2020 Impact Report
1. Time To Step Up
2. Our Response To Covid-19
3. Fighting For Equity
4. What We’re Doing About The Climate Change Crisis
5. Business For Good — Our B Corp Score
6. Certified, Trusted, True
7. The Healthiest Materials On The Planet
8. We Are An Activist Company
9. How We’re Going To Do Even More In 2021
10. Our Land Acknowledgment
2020 was a year like no other — and one we’ll never forget. From a pandemic that took the lives of millions and affected everyone to an election that challenged our very democracy to tragic killings at the hands of police — and nationwide protests — that made institutional racism impossible to ignore to shocking wildfire, an endless hurricane season, and an ever-worsening climate crisis, it was a year that forced us all to take account of our values.
Credits: Top-right by Owen Yancher. Bottom-right by THD3. CC BY-SA 4.0
For Avocado, we first had to look inward. Then, we knew we had to act. We had to keep pushing our commitment to the intersectionality of environmental and social responsibility on which we founded the company. We took our Climate Neutral certification a step further: In March, we became the first carbon negative mattress company on the planet — 20 years ahead of the target set by the Paris Agreement. In May, we became a certified B Corporation. We quickly responded to each crisis as it unfolded, pivoting to organic masks and supporting healthcare workers, safe elections, social justice groups, disease prevention, and food security. We set a new standard for 1% For the Planet members — the organization named Avocado its inaugural Pinnacle Award winner. The distinction honors a business that raises the bar for environmental responsibility and goes above and beyond the commitment to the organization. 1% chose Avocado Green because we’ve donated millions of dollars to support 30 nonprofits that address their core mission and our commitment to carbon neutrality.
But we’re not here to pat ourselves on the back. We know the issues we faced in 2020 are not going anywhere. Even if their explicitness in our day to day lives lessens, we know the real work of building a fair, equitable, sustainable company — and planet — is a lifelong endeavor. As we think about the work of our lifetimes, we’re reminded of a line from the Talmud: You are not expected to complete the task. Neither are you allowed to put it down.
It’s with that notion in mind that we reflect on our impact in 2020 and look ahead to 2021. We know we can do more. We know we can do better.
— Mark Abrials, Avocado Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer
In mid-March, when we realized Covid-19 would be a global threat of unprecedented scale, we knew we had to do something. As we learned terms like “flattening the curve,” “social-distancing,” and “PPE,” we quickly repurposed our Cut & Sew Department in our Los Angeles factory for the production of face masks. At first, the effort was a not-for-profit initiative. As demand required us to scale up — we’ve now sewn and distributed more than 500,000 face masks — we offered our organic, reusable masks at low cost. We designed the masks to make wearing them accessible, convenient, and environmentally responsible, and we donated them to hospitals and other organizations in need. In November, we also donated 15,000 masks to the State of California to help facilitate a fair and safe election.
We also developed an urgent partnership with EcoHealth Alliance. Through our commitment to 1% For the Planet, we donate 1% of all annual revenue to nonprofits whose work supports social and environmental causes. As Covid-19 continued to spread, we wanted to support an organization that addressed the problem that led to the disease in the first place. EcoHealth Alliance’s mission is to prevent the migration of deadly disease spilling over from animals into humans to stop pandemics and promote conservation. The group works with local partners in the U.S. and around the world to strengthen disease prevention and detection systems in hotspot regions where the threat of new outbreaks is highest and resources lowest.
We’re also proud to offer 5 percent discounts to those on the front lines of the fight against Covid-19, including verified nurses, doctors, military, law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and educators. It’s a simple way to show our appreciation for the invaluable work these individuals do, and to make an Avocado Mattress, and a good night’s sleep, as accessible as possible for these service members.
Covid also exacerbated issues for those experiencing homelessness. Avocado was proud to donate all our returned mattresses and pillows to our nationwide network of shelters. Family Promise, one of our longstanding donation partners, says 28,398 episodes of homelessness were avoided or shortened because of the help of their partners. “We are most grateful for Avocado’s extraordinary support,” says Cara Bradshaw, Family Promise Chief Impact Officer. “In addition to helping more families and children remain sustainably housed, our partnership helps to ensure that every child has access to a brighter future."
After the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery — the latest examples of a long history of violence toward Black Americans — Avocado Green, like many others, was compelled to look inward.
The moment posed an imminent, obvious question: What were we going to do about systemic racism in our country? Our mission to be a socially responsible company and support human rights begins with our own team members. In fact, as a certified B Corp, we’re legally committed to addressing the impact of our decisions on all stakeholders of the company, from workers to the communities in which we operate. So we knew that our analysis had to start internally. We had staff-wide conversations about the impact of race on our personal and professional lives. We formed a diversity and inclusion committee, whose goal is to bring our core value of social responsibility to life by engaging our teams in conversations around inequality and injustice.
