Going Green: Corporations Make the Switch to Sustainability 

Photo by    贝莉儿 NG    on    Unsplash

With increased scrutiny on companies’ environmental practices, many are going green and have announced plans to phase out plastics, fossil fuels, or pesticides from their supply chain to meet the Paris Climate Accords and the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. 

It can be difficult to tell which companies are hoping for great headlines and which are committed to creating a greener future, but we’ve found several that measure up.

Household Goods
Windex is a recent addition to the fight against ocean plastics, partnering with Bloomingdale’s to reduce waste, increase recyclability, and remove pollutants from its supply chain. 

But S.C. Johnson, the brand’s parent company, hasn’t always had environmentally sound practices.

Saran wrap once used polyvinylidene chloride, a chemical known for its negative effects on the planet. Saran wrap removed the compound, causing a decrease in “clinginess”, but the environment is better because of it. The change prevented more than four million tons of the toxic substance from entering the supply chain.

Seventh Generation
Seventh Generation has had noble environmental goals from the beginning, committing to creating sustainable goods by using only renewable resources that will be replenished within seven generations. They use organic, plant-based materials for all their products, including detergents, cleaning agents, baby care products, and feminine hygiene products.

In late 2017, Wrangler announced a partnership with Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. Through this partnership, Wrangler’s cotton farms are tested to ensure the company is using the most environmentally-friendly growing practices. This is especially important given that more than 89% of apparel and footwear ends up in landfills.

Patagonia is famous pushing for legislation that protects wildlife and threatened environments. In 2018, it gained attention for donating the $10 million it saved from tax cuts to environmental nonprofits. Each year, since 1985, it has donated one percent of its sales to organizations that are preserving and restoring the natural environment.

Nike recently created a “moonshot” plan to change their image. Seventy-five percent of each Nike shoe is now made from recycled plastics or polyester. The company also uses 99% recycled water during the dye and wash process. Additionally, Nike has invested in developing alternatives to expensive and wasteful leather, including FlyLeather, which uses less water and produces fewer emissions than traditional leather. 

Consumer Packaged Goods: 
America’s largest grocery chain announced in late 2018 that it will be phasing out single-use plastic bags nationwide. This comes after several states and metro areas have banned plastic bags. Additionally, as part of its “Zero Hunger, Zero Waste Initiative”, the company is cutting down on food waste by providing meals to America’s most impoverished populations. It has also committed to ensuring that all goods are farmed or fished sustainably by 2020. 

Hershey, Nestlé, and Keurig offer fair-trade, sustainably-harvested alternatives to their traditional products.

And, despite appearing wasteful, 75% of Keurig’s K-cups are recyclable. The 25% of K-cups that cannot be recycled can be sent back to Keurig for discounts on future products.

The company also sources only fair-trade growers and monitors their water and fertilizer use. By 2020, it hopes to have a net negative impact on the environment. 

KraftHeinz has adopted a system to help their farms switch to drip irrigation to prevent water loss. The company also uses a water recycling program for its manufacturing plants, which are partially hydro-electrically powered. KraftHeinz has invested in communities that grow oil palms sustainably and committed to a zero-tolerance program for deforestation. 

Office Supplies
GreenLine Paper Company
Paper contributes to more than 90% of office waste. GreenLine Paper Company has been producing recycled paper products for 30+ years, and are tree-free, recyclable, sustainable, and biodegradable. They also offer similarly manufactured cleaning products, facial tissues, and trash bags.

Dell & Hewlett-Packard (HP)
Computer technology is not typically associated with green practices, but Dell and HP have been making great strides towards changing that perception. 

Dell’s hardware trade-in policy ensures that all of its products are properly disposed of or recycled for further use.

HP regularly tops various “greenest companies” lists thanks to their low-waste products. HP also has a partnership with solar and wind energy farms to ensure their offices are powered only by renewable resources. 

In addition to using recycled cardboard for its packaging, UPS has a fleet of electric trucks and cars. This “alternative fuel fleet” has logged more than 1 billion miles. The shipping giant has also invested in research and development for a variety of biofuel and fossil fuel alternative. 

Going green can seem daunting for corporations, but many of these brands often see profit increases — thanks to conscience consumers — as well as long-term savings from using low-energy products.