At one point in time, we thought that the planet would be able to provide for us indefinitely. We assumed that resources would continue to replace themselves and that no matter how much we took, there would always be more. Unfortunately, that type of thinking is exactly what got us into the mess that we’re in today.
The world’s resources are not infinite, and the planet is now having a harder time than ever keeping up with our demands. Not to mention, a lot of people still struggle with the concept of sustainability, so even while many of us are trying to do right by the planet, there are a million others who are counteracting those good intentions.
Thankfully, there are many well-known businesses who are taking steps toward sustainability and encouraging their customers and other companies to do the same. Whether they’re working with reusable products, hiring locally, or supporting environmentally charged political leaders, these companies are taking responsibility for their products and putting pressure on others to do the same.
The following are 7 eco-friendly companies that are giving back to the environment. If you’re ever in the need for items that these companies sell, be sure to consider them above others who aren’t doing their part to help keep the Earth safe.
Patagonia is well-known for their quality outerwear that often comes in all kinds of unique styles and bright colors. They began as a small business creating climbing gear but have since grown to be one of the leaders in sporting gear for men, women, and children. Since Patagonia has taken a larger stage, the company seems to have recognized its personal responsibility to speak for sustainability in a number of ways.
Patagonia is known to be striving after a specific mission: creating high-quality clothing while helping restore the planet’s resources and refraining from causing unnecessary harm. Customers will notice that the company encourages you to buy only what you need, even from their own product lines.
To do this, Patagonia has adopted a variety of practices. The first is to use a lot of reusable items to create its clothing, including using natural rubber for wetsuits, plastic bottles in parkas, and adopting low-impact processes that use less water and energy. The business also encourages customers to have their clothing repaired, as opposed to replaced, to keep more items out of the landfill.
Another practice Patagonia has acquired is creating more energy-efficient stores. This means being smarter about energy use, utilizing existing buildings for new stores, and encouraging employees to go green, carpool to work, etc. The last practice that is especially helpful for sustainability is that Patagonia donates a part of company sales to a variety of grassroots environmental groups all over the world.
Companies that have been around for a very long time have likely had to make the move toward sustainability as times have changed. Nike was one of those companies who didn’t have a very good track record in their earlier years when it came to sustainability, but they have quickly turned a new page in recent decades.
Nike has adopted all kinds of new practices to help decrease its carbon footprint, ensuring that it offers full disclosure about their supply chain and the types of production practices they use. The company recently made the Morgan Stanley list in 2015, which applauded companies with the most sustainable clothing and shoe brands.
Nike’s sustainable innovation looks at ways to decrease their environmental footprint, to transform their manufacturing processes, and to encourage employees and customers alike to make smarter choices. Similar to Patagonia, Nike is also incorporating reusable materials into their clothing and offering a unique app that informs customers about specific materials and their environmental footprints. They’ve also adopted practices to reduce their packaging and embrace more energy-efficient factories.
This cleaning-product company is the ultimate in smart sustainability. It has been considered one of the top B Corporations in the United States, meaning it is a business that creates a profit all while benefiting workers, the community, and the planet. Based on the company’s sustainability practices, its manufacturing, transparency, charitable actions, and more, Method has a significant place in the world of environmentally friendly companies.
Method is cradle to cradle certified (C2C), meaning all of its ingredients are assessed for safety and environmental health, including its design and packaging materials. The products are all made with reduced carbon emissions, while they continue to use smarter practices like reduced waste, renewable energy, and animal-friendly products to help restore our resources.
In terms of distribution, Method continues to look for ways to become a zero-waste organization while it continues to use fuel-efficient vehicles to bring its product to consumers. Method makes a point to work with suppliers who are only using the highest-quality materials, and that as much of their product is recyclable as possible. Currently, their cleaning bottles are made from 100% recyclable materials, and their laundry bottles are made from 50% recyclable materials. Anything and everything that can reduce water, emissions, energy, and materials have been embraced by the Method company.
New Belgium Brewing
The New Belgium Brewing Company was founded in 1991 by Kim Jordan, and it is located in Fort Collins, Colorado. It is the third-largest craft beer maker in the United States, and an absolute industry leader when it comes to sustainability. From the initial production to its advertising, New Belgium practices environmentally friendly methods from start to finish. The company monitors all of its waste production and energy use, and more than 75% of the waste accumulated through production is reused or composted.
As a result, the brewery diverts 99.8% of its waste from landfills, helping to reduce energy loss and emissions. Employees of the company are also encouraged to practice sustainability and even have access to bikes and smart cars like the Prius to run errands and deliver products.
