Corporate environmentalism is on the rise here in the United States, and consumers who love both the free market and conservation are thankful for it. That said, as many large companies announce their environmental commitments, many small, Certified B Corporations are opening their doors as well, operating in a way dedicated to benefitting both consumers and the planet. United By Blue is one such company that is wholeheartedly committed to cleaning up America’s waterways, one purchase at a time.
United By Blue is a clothing company founded in 2010 – they organized their first community waterway cleanup along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia the same week they sold their first t-shirt. They believe in business for good, explaining, “At United By Blue, we believe business not only has the ability to be a part of environmental solutions, but also a moral responsibility to address them.” They have been a Certified B Corporation since 2011, and in their 11 years of operation, have pulled more than 3.5 MILLION pounds of trash from oceans and waterways.
Cleaning Waterways and Cutting Plastic Use
United By Blue has committed to removing one pound of plastic from America’s oceans and waterways for every one product it sells. This cleanup process is not just done by company staff. United By Blue has engaged communities across the nation to organize community-based cleanups.
In 2020, before COVID-19 struck, United By Blue planned their 2020 Waterway Cleanup Tour. This tour organized more than 20 events in different cities across the nation. For towns without events, they created a DIY cleanup kit so that ambitious individuals can do their part in cleaning up their local waterways.
United By Blue also developed the Quit Single Use Task Force in 2019 to clean up some of its internal processes. This task force is auditing all instances where the company uses single-use plastics and will then develop plans to phase them out.
One example is their partnership with Target in 2020. The United By Blue team worked with Target on reducing plastic in shipping; they developed a process that used paper instead of plastic bags and reduced use by more than 177,000 plastic bags throughout their shipping.
While United By Blue is well-known for its commitment to cleaning up waterways, there is a second part to its sustainability: the materials they use. These materials include those notable for their sustainability, like hemp, as well as United By Blue’s own exclusively pioneered materials, known as BisonShield™ fabric. The company is dedicated to ethical manufacturing and partners with factories that have certified high standards for facilities and personnel.
United By Blue is proof that companies of all sizes are making huge strides forward in sustainability. Supporters of the free market always tout the market’s ability to solve problems. Companies like United By Blue prove that the market is not the enemy of environmentalism – it is one of its greatest tools.
Kelvey Vander Hart is a native Iowan and a senior staff writer for the American Conservation Coalition.