Seventh Generation was named more than twenty years ago for the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy that states: “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” Seventh Generation tries to live by this everyday. They are passionate about providing safe and sustainable products, restoring the environment, inspiring conscious consumption, and creating a just and equitable world. Their core business from the entire lifecycle of their products down to their charitable giving is based on doing what is best for future generations. Here are a few highlights:
- They donate 10% of their profits to support organizations that work for positive change. 10%! This high percentage is unprecedented. The national average is less than 1%.
- Seventh Generation products are manufactured in the most sustainable way possible with only those ingredients that do not pose any chronic health risks and that are safe for the environment. They use only recycled paper in their paper products, primarily post-consumer materials, and they never use chlorine bleach. They also disclose all ingredients for all of their cleaning products.
- In 2009 they initiated a product scorecard that rates product design according to seven criteria: human health, water quality, air quality, resource sustainability, packaging, product performance, and financial performance. Not only does the scorecard completely inform their consumers, they believe the scorecard will spur designers to higher levels of innovation and achievement.
- Seventh Generation products have saved 404,971 tress and 122,308 gallons of petroleum.
Seventh Generation has turned producing non-toxic products in a very toxic category into a booming business. In 2009 they made $140 million in revenue and founder, Jeffery Hollender, expects a 20 percent growth for 2010. Their goal is to grow the company to $500 million in the next five years. It wasn’t always easy, however—Seventh Generation didn’t turn a profit for 13 years—as Seventh Generation was the pioneer in safe cleaning products long before “being green” was a priority for consumers. But Hollender was persistent and stayed true to his beliefs, and since 2000 the company has grown 30 percent a year on average.
In July 2010, Seventh Generation forged a partnership with Walmart to bring natural, safe, environmentally friendly cleaning products to a market sector where virtually none were previously available. While the move sparked some controversy, Sevength Generation said their decision was founded on a mission to “help make sustainable living more accessible to consumers nationwide.”
Al Dominguez, Walmart’s vice president of chemical and paper goods, described Seventh Generation as “a leader in offering natural and healthy products to families” and voiced the company’s excitement to partner with them. Besides offering Seventh Generation products in 1500 stores and online, Walmart is using its considerable market presence to encourage families to live better, healthier lives, with educational initiatives such as Walmart’s mom bloggers, Facebook, and the 7GenBlog. By partnering with the superstore, Seventh Generation hopes to give more customers the tools and information they need to lead a healthier and more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Following the devastation of tropical storm Irene in September of 2011, Seventh Generation employees volunteered at the Vermont Foodbank to assemble more than 1200 “green” cleaning kits filled with natural and non-toxic clean-up supplies donated by Seventh Generation and other local companies.
A radical new reformulation of Seventh Generation’s laundry liquids received one of the first ever USDA BioPreferred labels in November 2011. The BioPreferred Seal labeling program is intended to help consumers make purchases that reduce dependence on petroleum, boost rural economies, and alleviate climate change. The certification is awarded to products that are entirely or significantly made from renewable agricultural ingredients and materials.
In December of 2011, Seventh Generation announced its partnership with the nation’s first K-5 school with a sustainability theme. The Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes Elementary School in Burlington, VT is an international model for using sustainability as a lens for education. Besides providing non-toxic cleaning products for classrooms and teachers, Seventh Generation has participated in a literacy-building program for the school, and helped fund a brand-new alternative energy system designed to reduce the school’s carbon footprint while serving as an educational tool for students. Plans for 2012 include a science ambassador program in which Seventh Generation employees will work with students to understand the connection between personal and environmental health, along with 880 hours of employee volunteer time to build an outdoor classroom and a natural playground for the school.