Aside from their physical efforts from start to finish in manufacturing, production, transportation, and advertising, New Belgium Brewing is also an active presence in the climate-change conversation. The brewery acts as a very lively advocate of reversing the effects of climate change and has even signed agreements with the Brewery Climate Declaration and the BICEP pro-climate business coalition.
This superstore giant is a very popular brand name when it comes to household furniture, but it’s becoming even more well-known for being a leading company in sustainability as well. You can see sustainability through every process and business operation from start to finish with Ikea, which has embraced the idea of a reduced footprint from manufacturing and distribution, to store efficiency, and everything in between.
Almost 50% of the wood that Ikea uses for its furniture is from sustainable forests, and 100% of its cotton is acquired from farms that meet the Better Cotton standards. This means that the suppliers are using less energy, water, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers.
When it comes to Ikea’s storefronts, they’re embracing energy efficiency in a variety of ways, including their installation of more than 700,00 solar panels across all of their stores. Climate change has also been a huge part of Ikea’s investments, and the company has pledged to invest $680m in renewable energy, and an extra $450m to communities that are highly vulnerable to climate change.
The furniture giant is working toward being a net exporter of renewable energy by the year 2020. Measures that they’re taking to reach this goal include cutting supply chain emissions, increasing energy efficiency, renewable energy investments, and more. Over the past four years, Ikea has become 18% more energy efficient, which looks like a viable goal, considering it already produces 53% of its energy from renewable resources, including wind turbines and solar panels.
Cartridges for Planet Ark
The invention of computers, phones, and tablets has certainly made things easier and more convenient for us but, when it comes to disposing of these items and their accessories, they’ve done nothing good for the environment. Unfortunately, many people don’t know that all of your electronics can, in fact, be properly disposed of, but it’s lack of information that has people tossing their cords, computers, and ink jet cartridges.
Every year, there are more than 375 million ink jet cartridges that are improperly disposed of. Luckily, word is spreading about the ability to recycle and reuse these little squares, and more and more individuals and companies are taking action to make sure they end up in the right hands, as opposed to a landfill for more than 100 years.
Cartridges for Planet Ark is one of the well-known businesses that will take all of your cartridges and break them down properly, ensuring that they either return them to the proper manufacturer or break them down for proper recycling or reuse. This company has saved more than 35 million cartridges from ending up in landfills and continues to create connections to printer giants such as Canon, Epson, HP, and others to ensure the proper disposal of high-quality ink jet cartridges.
Businesses are encouraged to sign up for free collection boxes for their offices, and Cartridges for Planet Ark ensures that they end up in their proper location or that they’re broken down safely for reuse. This is one of the most successful companies in the Extended Producer Responsibility program (EPR), which aims to make sure companies are taking responsibility for their products and their environmental impact.
The North Face
This company does more than just create a great jacket. The North Face has been a front-runner when it comes to outerwear and sporting wear for decades, so it’s no surprise that they’re taking a more sustainable approach that’s similar to other competitors.
To start, The North Face creates high-quality clothing lines, which helps to ensure that their products last for a lifetime and never have to end up in a landfill. Similar to competitor Columbia, The North Face also takes part in the Clothes the Loop program, which encourages customers to return their old clothing and shoes with reward incentives.
To reduce their environmental impact, the popular company is working to find ways to reduce their energy, water, and chemical use, as well as eliminating the waste that results from their mills. The North Face associates a healthy planet with the success of their company and offers a fairly translucent display of their conversation, activism, and funding to help keep the planet healthy.
One of the smartest ways that The North Face is making an impact is through their “Hot Planet/Cool Athlete” initiative, which spreads the message about climate change to the younger generations. To do this in a way that sparks their interest, the company works with world-class athletes who travel to schools, events, and other programs to teach kids about climate change and what they can do to make a difference.
As a strong advocate of the outdoors, The North Face also offers what is called The North Face Fund, which helps non-profit organizations to get more people in the outdoors. The idea is that the more people can learn about and find a connection with the planet, the more likely they will be willing to want to preserve and take care of it.
Although there may still be many individuals and groups who are turning a blind eye to climate change, the fact is the planet is running out of resources and needs our help. Fortunately, many of the world’s leading companies are recognizing the responsibility they have with their branding, and they’re spreading the word around sustainability and making smart choices for the future of our planet.
Do you know what kind of mark you’re leaving on the planet? Learn more about your own ecological footprint by using an ecological footprint calculator to get a better idea. It’s always ideal to speak with companies before you invest in them or purchase their products; educate yourself about the types of things companies should be doing and actively seek out companies like the ones listed above to make smarter choices for the planet.