Consumers want to buy from companies with eco-friendly business practices, and more companies are joining the green revolution. MIT's 2011 study showed 70 percent of corporate agendas include sustainability. Companies that make a commitment to going green benefit financially and provide benefits to their customers, communities, and the economies that support them.
Four companies you probably didn’t know have green business practices include new and established businesses and brands.
You may not think of an online search engine company as going green, but that’s just what Google has been doing since 2007. The company has been taking active steps to reduce its carbon footprint by 32 percent in one year, according to TodayEco.com. From 2012 to 2013, it has created a huge reduction of carbon emissions.
Google users and investors share a commitment to the environment in the following ways:
Overnight Prints is a green company that sells printed postcards online, as well as other items like business cards, brochures, and letterheads. They use cardstock made from environmentally sustainable forests, processed without harmful bleach and chlorine, as well as recycled paper made from 100 percent post-consumer chlorine-free recycled fiber. Overnight Prints uses an exclusively waterless print process that saves water and trees and reduces air pollution and waste.
Their waterless print process does more than save water. It also:
Overnight Prints customers help the environment by purchasing printed materials from a company that is environmentally responsible and uses eco-friendly printing processes. You can let your own customers know that their printed materials are available on eco-friendly papers produced on paper made from sustainable sources processed without bleach and chlorine, and printed with a waterless print process.
Bank of America
According to the Environmental Sustainability sub-page on its website, Bank of America is going green by reducing the weight of its ATM receipts, saving paper and reducing the paper processing pollution and waste. The banking giant is also saving on transportation expense and pollution, reducing storing and handling expenses, and reducing their paper usage by making reports available online instead of printing hard copies. In turn, BofA is saving money.
This means less ATM receipts burried at the bottoms of purses, stuck under car floor mats, and fluttering around the bank parking lots. Bank of America customers can be proud that their paper waste now has less of an impact on our environment than it used to. Bank of America’s paper reduction web page details how they are reducing the weight of ATM receipts and the consequences for customers and the environment.
Coca-Cola saved tens of millions of dollars by cutting down on packaging. They have a long-term global vision of zero waste and are working toward it by designing efficient packaging, eliminating landfill waste, and using recycled and renewable materials.
Coca-Cola’s 2011/2012 Sustainability Report, found on Coca-colacompany.com, details the company’s commitment to environmental responsibility, including:
The next time you are enjoying a cold Coca-Cola, or a Coke product, you can drink it knowing it has less of a role in landfill waste and pollution because the company has an active vision to manage its environmental impact.
With the focus on global warming and air pollution, it is easy to lose sight of the importance of indoor air quality. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that on average, Americans spend as much as 5.2 hours a day just relaxing at home. That is not even counting the 2.6 hours they spend doing chores or the roughly 23 percent of people who bring work home with them from the office.
During this time, you breathe in microorganisms, gases such as carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds. Instead of adding to the already escalating environmental issues, consider green ways you can improve the air quality of your home.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Horticulturist Deborah Brown from the University of Minnesota suggests that adding houseplants to your decor is a natural ways to absorb airborne chemicals. Plants are living air purifiers. They breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out clean oxygen. The foliage and roots also absorb chemical toxins introduced into the room by synthetic material to act as a natural scrubber. Healthy plants to keep around include:
The Mother Nature Network offers a complete list of houseplants proven to improve air quality.
Controlling the Source
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that source control is the most effective means of keeping the air clean. For example, lower the gas input on stoves to reduce emissions. Many of the pollutants come into your home from the outside, so proper weatherizing is essential, as well.
Take a survey of your home looking for leaks. Check around windows and doors for loose stripping, and examine the wall joints, especially in basements and attics. Walk around and see where you feel a draft — this signifies an area that is allowing outdoor air into the house. To plug up problems, replace missing insulation, seal openings in wall joints and reapply weather-stripping.
Most local utility companies will come out and do an inspection looking to help you lower energy costs. This is a free, or low-cost, approach to finding breaks in the envelope around the home in order to control air quality, too.
Commercial cleaning products add to the problem by introducing chemicals into the home environment. Switching to only natural cleaners reduces those air pollutants. You can buy cleaners that are environmentally friendly or save some money and make your own.
Mix white vinegar with equal parts water for an effective all-purpose cleaner that works on just about any surface including:
Adding a few drops of lemon juice will enhance the cleaning power while improving the smell. You can use full strength vinegar to clean the toilet, but if you use it in showers and baths be sure to dilute it to protect your grout.
If you need something with scrubbing ability, try mixing lemon juice with baking soda instead. The Daily Green provides even more recipes for home cleaning solutions.
Monitor Air Quality
Automation is the key. You can integrate sensors to check for carbon monoxide and radon gas with your home security system. Compare home security companies to find one that offers full automation to detect air problems you can’t see. The environmental impact of such a system is minimal, and it’s worth the cost to keep your family safe.