Earth Day began April 22, 1970 as a day to promote a healthy, sustainable environment around the world. Specifically, it served as a way to highlight the potential environmental problems America’s current lifestyle created. Now, in 2013, Earth Day can seem to be nothing more than a hay day for marketing departments. You see campaigns that highlight the “numerous” sustainable practices of their company.
In honor of Earth Day 2013, we wanted to highlight a few leaders in sustainability that make “going green” as commonplace in their business models as turning a profit. Newsweek produces a great list (Newsweek Green Rankings) that ranks the most sustainable companies in the United States based on a green score, and the Global 100 is an invaluable list of the most sustainable companies around the world.
Using both of these lists, we compiled a list of companies in North Carolina, where Everblue is headquartered, that have strong sustainability policies integrated in their business models.
1. Bank of America Corporation (#27 Newsweek Green Rankings) ranks number one on our list primarily because of its environmental business initiatives. Not only does Bank of America provide funding for sustainability groups such as SolarStrong (a group that will create thousands of solar installation jobs for veterans), but it also shows its commitment through its LEED Gold-certified headquarters.
2. Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (#136 Newsweek Green Rankings) comes in at a close second. Lowe’s highlights a goal to pursue sustainable practices while maintaining a “safe and comfortable working and shopping environment.” It provides environmentally responsible products, educates employees, customers, and the general public, and uses resources efficiently.
3. Hanesbrands Inc. (#141 Newsweek Green Rankings) gives high-level executives the task of carrying out the proposed sustainability practices. Its main goals are to maintain 30% renewable energy use, reduce energy use per manufactured unit by 20%, reduce water usage, and many more. With strong goals in mind, Hanesbrands can be considered a leader in sustainability practices.
4. Family Dollar Stores (#289 Newsweek Green Rankings) highlight company-wide initiatives for increasing corporate sustainability. Each store is expected to support their specified initiatives, and it has paid off for the company. According to a sustainability report, Family Dollar Stores decreased energy use, decreased emissions through its work with SmartWay, and made environmentally friendly changes to new and existing stores.
5. Reynolds American (#301 Newsweek Green Rankings) is not as high on Newsweek’s list, but it has a very strong sustainability policy. One of its goals is to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill due to manufacturing processes, ideally, to zero. Reynolds American strives for more than just the minimum or most cost-effective changes. It pioneers cleanup programs, recycling campaigns, and new energy-efficient manufacturing center designs.
While these companies are making massive strides in corporate sustainability, the general industry is playing catch-up. Many companies have recognized that there is a huge incentive to become more sustainable but lack the knowledge and tools to accomplish their goals. As the term “corporate sustainability” becomes more commonplace, more companies will integrate many of these money-saving initiatives into long-term business models rather than simply using them as marketing campaigns on Earth Day.