B The Change: Athleta

Welcome to the inaugural edition of our new quarterly blog series celebrating our fellow Certified B Corporations! Up first is Athleta, one of our favorite women's performance apparel brands and our neighbor here in the Bay Area. Head to @stasherbag on Instagram and let us know which B Corp you think we should feature next. 

The world of consumer goods is beyond abundant. So abundant, in fact, that it can be difficult to make confident buying decisions when we’re standing (or scrolling) amid such a wide range of brands and products. Thankfully, there’s a simple indicator out there that sets the brands most worthy of our hard-earned cash apart from the rest.

Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. This little “B” says that the product in your hand is crafted by a company that’s legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. As a community, B Corps are driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good.

We know the #stashersquad places a lot of value in a brand’s commitment to people and the planet, especially when it comes to clothes. The fashion industry as a whole is known to exploit workers, gobble up precious resources and create a ton of waste. So, when one of the world’s leading apparel companies became a B Corp, we knew you’d be interested.

Happy B Corp Birthday, Athleta!

stasher and athleta Certified B Corps

This month, Athleta is celebrating its first birthday as a B Corp. After a few years of goal setting and aligning itself as a purpose-driven company, last year at this time, Athleta officially amended its bylaws to list B Corp values alongside profit as measurable company goals.

Emily Allbritten, Athleta’s Manager of Strategic Initiatives, took charge on fulfilling the certification requirements, which included taking the B Impact Assessment. “It was a full year-long process where we utilized the assessment to help us truly measure all of the amazing work of our teams. The assessment has helped us look at the business more holistically and prioritize where we could put energy and resources for the greatest impact.”

One year later, Athleta has made some impressive achievements on its way to meeting the people- and planet-positive goals they set for 2020.  

60% of Materials Athleta Uses are Made with Sustainable Fibers.

At Athleta, the future of performance apparel is technical, beautiful and sustainable. Their teams have ethically sourced more eco-friendly materials that don’t compromise on performance. Among the list on their website, you’ll find fabrics made with recycled plastic bottles, fishing nets, and their own fabric scraps. They’re currently making 60% of their garments with sustainable fibers. And by next year, they plan on upping the ante to 80%.

70% of Shipping Packaging Waste is Being Diverted from Landfills.

With 161 Athleta retail stores across the U.S., keeping them all stocked requires a ton of shipping and receiving. And that means waste. We’re talkin’ boxes, paper, plastic and more. They’ve worked quickly to save 70% of that waste from reaching landfills by mindfully recycling it instead, inching closer to their 2020 goal of 80%. But they aren’t stopping at shipping waste. The company is now investing in an “innovative renewable energy partnership that will fully offset the power consumption of all Athleta stores and our HQ operations across the United States by 2020.”

stasher and athleta certified B Corps

More Positive Impacts to Come

By next year, Athleta is striving to make 25% of its products with water-saving techniques. They’re only at 4% right now, and they say it’s been a tough nut to crack, but they’re pushing hard to modernize production. Last year they introduced Washwell smart wash techniques to their denim line, which uses 20% less water than conventional methods, and began testing a new dye process.

Also in 2020, the company is aiming to empower 10,000 women in their factories through Gap’s Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement (P.A.C.E.) program. The program helps women create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities by providing technical training, teaching foundational life skills, and offering support that will help them advance in the workplace and in their personal lives. Athleta has introduced P.A.C.E at 14 of the factories they work with, reaching 3,212 women and counting, and have 10 more factories set to participate in 2020. They’ve also been the catalyst in getting two of their factories Fair Trade Certified™.

The Movement Has No Destination

The B Corp community is never finished striving for better. We celebrate the wins, of course. But the next day, we continue the quest for more progress and more positive impact. The work is never done!

Allbritten is finding inspiration from the B Corp community to keep improving and engaging. “I have been impressed by how much the companies in the B Corp community want to work together and share best practices,” Allbritten says. “These people are working on things that really matter and will make the world a better place.”

This certification is only the beginning of Athleta’s journey to focus its efforts on being a force for good. “We are inspired by companies like Patagonia and Danone who look to further their impact for good year after year,” says CFO Chris Samway. The company is looking forward to leading industry-wide changes for the better. “We think it’s important to talk about where we’d like to go, and we hope that others will join us on this journey.” And that includes its parent company. “We plan to leverage the learnings from Athleta as a case study for Gap Inc., providing a benchmark and roadmap of potential opportunities for greater social and environmental impact across the enterprise.”
 Certified B Corps Athleta and Stasher

We are so glad to support Athleta, both as part of the B Corp community and as customers! It feels good to stretch on a pair of leggings made by a company doing so much good in the world. Head to @stasherbag on Instagram and let us know which B Corp brands you love! 

Quotes in this article from Athleta employees have been taken from the B Labs coverage of their certification in May 2018. Find that article here