One of the biggest social impacts we can make is by providing living wages, comprehensive medical care, and paid vacation time. In 2020, we were able to offer that to many more people — our company grew 63 percent in terms of job creation. We also provide employees quarterly paid volunteer days (the company has logged 120 volunteer hours this year, from Hoboken to Atlanta to Los Angeles), and programs like Headspace and ClassPass to support mental and physical health. Our team members also value the company’s sense of purpose to creating a healthier planet.
“I have two girls,” says Rosa Salazar, who works in Avocado’s quilting department. “I like to help save the environment and at the same time extend the lives of others who come after us, and that’s one of the biggest dreams for me and my daughters.”
We know environmental issues are inherently connected to social justice issues, and we’re proud that our factory in California, as well as our latex and wool processing facilities in India, are GOTS certified. GOTS prohibits the use of toxic inputs, including dyes and chlorine-based pre-treatments. They also require the treatment of wastewater discharged from processing our natural materials.
In Rampur, India, our GOTS organic certified wool factory is a lynchpin of the community. Many of the employees are women who were victims of domestic violence, and their jobs support their independence. Inside, no chemicals are used. The raw wool is naturally cleaned, carded, and combed, which creates some of the best quality wool in the world, and also supports healthier, safer communities.
We also process our own organic latex in the GOLS organic certified latex processing facility we co-own in Kerala, India. This eliminates middlemen and costly markups, provides transparency, and full traceability, and allows us to source the best organic latex for use in mattresses and pillows. At the same time, it helps us maintain the highest standards for ecology and social responsibility. No other brands do this.
At Avocado, we also always use GOTS organic certified cotton in our mattresses, pillows, and bedding. Organic cotton is not just a higher-functioning material. Conventional cotton is a polluted crop that wastes more energy and water. Organic cotton is held to a stricter standard. Ours is ethically grown in India without pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. This is better for you, our family farmers, and the planet.
We knew we could do more beyond our supply chain, too. We became more intentional about including people of color in our marketing partnerships and product photoshoots. At Avocado magazine, where the majority of writers are people of color, we dove deep on topics like environmental racism, intersectionality, and disenfranchisement.
The effects of the climate crisis have never been more brutally stark than what we witnessed in 2020. June saw what is likely the highest temperature ever in Siberia — 100 degrees. In July, Death Valley, California, recorded a temperature of 134 degrees — the hottest air temperature ever documented. Climate change leads to the rapid intensification of hurricanes, and in the fall, meteorologists ran out of names for all the looming off-shore natural disasters. The climate crisis exacerbated horrific, unprecedented wildfires in Australia, Siberia, and throughout the American West, where, in August, it seemed like the entire region was blanketed in thick smoke. That month, all 40 million residents of California were on evacuation notice. Around the same time in Oregon, fires fueled by extreme drought conditions caused by climate change resulted in the worst air quality anywhere in the world. For weeks, it was inadvisable to even step outside.
At Avocado, we know what’s on the line if things get even worse, which they will if we don’t do something about the carbon emissions warming our planet — billions of displaced refugees, billions in damages, and a fundamental reshaping of society as we know it. That’s why, as part of the We Are Still In pact, we’re calling on the Biden-Harris Administration and federal policymakers to launch a national mobilization on climate action and clean recovery. The time is now.
We know we have to do our part, too. That’s why, in 2019, Avocado Green became the first mattress company to become Climate Neutral Certified, effectively making our business carbon neutral. In 2020, we took it a step further by going carbon negative — offsetting more carbon emissions than the company generates. We do that by reducing everything we can, then by offsetting all of our scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. That's the full carbon footprint that our business activity generates, from resource extraction to finished product delivery. Our offset projects help mitigate climate change and support innovation in addressing greenhouse gas emissions reductions. For 2020, we funded verified projects with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation through the purchase of 39,000 metric tons of carbon offsets. That’s the carbon dioxide equivalent of nearly 100 million miles driven in the average passenger vehicle.
Of course, the most important thing we can do is limit how many emissions we’re responsible for in the first place. While many mattress companies make their products overseas, we manufacture our mattresses in California, which limits transportation costs to the environment, as does our network of more than 1,000 nonprofit partners we connect with whenever we have a mattress return.
At Avocado, we also use natural, certified organic materials that have less of an impact on the planet. We believe in a circular economy that accounts for the life cycle of our products. That’s one reason we design our products with renewable materials, like cotton, linen, wool, kapok fiber, and latex. The materials make many of our products biodegradable. What’s more, our GOTS certified California factory, which we power entirely with renewable energy, is working toward its zero waste certification. We upcycle all our material byproducts. For our furniture line, we use reclaimed wood whenever possible. When it’s not, we use fast-growing, FSC-certified timber like alder and Douglas fir.
We also limit our energy use as much as we can. We use recycled steel coils and natural latex instead of a synthetic, petroleum-based alternative. For the energy we do consume, we match 100% of it with purchases of renewable energy certificates from wind farms through Arcadia Power. As a result, clean energy is driven to the grid and supports the growth of wind energy.
