Generally speaking, corporate America has not done the natural world a whole lot of favors. Until fairly recently, in fact, one of those sad oil spill birds would have made a fitting mascot for American capitalism as a concept. But now, those same sad, oil-slick birds star in Dawn commercials. Why? Because Dawn’s parent company Procter & Gamble found a profit motive in going green.
That’s good news for the environment.
When profit motives compel American businesses to wield their wealth and power for good, real change is possible. Today, there’s hardly a single major corporation that doesn’t dedicate prime website real estate to flaunting its eco-conscious bona fides.
For the very best among them, sustainability is more than just a marketing campaign. The best American companies chase profits just like all the others, but they do so with environmental stewardship as part of their corporate culture.
Ahimsa gets plastic off the table and out of the trash — and eventually the ocean — by making stainless steel dinnerware for kids that is designed to last a lifetime. The company’s slogan is “Celebrate #EarthDayEveryDay with Ahimsa,” a concept that has won praise from celebs ranging from Rachael Ray to Jessica Alba. The company donates a portion of every single purchase to initiatives dedicated to preserving the natural world and ending global food insecurity.
Known for its uber-popular organic natural soaps and self-care products, Dr. Bronner’s is guided by its “six cosmic principles.” No. 4 is “be fair to suppliers” and No. 5 is “treat the Earth like home.” The company steers some of its profits toward tree-planting and soil-regeneration programs to help reverse climate change. Its packaging is made from 100% post-consumer recycled materials and its waste/water/energy use is at near-zero levels. The waste the company produces every month can fit in a single dumpster.
This company makes containers, utensils, plates, bowls and other necessities for the food service industry, which is infamous for producing mountains of preventable waste. But Eco-Products changes all that with compostable, biodegradable products made from things like sugar cane, wheat straw and plant starch, which make up its GreenStripe line. Its BlueStripe line is made from post-consumer recycled products. They all perform just as well as plastic, including with hot foods, but they don’t wind up in the stomachs of whales and seagulls after their single-serving usefulness has passed.
One of the biggest corporations in the world, HP also boasts one of the world’s greatest environmental programs. Its Sustainable Impact initiative has recycled more than 875 million HP ink cartridges, not to mention 1 million plastic bottles every day. It’s kept more than 1.7 million pounds of plastic out of the ocean and achieved zero deforestation in the production of all HP paper. It has vowed to eliminate 75% of all single-use plastic in its packaging by 2025 and holds the title of the world’s No. 1 printer supply recycler.
It is simply no longer possible for someone to claim to be an environmentalist without also being a vegetarian. The meat industry is the environmental equivalent of setting tires on fire and then throwing them into the ocean, and Impossible — which changed the game when it partnered with Burger King — is the biggest vegan brand in America.
Going vegan is arguably the single biggest favor you can do for the Earth and Impossible is the proof. Compared to beef, its vegan burgers gobble up 96% less land, use 87% less water and emit 89% less greenhouse gas emissions.
McCormick & Company
If you’ve ever eaten food, it’s likely that you’ve tasted McCormick spices, which are among the most popular and familiar in America. That kind of reach requires the company to procure 3,000 agricultural products from 85 countries — and those relationships are the heart of McCormick’s sustainability initiatives.
Exploitation was long the name of the game when corporations from rich countries sourced ag products from farmers in poor countries. McCormick, however, launched the world’s first sustainability certification program for herbs and spices. It partnered with organizations like WWF, the Rainforest Alliance and the Sustainable Trade Initiative to create sustainability and fair trade programs in places like Madagascar — where the world gets its vanilla — Indonesia and India.
Tech giant and on-again, off-again Wall Street darling NVIDIA is making huge strides in combating climate change, both now and in the future — the near future.
By 2025, NVIDIA will source 65% renewable energy across the world. Its graphics processing units (GPUs) are 20% to 25% more efficient than AI CPU servers. Those GPUs also happen to be 1/25th the footprint of standard hyperscale data centers.
Apparel giant Patagonia is one of those companies that valued environmentalism as part of its corporate culture long before it was chic — the brand has been synonymous with sustainability from the very beginning. It voluntarily imposed a 1% “Earth tax” on itself, the proceeds of which support environmental nonprofits around the world. Plenty of corporations hire celebrity spokespeople, but Patagonia harnesses its star power to further its cause as much as its bottom line. Its network of Global Sports Activists acts as a group of environmental ambassadors on the company’s behalf.
Seventh Generation’s cleaning products are known for their natural and nontoxic ingredients, and each package informs customers about how many trees and how much petroleum was saved with every purchase. The company also spearheads several environmental activism and action initiatives. Its list of partners is a who’s who of the green movement, including the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action and the Certified Corporation. Among its most impactful programs is Commit to Clean, which works to urge cities to shift to 100% clean energy.
Its name isn’t as widely known as Patagonia, but Tentree is a trusted brand among fans of sustainable apparel made from things like hemp, cork and organic cotton. Not only are its “Earth-first” products made from sustainable materials, but its ethical manufacturing processes use 75% less water. The company has planted nearly 56 million trees to date and vows to plant 1 billion by 2030. Every single purchase plants 10 trees — Tentree, get it?
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