrepreneur Alan Newman, starting out as a mail-order catalogue offering energy, water and resource saving products.
- 1990 – Launch 100% recycled paper products and chlorine-free baby and feminine care products & see half a million people request our catalogue during the 20th anniversary Earth Day celebrations
- 1993 – Issue $5 per share stock to raise funds
- 1995 – Sell catalogue business to Gaiam to focus on wholesale brand
- 1999 – Buy back all stock to protect our company from hostile take-overs that risk diluting or destroying our mission
- 2000 – Launch of our new tag line ‘Safer for You and the Environment’ to better reflect our commitment to provide solutions to the problems caused by conventional household products
- 2001 – Successfully lobby for the removal of phosphates from dishwasher products
- 2002 – Disclose ingredient names and concentrations
- 2003 – Publication of our first corporate responsibility report
- 2006 – Move to new LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold-certified offices and launch the Tampontification Campaign encouraging women to talk about feminine care issues and donate much needed supplies to women’s shelters
- 2007 – Become a Certified B Corporation and founding member
- 2008 – Launch 2x concentrated laundry formula
- 2009 - Join Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil & launch the Million Baby Crawl Campaign rallying support for toxic legislation in Congress
- 2011 – Launch first bottle with fully recyclable and compostable outer & named a 2011 Leader for Change by the United Nations and the Foundation for Social Change
- 2012 – Become one of the first brands to be USDA Certified Biobased
- 2015 – Launch of a self-imposed carbon tax raising $306,000 for agroforestry in 2 years
- 2016 – Join Unilever & Launch Social Mission Board
- 2017 – California passes the landmark California Cleaning Product Right To Know Act & Seventh Generation launches in the UK
- 2018 – Partner with Sierra Club in the Ready for 100 Campaign - a movement to inspire cities to embrace 100% clean, renewable energy and leave unsustainable fossil fuels behind.
[i] Each year B Lab releases lists honouring the top-performing Certified B Corps in each Impact Are and overall, broken down by size, on the annual Best for the World lists. Seventh Generation has been a Best for Environment Honoree every year from 2013 through 2018.
[ii] Beale, C. (2017) ‘David Attenborough says world must act now on plastic after witnessing its impacts filming Blue Planet II’, The Independent, 15 October (Online) Available at https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/david-attenborough-plastic-ocean-sea-blue-planet-pollution-microplastic-a8001641.html (Accessed 16 October 2018)