Meanwhile, through our four retail locations — we added two in 2020, in Orange County and La Jolla — we booked more than 800 appointments for our video retail experience through Zoom, effectively keeping some 3.23 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere (assuming that each customer, on average, would have traveled 10 miles to a store). At our Experience Centers, which we designed to be community hubs, we also hosted 20 free virtual wellness events to support mental health (such as meditations and sound baths), and all profits from non-Avocado products sold in the Experience Centers go back to our nonprofit partners. Meanwhile, 25 percent of purchases for the stores were made with certified sustainable, women/minority owned, recycled, certified B Corp, or local companies.
We believe that our business should be a force for good — that in addition to providing world-class, organic products, we should be leaders in social and environmental responsibility. In May 2020, we became a Certified B Corp, with a score of 126.2 — putting Avocado well ahead of the 80-point threshold and the highest score of any mattress and bedding company. We had high impact scores in Community, Environment, and Workers categories.
Certified B Corporations are the gold standard for responsible business, demanding accountability toward a sustainable and inclusive economy. The rigorous certification process provides the highest standard of verified positive impact of a company. Once approved, B Corporations are legally required to change their governing documents to consider the result of their decisions on workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.
B Corp wants to redefine what success in business means for society, shifting from a model centered around shareholders — those who profit from a company — to stakeholders — those who are impacted by a company. B Corp measures businesses by whether they are good actors and deliver value to all. This means reckoning with the broader implications of business decisions and understanding their impacts beyond the bottom line. More than 3,000 companies worldwide are now B Corp certified.
Many companies know that “being green” is good for business. Not many companies have third-party organizations audit their company to certify social and environmental responsibility. These certifications validate what we’re doing is good for people and the planet — and not just greenwashing.
The Global Organic Latex Standard, the Global Organic Textile Standard, MADE SAFE, GREENGUARD Gold, B Corp, Climate Neutral — these are the most rigorous, independent certifications available to verify social and environmental responsibility through every step of our company. For example, GOLS ensures that products contain more than 95 percent of certified organic raw material. Our own GOTS and GOLS certified factory in Los Angeles, meanwhile, validates that our valued team receives fair wages, comprehensive benefits, and safe working conditions. GOTS also prohibits the use of the kinds of toxic chemicals commonly used in textile processing that can cause cancer, birth defects, and other serious illnesses. MADE SAFE is a rigorous scientific screening process that only allows the use of ingredients that are not known or suspected to harm human health, animals, aquatic life, or ecosystems. GREENGUARD Gold and Formaldehyde Free represent the highest emissions standards for chemical exposure and pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and phthalates. And 1% For the Planet ensures that our donations — we give away 1 percent of our revenue through the program — go to vetted nonprofits.
Owning our entire process — from the farm to the mattress — is what really sets Avocado apart. It just doesn't happen in the mattress world. But just like with food, our products are only as good as the ingredients we use. Of course, quality control and more affordable products is just the start. By removing the middlemen in the supply chain, we’re able to work symbiotically with farmers, fostering local relationships and developing rural communities, while making sure we meet the strict ecological and social responsibility practices outlined by our rigorous organic certifications.
The 180,000 sheep we raise wander throughout the 40,000 hectares we manage in the Himachal Pradesh region of northern India. We use our sustainably-harvested wool — one of the world’s most breathable, soft, and thermoregulating natural fibers in the world — for our Avocado Green Mattresses, Luxury Crib Mattress, Organic Crib Mattress, and toppers.
In Kochi, a lush and diverse region 2,000 miles to the south, we co-own our Avocado Organic Latex processing facility along with more than 4,000 acres of latex farms we also manage. Among thousands of rows of rubber trees (Hevea Brasiliensis), our farmers harvest the pure rubber sap that is used to make the latex foam cores in our mattresses and toppers.
Conventional cotton is a polluted crop. But our organic cotton is held to a stricter standard. It’s ethically grown in India without pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. This is better for you, our family farmers, and the planet.
Avocado uses its influence to support climate change legislation and foster a business community dedicated to balancing purpose and profit. That’s why we’re members of the We’re Still In pledge, as well as Citizens Climate, Lobby, Civic Alliance, and the Climate Collaborative.
Bri Decker, our Sustainability Manager, is also on the B-Local board of Georgia, and frequently speaks to the local business community about sustainable business practices.
We understand that our commitment to environmental and social responsibility, the positive impact we’re able to make on the world, will always be evolving — that we’re still just getting started. Here are a few ways we’ve identified to improve in the next year.
Avocado wants to acknowledge that it operates on the traditional territory of Native people. Our offices are located in Hoboken, New Jersey, on the traditional territory of the Munsee Lenape people. Our factory in Fullerton, California, is on land in the traditional territory of the Tongva and Kizh people. Avocado recognizes the impacts of colonialism and is committed to supporting Indigenous causes through our partnership with 1% For the Planet.
During winter 2020, we donated 1% of all our revenues to Trees, Water, People. The organization is on a mission to improve, protect, and manage natural resources with climate-vulnerable populations. TWP designs conservation projects throughout Latin America and U.S. tribal lands to enhance the environment while creating economic opportunities for locals.