Lulu’s B Corp status is our declaration to the world (and ourselves) that our business is a powerful tool for solving society’s problems through social impact. Part of this commitment means always looking for new ways to learn and grow through socially conscious and sustainable means.
To learn from the best in the field, we attended the Sustainable Business and Social Impact conference at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. The conference featured a wide array of topics including diversity, the American Dream, scaling mission-driven ventures, impact investing, using blockchain technology to do good, and profitability of the social enterprise.
Do good, get paid
Sustainability and social entrepreneurship go beyond the warm fuzzy feeling of doing good. As a panel member, Odell Cleveland of Greensboro’s Mt. Zion Baptist 5,000 member church said, “There is money to be made in solving society’s problems.”
There’s no better example than Warby Parker, the B Corp that radically disrupted the eyewear industry through their partnership with VisionSpring. Together they developed an affordable buy-one-give-one business model.
Warby Parker Co-CEO/Co-Founder, Neil Blumenthal and Ella Gudwin, President of VisionSpring, shared their company stories. 624 million people are living with impaired vision that could be corrected with a simple pair of glasses. Both companies strive to solve this problem. The two companies form a symbiotic relationship. With every Warby Parker sale, a pair of glasses is donated to non-profit VisionSpring to distribute to lower-income countries.
Businesses solving society’s problems
Warby Parker benefits by attracting the ever-growing population of socially conscious consumers. Investors have taken notice. Warby Parker has raised $215.5M.
Using business to create a positive social impact is nothing new for Lulu. We were born from the belief that knowledge sharing should be accessible to everyone and that content creators have a right to benefit from their work.
Did you know that when you publish with Lulu you retain 100% rights to your work? It’s true! And have you heard about the 80/20 creator revenue split? No starving artists here just empowered content creators with full authority over their work.
And to make sure our publishing tools will be around for the long run, we’re dedicated to sustainability.
Print-on-demand conserves resources and avoids waste. We create no books until you order a copy. We never have to pulp unsold books or stock unwanted items in a costly, energy-sucking warehouses. Heck, we don’t even have a warehouse!
Instead, we use a global print network, creating each book at the facility closest to the shipping destination. Smart order routing saves energy and reduces shipping costs, allowing us to pass on the savings to our customers. In this way, we conserve resources and prevent waste, while remaining affordable and profitable.
Additionally, our office offsets our electricity through Arcadia Power, a nationwide clean energy initiative and fellow B Corp. Arcadia filters our energy bill, allowing us to offset our energy usage with comparable investments in renewables while helping us to find areas we can improve. The process is constant month to month, showing us new ways we can better manage our resources.
We supplement our energy offsetting with a robust compost and recycling program, run by a local NC group, CompostNow. The company focuses on ways to make composting accessible to urban areas by providing a bin and regular pick up, then compiling the composted materials to provide community garden space. Part of this effort allowed us to reveal materials we use regularly that can be transitioned to compostable – items like our cutlery and plates – providing further ways to reduce our waste.
As the saying goes, the right thing isn’t always the easiest thing. It’s our commitment to our authors, community, environment, and all stakeholders that make our efforts worthwhile. Call it cheesy, but we succeed when you succeed.
Sheridan is Lulu’s Coordinator of Sustainability and Outreach. She is an author advocate, B Corp Champion, friend to all cats everywhere, and a clog aficionado.