There are many aspects to green living that go beyond your personal efforts. Working with, buying from, and investing in green companies can help you further your journey in sustainable living. Although many companies are compliant with laws and requirements that protect the environment and their workers, there are also many that go beyond those requirements to operate in responsible ways.
There are products from cleaning agents to cars produced by companies that have made a commitment to not only create their products responsibly but so that they will also do as little damage as possible to the environment when they are used.
For instance, transportation businesses such as Continental Airlines and Honda are leaders in their industries when it comes to providing transportation options with fewer carbon monoxide emissions. Honda has made a commitment to focus on alternative fuel technologies, particularly natural gas and the hydrogen fuel cell that power the Civic GX and FCX respectively.
Similarly, Continental Airlines has invested in more fuel-efficient aircraft as well as significantly reduced its nitrogen oxide output in the ground equipment at the Houston hub. Continental has its own full time staff of environmentalists that keeps the company on track with its sustainability efforts at various parts of the operation including engine manufacturing, terminals and chemical recycling. Considering these factors before you buy a car or travel by air will help you in your own efforts to live green.
Other green companies feature products that are more common to more households. For instance, S.C. Johnson has long been privy to sustainability before it became all the rage in the corporate world. In recent years, it has stepped up its efforts to lead the industry in green products with its Greenlist project that determines the environmental and human health impact of the raw materials in its products. This effort has eliminated millions of pounds of polyvinylidene chloride and volatile organic compounds.
Of course, there are many other eco-friendly companies in many other industries doing their part to contribute to sustainable living. Businesses such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM lead the technology industry in efforts to make their companies greener. Retailers like Staples contribute to sustainability efforts with recycling programs for electronics.
While you can check with such national companies to determine how green they are, you can also look to your local companies to find green friendly alternatives as well. This can be as simple as asking your local coffee shop if they use organic (and/or Fairtrade) coffee or eco-friendly, compostable dishware – cups, spoons etc. Or it can be as complex as researching local builders to find one who specialises in sustainable building practices.
People will argue over what constitutes an acceptable standard for an organisation to achieve before it can be called green, or said to be going green at least – do you support the café that uses compostable spoons but doesn’t use Fairtrade coffee? Do you buy the organic produce that is packaged in styrofoam? Often it will depend what the alternatives are, of course. But it’s also worth remembering that we can’t all do everything (yet), but that doesn’t negate the value of doing what we can, now. Still, living sustainably is more than just composting our leftovers and investing in solar power. It’s also about putting our money where our mouths are, whether that means buying organic produce or investing in green companies.