Now we’re cooking!

A woman in Bangladesh sits with her Bondhu Chula stove – a clean cooking appliance provided by organisation ClimateCare, who mark-making* support.
© ClimateCare

This March has played host to B Corp Month – an international celebration of all that’s good about the incredible B Corp movement. And as we’re on the cusp of (hopefully) becoming certified ourselves, we didn’t want to let the party pass without a nod to the good stuff we’re getting involved in at mark-making*.

For those who don’t know, B Corp is a global community of over 4,700 like-minded businesses, all striving to balance profit with people and planet. In short, it’s for organisations that want to be a part of the solution, not the problem. Our pending application should tell you which side of the fence we sit on!

The main aim of March’s activities has been to take people ‘behind the B’ and uncover what makes B Corps better businesses. So, while we’re waiting for our official confirmation, we thought we’d give you a taste of why we reckon our place at the top table is justified.

Working hard to become a better business

Our own road to B Corp began in 2020. And getting to where we felt ready to submit took us over a year and a half. To arrive in this happy place, we worked hard on all facets of our business – with a broad focus on the five B Corp impact areas: Governance, Employees, Community, Clients and Environment.

As a proud member of the Chipping Norton community, and equally proud of our broader Cotswolds roots, we put as much back into our local area as possible. We do pro-bono work (over half a million pounds’ worth so far!). We do volunteer work. And whenever one of the team raises money through local sponsorship (which happens pretty often!), mark-making* doubles it.

But as B Corp is a global movement, we’re always keen to offer support at an international level, too.

From Chipping Norton to Bangladesh and beyond

Benefits-in-chief from this bigger thinking have been two amazing projects – one in Asia, one in Africa – both organised and managed by the incredible ClimateCare – whose vision is for a climate-neutral world.

As part of our B Corp push, we’ve made quite a few business changes – and many of these have resulted in us being able to offset 110% of our carbon. Not only has this made us a net carbon negative business, but also a climate positive one. So we’re putting this to the best possible use with ClimateCare, in order to have a genuine impact on humanity.

In Bangladesh, we’re helping The Bangladesh Bondhu Foundation with their Bondhu Chula (‘friendly stove’) initiative. While in Ghana, we’re doing the same with Gyapa Stoves. Although different projects in different continents, their core problem and approach is the same: preventing the use of harmful, open stoves by replacing them with ‘clean cooking’ ones.

Why are you focusing on stoves, we hear you ask?

Open stoves do untold harm

3 billion people across the world have no access to clean cooking services, instead relying on the burning of solid fuels on open stoves or fire pits. These open fires billow out huge amounts of smoke and particulates – creating a number of potentially serious problems.

In Bangladesh alone, they contribute to 49,000 premature deaths a year and cause millions to suffer with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, asthma, eye infections and skin complaints. Globally, this number rises to around 4 million deaths annually – a staggering statistic.

It’s not only the direct impact on humans that’s devastating, though. It’s causing plenty of indirect havoc, too. In fact, it claims global responsibility for 58% of all heat-trapping black carbon emissions, and for the burning of 1.3 billion tonnes of wood annually. Thought-provoking numbers indeed – yet the solution is a simple one.

Clean cooking for people and planet alike

If taken seriously, clean cooking could cut 2% of all global carbon emissions – so its significance really can’t be underestimated. Fortunately, the world is sitting up and taking notice. And mark-making* is literally helping to fuel this change.

Let’s head back to Bangladesh, where The Bondhu Foundation is making clean cooking available to a population in which less than 20% of its 35 million currently benefits.

Bondhu Chula stoves feature a combustion chamber, designed to ensure a burn that’s 50% more efficient and cleaner than open fires. They also have a chimney that takes pollutants out of the home. But this is far from the end of the positive marks they make. The carbon finances that help to fund their production subsidise much more besides – beginning with training of the local entrepreneurs that’ll make a living from the stoves.

These entrepreneurs – of which 80% are women – benefit from seven days of funded training, which teaches them not only how to make Bondhu Chulas, but how to install them, market them and maintain them through after-servicing. In short, carbon financing (including ours) subsidises the whole process – and it’s the same over in Ghana with the Gyapa Stoves.

What Bondhu Chula serves up

As far as worthwhile causes go, these little stoves are a breath of fresh(er) air.

As the most immediate (and arguably pressing) benefit, they remove significant amounts of smoke from houses, reducing harmful indoor pollution to improve health outlooks. With over 286,000 tonnes of carbon emission reductions to date in Bangladesh so far, overall air-quality looks rosier, too.

Their 50% reduction in fuel consumption not only gives poorer families more disposable income; it reduces pressure on local forests and improves biodiversity. As an added perk, it also means women and children are collecting one tonne less of wood each over the course of a year.

Local employment and economies are being increasingly boosted from the stoves, with over 5,000 Bondhu Chula entrepreneurs now operating in Bangladesh. While four fifths of them being female further improves gender equality in traditionally male-dominated societies.

In terms of the sheer scale of good they inspire, these simple pieces of equipment are worth their weight in gold. And we’re incredibly proud to be affiliated with them.

So it’s a big ‘yes’ to clean cooking from us. All because of the inspiration we draw from B Corps. And all because of our burning desire to become the best business we can be.

Every little helps

Despite this pride in our international exploits (and our local ones, of course), we’re far from preachy at mark-making*. We don’t believe ourselves to be a transformative force. But what we do believe in is making sure we’re always striving to leave goodmarks*, in everything we do.

And what else is life really about, if it’s not about that?

About Mike

Creative Director