Prosperity Candle is committed to having a positive and sustainable social impact. The company was created for this purpose, and we will measure our progress in many ways. The narratives are as important as the numbers.
Listening to the women share their stories, give voice to their visions, and express candid opinions about how Prosperity Candle is affecting their lives will be the first measure of our work. We will then pair careful data collection with these stories and opinions to better understand the whole picture, because looking at whether the women are able to increase their incomes is only part of our work. We also want to see whether or not nutrition is improving, if women’s safety is enhanced, if more of their children are in school and receiving medical care, and how the women feel about their futures – are they hopeful? Are they taking leadership roles in their communities? Are their voices heard?
Our approach to measuring social impact must take into account all of these factors. And as a business that cares deeply about its environmental impact, we will be vigilant in assessing this area as well to minimize as much as possible our carbon footprint. We are committed to tracking and evaluating triple-bottom-line progress in ways that allow us to make better decisions and continually improve our model for broad and sustainable impact.
If we train a thousand women in candle-making to earn a supplemental income, we fail in our mission.
Why? Because we seek to empower as many as possible to build thriving businesses that can offer employment to others in their communities. This is the impact we seek to have. The diagram below illustrates the path we hope many women entrepreneurs will choose with ongoing support from us and other organizations.
As we grow and establish our systems for measuring impact, we will share the results with you and our partners. And here on this page, we will post useful information and lessons learned for supporters and others who are pursuing similar goals.
While our mission is focused on social impact – empowering women entrepreneurs in regions affected by conflict and natural disaster – we also recognize that sustainability issues are critical to our ability to run an efficient and environmentally sound business. With ever increasing greenhouse gases being emitted into the world, we want to be a responsible business that minimizes its environmental impact in every way possible.
Soy vs. Paraffin
This was one of the earliest questions we asked. At first glance, soy wax or beeswax seem like the obvious raw materials to use when thinking about environmental sustainability. Surprisingly, this is not always the case. After much research, we have concluded that our custom paraffin-soy blend is the most sustainable choice we can make today. Paraffin is a material that is available regionally in large quantity, so using it means a much lower carbon footprint than with other waxes that must be shipped in.
Paraffin is also a by-product, which if not used would go into the waste stream. Further, we have found that most soy wax is sourced from agribusiness where large amounts of petrochemicals are used in carbon-intensive cultivation methods. Thus, as others have argued, paraffin can sometimes be a more sustainable option than soy when you compare total environment impacts.
Healthwise, food-quality paraffin burns as cleanly as other high quality waxes. At Prosperity Candle, we use only the highest grade candle waxes with natural cotton wicks (no lead or zinc) for a long-lasting, clean burning candle.
Our team consists of locavores in both spirit and practice. We eat produce from New England farms shares, buy local dairy products, and support artisans in our neighborhoods. But we also recognize that not everything we use can be made locally – and that there are people living in distant places who can greatly benefit from trade.
So while working to improve the lives of women in places of conflict and disaster, we strive to minimize our carbon footprint wherever possible. We consolidate shipments, select routes with the smallest carbon footprint (we are a strong advocate of ships using wind power to reduce fuel use), minimize packaging and waste, recycle & reuse everything we can, and regularly purchase carbon offsets. Most importantly, we are committed to tracking and continually reducing Prosperity Candle’s carbon footprint over time.