As busy moms, we may not be willing to commit to composting or walking to work, but we are making changes. instead of tossing outgrown play clothes, we pass them on. We welcome hand-me-down books and blocks; no scooter will end up in a landfill on our watch. And “paper or plastic” seems an almost quaint option as we stuff milk and eggs into our reusable grocery totes. We reduce, reuse and recycle so that our children inherit a cleaner planet, and we expect the same from the businesses we support. That’s why Working Mother is recognizing companies that have embraced a greener outlook. We applaud these visionaries for incorporating sustainable business practices while also opting to give back through scholarships, donations to schools and support for green social programs.
Helping kids grow organic gardens
Annie’s Homegrown had us at its bunny-shaped mac ’n’ cheese. For years, moms have gotten picky eaters to devour a bowl of good-for-you pasta when all other foods have failed. Plus, the company has been thinking outside the convenience foods box from the start, putting the health of kids and the planet at the top of its business mission. Founded 21 years ago by farmer and mom of two Annie Withey, the all-natural line of meals and snacks features ingredients grown without pesticides, fungicides or synthetic fertilizers. Today, Annie’s supports more than 75 organic family farms. Plus, it funds and donates products to kids’ organic-gardening and education programs. through its grants for gardens program, schools and nonprofits focused on sustainability can apply for cash to buy gardening supplies. Annie’s cases for causes donates its products to school gardens, and the company gives $50,000 in scholarships to undergraduate students studying sustainable agriculture. Products are packaged in recycled boxes, and the company offsets its CO2 emissions by supporting NativeEnergy.
Making eco-friendly accessible and affordable
Clorox has been focusing on its impact on the environment in recent years, starting with its purchase of the sustainable wellness brand burt’s bees. Next, it added the plant-derived Greenworks label to its lineup, bringing an affordable green cleaning product to american homes. Both acquisitions proved to be not only eco-smart but also wise business decisions: in 2009, the company announced that profits rose by 23 percent despite the recession. Late last year, clorox agreed to phase out the use and transport of chlorine gas, which causes air pollution. It now partners with Sierra Club, which, after conducting its own tests of the greenworks label, endorsed the brand—the first time a nonprofit has ever endorsed a housecleaning product. greenworks also hosts national kids’ clothing swaps, helping to limit the 23.8 billion pounds of clothing that end up in u.s. landfills each year. And the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation offers grants of up to $50,000 to nonprofits focused on environmental restoration. Employee volunteers (aka “ecobees”) help build playgrounds and plant gardens in their communities.
Supporting education and renewable energy
For 15 years, the company has given a big boost to the next generation and the planet they’ll inherit. most notable is Intel’s $100 million annual investment in education—particularly math, science and technology—and its support of everyone from teachers and grade school kids to university students and underprivileged communities around the world. Each year, the company challenges 1,500 precollege students in an international science fair, where top prizes include $50,000 and a trip to the nobel prize ceremony. One of last year’s winners discovered how mealworms could decompose environmentally destructive styrofoam. Along with Google and Dell, Intel established the climate savers computing initiative to make more energy-efficient computers available at a reasonable price. Developing the more efficient Intel Core microarchitecture eliminated about 15 million tons of CO2 over the past three years. Intel earned the no. 1 spot on the EPA’s Fortune 500 Green List in 2009: It’s the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the U.S. (almost half its energy comes from sources like solar and wind).
Protecting the planet and people, one latte at a time
Starbucks has become more than your average coffeehouse. While perking up americans, it has inspired young people here and around the globe to make social change. In 2008 alone, through its Starbucks Social Entrepreneurs Fund, it issued $2.1 million in grants to organizations that support young innovators. last year’s recipients included a U.S. student who created a garden for AIDs orphans in Kenya. starbucks partners with save the children to help improve health and education in coffeefarming communities, as well as with city year, where college grads tutor and mentor american kids who are at risk of dropping out of school. Currently the largest consumer of fair trade coffee, it plans to bump up its sourcing of responsibly grown, ethically traded coffee from 75 percent to 100 percent by 2015. It also plans to make 100 percent of its cups reusable or recyclable, as well as build all of its new stores according to LEED standards. Existing stores are getting an eco-makeover with low-flow water fixtures, energy-efficient lighting and 50 percent of their energy coming from renewable sources like wind.
Johnson & Johnson
Investing in wind farms and hybrid vehicles
A founding EPA green power partner, Johnson & Johnson has stepped up as a leader in addressing climate change challenges. It has reduced its dependence on fossil fuel energy by 34 percent, investing in alternative energy sources like wind and solar—and it has the largest fleet of hybrid vehicles in the world. Its philanthropic efforts have benefited women and children worldwide, from raising awareness about diabetes in Mexico to aiding HIV-infected pregnant women in Africa. At home, J&J sponsors programs focused on health literacy for parents of Head Start kids and national accident prevention programs with Safe Hids Worldwide. It also connects employee mentors with high school students interested in the health-care field. The company has lobbied for global warming legislation and in 2006 announced its Healthy Planet 2010 goals, which would reduce CO2 emissions, water use and waste at all of its facilities (by 2008, it had reduced its hazardous waste by 16 percent). As a member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, it has looked at ways to reduce packaging waste, which uses up resources like petroleum and trees, by opting for recyclable, sustainable materials. J&J’s Band-Aid brand boxes now use paperboard certified by the Forest stewardship council, an independent organization that ensures forests are managed sustainably. Its Aveeno line now partners with TerraCycle to host national recycling drives. The goal: Find ways to reuse empty Aveeno product tubes.
Photo: Stephanie Rausser