Badger Spells Business with a Certified B
By Beth LaMontagne Hall
Fiddlehead Contributing Writer
Companies touting their sustainable practices look for opportunities to reduce impact and improve efficiency from the ground up. W. S. Badger Company in Gilsum did just that. Literally.
When the business, which produces soothing balms, moisturizes, bug repellants and other products that use organic ingredients and traditional remedies, was seeking a new location for its manufacturing facility, company leadership wanted an efficient, sustainable building. They selected the site of a former sand pit, which meant the Badger didn’t have to cut down any trees to start construction.
“We were able to actually build here and start a regenerative project to plant trees and bring back growth on the site,” said Rebecca Hamilton, family owner and co-CEO of Badger.
Opened in 2013, the facility’s design includes many efficiencies. Although not certified, the building would meet the LEED Silver standards, said Hamilton, and there are plans in the works to build a solar array that will make the facility 100 percent solar-powered.
Badger has sustainability and social responsibility baked into the company charter as a Certified B Corporation. This means Badger must “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose,” according to the Certified B Corp website.
The company is so committed to this purpose, Hamilton worked to pass legislation in 2015 allowing New Hampshire companies, including Badger, to change their business purpose to align with the requirements of a B Corp.
“Because that wasn’t an option in New Hampshire, we felt we were being misrepresented as a company, and it was really important to us to have our legal structure represent the business we built,” said Hamilton.
Part of being a B Corp means Badger must look to improve yearly, and this year’s focus was on waste — 96 percent of which the company has been able to divert through reuse or recycling. One of the biggest achievements, said Hamilton, was reusing cardboard sent by suppliers. These boxes are sorted and when repurposed, Badger puts a sticker on them to let customers know the box is being used for a second time.
Badger is loved by parents for its products formulated for babies’ and children’s sensitive skin, but the family-friendly aspect of the company carries through to employee policies as well. This includes flexible work hours, paid family leave and allowing parents to bring infants to work with them.
Paid family leave and other family-friendly work policies have been an issue of debate in New Hampshire recently, and the cost to businesses has been a major aspect of that discussion. Hamilton said that while some policies, such as the company’s on-site licensed daycare facility, are a cost, many of the policies are not cost-prohibitive.
“Allowing employees to bring babies to work does not cost a lot of money when weighing the productivity of a new parent when separated from an infant at that age and the long-term productivity when they feel their family is being cared for,” said Hamilton.
“You have to start where you are as a business. Kindness doesn’t cost money if all you do is listen and find ways to support employees.”