Sourcing Green, U.S. Companies at the Top of Their Green Game

buildDedicated green living individuals are confronted by one difficult truth; the items they have to buy to live may or may not come from “green” sources. As a result, their carbon footprint is large in spite of their best efforts.

“Not so,” you argue. “There are a lot of things we only think we need.”

And, while this solopsism might be true, it also seems appropriate to note that the Prophet Kahlil Gibran once wrote: “Only the angels know the difference between want and necessity.”

We poor humans have to walk that fine line with very little guidance when it comes to buying green. To help you make those day-to-day buying decisions, here are some of America’s biggest companies doing some green things:

  1. McGraw Hill, whose estimated 2011 paper purchases were from suppliers who operated under the green umbrella of forest harvesting certification. It publishes books, often college textbooks, so if you have a son or daughter going off to college this coming fall, check out their offerings and contact the intended college regarding their syllabus and mandatory texts.
  2. Hartfort Financial Services Group, which has electric vehicle charging stations at all of its Connecticut facilities, offers flex time to employees, allowing them to work from home and cut out all the pollution from commuting. If you can ‘t be an employee, don’t forget the company also offers property and casualty insurance, well as group benefit health insurance and mutual funds.
  3. Microsoft, and that pretty much says it all.
  4. Nividia, which completes the above conversation by offering GPUs, the world’s most energy-efficient computer processors, and simultaneously diverts 85 percent of its electronic waste from landfills to recycling and composting facilities. That’s double green!
  5. (I was going to slot Dell in here for their record of reusing or recycling 98 percent of non-toxic waste, and the ultra-green bamboo packaging, but they recently went private so they may have to build their green profile all over again.)
  6. ENC, which went “cloud” beginning in 2004, and now operates almost entirely from that distributed electronic architecture in a virtual computing world. It also operates a wastewater recycling facility in the real world, whose output is reused in cooling, sanitation and irrigation.
  7. Food shoppers have the hardest time of all. Few food outlets say much about their carbon footprint, largely because everything is source from other parties, all of whom – from meat to pineapples from Brazil – have a large carbon footprint. The Whole Foods Market unravels that confusion. After all, their whole business model is based on sustainability. Of course, they’re somewhat more expensive than Cub and Rainbow, for example, but isn’t your family worth the extra cost of organic fruit and free range meat?
  8. Staples, an office supply company, in 2011 facilitated the recycling of 67 million printer and toner cartridges. Heavily vested in solar energy across its supply chain, Staples is all about the office. Think of yours at work and at home, and your wife’s (or significant other’s) offices, and the one off to college who will probably think he or she needs one each of the entire range of office products!
  9. Sprint Nextel, the byword for mobile connectivity, initiated the collection and reuse of defunct cell phones. By 2017 it hopes to rescue 9 out of 10 of these dead cellies and cannibalize them for parts. If you need a new cell phone …..
  10. Office Depot, another office supply company, runs a “Green Fleet” of electric vehicles to deliver its products in London. But you don’t have to take a trip “across the pond”. The Depot has hundreds of local locations, and likely has that all-important item that Staples doesn’t. Good times!
  11. Hewlett Packard, my all-time personal favorite for making printers, copiers, scanners and fax machines that are affordable! More, it gives two thumbs down to paper companies who work with companies engaged in illegal logging and questionable tree-harvesting processes.
  12. Serious shoppers probably already know about Kohl’s. For the rest, welcome to a department store that offers serious quality at affordable prices. How do they do it? I’m willing to bet it has a lot to do with the 1.417 billion kilowatt hours (1417 million megawatt hours) of cheap, renewable energy.
  13. If Kohl’s really is out of your price bracket, turn to Wal-Mart. Yes, all the bickering aside about unionized labor, the world’s biggest retailer has a green profile. Maybe not the best in the world, but it’s hard to be big and beautiful at the same time. Wal-Mart gets close by buying power from solar panels.
  14. For the wage slaves among us, it will be pleasant news that Starbucks, our favorite coffee shop, is ranked No. 4 on Forbes green list. Who says you can’t have your coffee and savor it too? Starbucks also gets more than half its power from wind energy – and no, it’s not coming from people blowing on their latte to get it cool!
  15. The big winner among pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter (OTC) health, personal care and beauty products is Johnson & Johnson. If you haven’t used one of their products in the last few months, you must be living in a cave!

Next week, we will take a look at some of the least-green companies in America, so you know what to steer clear of.

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