How Big Brands Are Going Green: Environmentally Friendly Companies
The world continues to advance in bold and exciting ways. New technology is entering the marketplace, sleeker cars are hitting the highways, and innovative products are flying off the shelves. For every step forward, there are always a few steps back, and unfortunately, the global environment has become an unfortunate victim of our progress.
Luckily, large and small changes are helping us move toward a brighter, greener future. A variety of well-known companies are taking the steps necessary to being more environmentally friendly. These power players are a major force in our economy and every move they make has a strong impact.
Take a look at ten green companies with the biggest potential in reducing our carbon footprint.
Procter & Gamble
It’s difficult to imagine, but Procter & Gamble actually started as a modest, family-run candle and soap business in 1837. Since then, they’ve taken enormous strides and now have a net worth of over $200 billion. Today, their product line includes big brands like: Tide, Charmin, Febreze, Crest, Dawn, Head & Shoulders, and Vicks.
Needless to say, this company has a huge influence in our society. As such, their green initiatives have the potential to make an enormous difference. Procter & Gamble’s environmental sustainability efforts have several areas of focus that include water usage, waste, CO2 emissions, and packaging.
These efforts have already had incredible results. Water from the HVAC systems at their Saudi Arabia location is collected and reused for irrigation and to top off fire water tanks. An astounding 70% of their global production sites are sending no manufacturing waste to landfills. Many of their products are made with 100% wind electricity. And to top it all off, their “Holy Grail” project is ensuring that 90% of their packaging is recyclable.
At the Summer Olympics in 1928, the company that would eventually be known as Puma was starting their upward trajectory. Gold medalist Jesse Owens wore their signature spikes close to ten years later and it was all uphill from there, with Puma eventually achieving billion dollar sales and partnering with all-star sports teams across the world.
Athletes rely on Puma for quality shoes and exercise gear. However, the world is also starting to rely on this company to protect the environment. The brand’s Forever Faster strategy is designed to accelerate positive change in the industry and build a sustainable tomorrow today.
In 2011, Puma redesigned the packaging for their shoes and called it “The Clever Little Bag.” This reusable shoe bag is made from cornstarch and decomposes naturally within three months. Thus far, the bag has reduced the company’s paper consumption by over 65% and cut down on their annual carbon emissions by 10,000 tons!
Going to a small café can turn into big business, at least if you’re C.E. Doolin. He bought a bag of corn chips, ended up purchasing the recipe, and began making the first Fritos from his mom’s kitchen. Now Frito Lay is a global empire that makes up 40% of the “savory snacks” sold in the United States.
Frito Lay is a giant part of the snack market with many locations and products. Fortunately, the Fortune 500 company is also dedicated to having a positive impact on the environment. They are exploring new ways to manufacture their products and supply them to stores across the country.
The company, which is part of PepsiCo, spent 10 years reducing the environmental impact at their facility in Casa Grande, Arizona. This was done by burning wood waste to generate steam, upgrading the truck fleet to all electric, and running the plant on landfill gas. They also installed a biomass boiler system at their Topeka, Kansas location, cutting fossil fuel use and carbon emissions. Not to mention, the company is exploring sustainable packaging ideas, such as the plant-based, compostable SunChips bags.
Founder Ingvar Kamprad lived in a small farm village in Sweden. As a young boy, he was already a budding entrepreneur, selling matches to nearby neighbors and delivering them via bicycle. Fast forward to today and IKEA operates in 41 countries with over 300 stores, an estimated 149,000 employees worldwide, over 500 million visitors a year per store, and a projected annual revenue of $65.3 billion.
Since its inception, IKEA has been focused on using natural resources and cutting down on energy consumption. The packaging has always been compact to reduce the amount of cardboard used. Plus, they’ve never offered plastic bags for any of their small items. The giant blue IKEA tote bag, introduced in 1996, has a life of its own at this point!
The Swedish furniture store has sourced about half of its wood from sustainable foresters and 100% of its cotton comes from farms that meet the Better Cotton standards. In addition, IKEA has 700,000 solar panels powering its stores, a cardboard compacter in their warehouse, positions dedicated to environmental causes, and have even given all their employees bikes as company gifts in attempt to cut down on our carbon footprint.
Bennie Marcus and Arthur Blank were enjoying a cup of coffee when they came up with the idea for Home Depot. The goal was to create a superstore that would not only sell household essentials, but also offer highly trained employees who could guide consumers with home repair or improvement projects. Today, there are over 2,200 Home Depots in the United States.
The Eco Options Program at Home Depot is all about living a green lifestyle. The initiative is based on five pillars that include: energy efficiency, water conservation, healthy homes, clean air, and sustainable forestry.
