by Erika Parker Price
It seems every company is slapping green labels on their products, but is that just greenwashing or are all these companies going green? The practice has become so commonplace, it has even been added to the dictionary. A company is greenwashing when they spin the truth to improve their image as environmentally responsible. If they are truly committed, companies going green aren’t just looking at one initiative, but rethinking the entire way they do business. Read below about five companies who are redefining what it means to be green.
Waste Management – Once referred to simply as a garbage company, Waste Management has transformed themselves into an environmental solution provider. Waste is no longer something to get rid of, but rather a resource. They make recycling and composting easy for their 20 million customers, but they also have 119 landfill gas-to-energy projects. By capturing methane from landfills, they are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and generating enough renewable energy to power 1 million homes.
Patagonia – Measuring their environmental impact for more than two decades, Patagonia has demonstrated themselves as a leader of companies going green. As a result of tracking the footprint of their products from design to delivery, Patagonia has switched to organic cotton, pioneered the use of recycled polyester and nylon, and implemented a consumer recycling program for its own apparel. They also support environmental causes by funding grassroots efforts around the world and supporting their employees’ volunteer interests.
Dell - Electronic waste is one of the fastest growing and most dangerous sources of waste. Manufacturer Dell is one of the computer companies going green with a commitment to take responsibility for e-waste. According to the EPA, the US generated over 3 million tons of e-waste in 2008 with less than a 14% recycling rate. Dell Reconnects is a partnership with Goodwill that provides 2200 sites to collect electronic products from any manufacturer. These electronics are filled not only with hazardous, but also valuable and scarce materials—everything from lead to cadmium to mercury. Dell is also committed to reduced energy consumption with each of its products earning Energy Star certification or its equivalent.
Burt’s Bees – Aiming for a net positive impact on the environment isn’t easy for a personal care company, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. In 2010, Burt’s Bees successfully achieved their goal of sending zero waste to landfills. First, they lowered the total amount of waste by aggressively following the reduce/reuse/recycle mantra. To dispose of the remaining waste, Burt’s Bees partnered with a company that shreds and blends their waste into fuel for cement manufacturers. With 100% employee involvement, they are now looking for ways to reduce their energy consumption, lower their water usage through a reverse osmosis water reclamation program, and make their products 100% natural.
Walmart – Perhaps the biggest surprise in companies going green is Walmart. Is it possible that this bastion of consumerism could be the future of sustainability? They earned their spot on the list of influential companies with the introduction of the Walmart Sustainability Index, a detailed questionnaire rolled out to all 100,000 suppliers. With plans to measure the sustainability of all the products on its shelves and offer this information to consumers in an easy format, it has become clear that this could truly be a game-changer.
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