Home Depot encourages their customers to be involved in eco-friendly practices. Through their program, the hardware store has saved consumers $903 million in energy costs and 76 billion gallons of water. People can find solar panels and rechargeable batteries for their homes, buy WaterSense® labeled products for their faucets, and browse a large selection of cordless window coverings. In addition, they also have places for shoppers to recycle CFL bulbs, batteries, cell phones, and common materials like plastic, paper, and aluminum.
Blue Ribbon Sports started as a distributor for a Japanese shoemaker. Less than a decade later, they were on their own and rebranded Nike Inc. At the time, founders Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight only had $1,200 in the bank, but that has since drastically changed. Nike stands as the most valuable brand in sports with celebrity endorsements, powerful subsidiaries including Converse and Hurley, and a cool $75 billion in net worth.
The aim at Nike is to minimize our environmental footprint, one step at a time. New products with their signature logo are designed with recycled materials and minimal environmental impact. The efforts include transforming factory straps into premium materials and reducing water use during manufacturing.
Nike is a bit late to the game when it comes to eco-friendly practices. However, they’ve recently changed their behavior and introduced new green initiatives to their brand. To start, they’ve hired developers to create an app that helps you compare the environmental footprint of different fabrics. Additionally, they’ve started using post-consumer recycled materials in their products, including 2011 World Cup jerseys.
An estimated 90 million people own an iPhone in the United States. Apple, however, didn’t begin with such impressive sales. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started the company from their garage with dismal results. Eventually they found their groove and are now recognized as one of the most influential brands of all time!
The mission at Apple is to create products that are the best in the world and the best for the world. This is done by powering their facilities with 100% renewable energy, using eco-friendly materials in their products, and even creating a recycling robot named Daisy!
In 2015, Apple signed an estimated $1 billion deal with First Solar to power their California stores, offices, data centers, and headquarters. Through the Apple Renew Program, consumers can trade in their devices for a store gift card or have them recycled for free. Plus, PVC is removed from all their power cords and headphones, which make them safer to recycle.
Founder Blake Mycoskie was shocked when he traveled to Argentina and saw the number of children without shoes. This inspired him to start his own company, TOMS, which donates a pair of shoes to a child for every pair sold. To date, TOMS has donated over 60 million shoes to children around the world.
TOMS is known as the One for One brand and for good reason. They are dedicated to responsibly manufacturing their products, investing in sustainable systems, and giving back to the community.
Aside from donating shoes to those in need, TOMS is doing a lot of great work for the environment. This includes providing clean drinking water to impoverished areas, creating an exclusive vegan line of footwear for Whole Foods, and working alongside the Textile Exchange in using materials that nurture our planet.
Based in Seattle, Amazon wasn’t always the #1 online retailer in the world. Jeff Bezos started the company in 1994, only selling books since they seemed like the most logical product. Go on Amazon today and you’ll find anything and everything. People love the shopping experience offered on the site, explaining why a whopping 80 million people subscribe to Amazon Prime.
Ecommerce is notorious for being harmful for the environment, which is why Amazon is taking the steps necessary toward a sustainable future. They have a “24/7 policy of eco-consciousness and awareness” that ensures their company is always focused on energy conservation and responsible sourcing.
Perhaps one of Amazon’s biggest green efforts is the installation of solar rooftops at their distribution warehouses. However, there are many other efforts Amazon has taken toward improving the environment. Some of the most notable include powering a clean future with 10 renewable energy farms with wind turbines and working directly with manufacturers to reduce waste.
Surprisingly, Google almost never got off the ground! Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin disagreed about nearly everything, but eventually they found a way to compromise. Today, the world would be nowhere without the king of all search engines. Google has even taken their brand further with innovative products and services.
Many brands will talk about going green, but Google has actually taken action and put their money behind their projects. The company has invested $2.5 billion in renewable energy projects including mapping forest loss, tracking illegal fishing, and using machines to conserve energy within their data centers.
Google has put time and energy into many projects throughout the years. One of their biggest was an initiative focused on making the search engine 100% powered by renewable energy. It’s also interesting to note that the café at Google’s headquarters proudly uses what they deem “ugly” produce to make lunches for their 60,000+ employees.
Slowly, industries of all sizes are starting to realize that we have to take action now to ensure a better future for the next generations. If every company was like the ones featured here, who knows how green our Earth will look? Clearly, we need to take action now!*
- 110 million Americans live in areas with harmful levels of air pollution.
- Less than 4% of the water on Earth is safe to drink.
- 91% of plastic ends up in landfills even though it’s recyclable.
At the end of the day, eco-friendly products and practices all make a difference. Even if you’re not a giant company with millions of dollars, you can still make smart shopping decisions. The whole world is in all of our hands!
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National Geographic. (2018). Earth’s Freshwater. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.nationalgeographic.org/media/earths-fresh-water/
Parker, L. (2017, July 19). A Whopping 91% of Plastic Isn’t Recycled. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment/