Fast Company

Sustainability: When It Comes to Going Green, Bigger is Better

When it comes to the environment, we are constantly told that every little bit counts. But it's often hard to see what impact an individual recycling an empty soda can or turning down the thermostat a few degrees in winter really has in the long run. When large corporations set their sights on going green, on the other hand, the difference is a lot more tangible.

If News Corporation succeeds in becoming carbon neutral by 2010, it will be the equivalent of taking 130,000 cars off the road, according to Greenpeace's research director. Who cares if Rupert Murdoch is saving money (or even making money off his new green image) - this is one instance where capitalism and environmentalism can happily coexist. As long as the changes are real and not a massive publicity stunt, I can only applaud News Corp. on this one. Let's hope other media companies are guilted into following Murdoch's lead.

A few months ago, the environmental organization Climate Counts issued a scorecard rating the "greenness" of the nation's largest companies across a variety of industries. Though News Corp. is not even in the top five, it did receive a high score (57 out of 100 - enough to get the Climate Counts green stamp of approval) for initiatives like measuring its environmental impact, outlining a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and making information on its environmental goals available to the publics.

Interestingly, Climate Counts gave the highest score (77 out of 100) to Canon, a company that hasn't been generating much media buzz in the environmental arena. Other top scorers, with rankings of 70 or above, include Nike, Unilever and IBM.

At the other end of the spectrum, several companies earned zero points, mostly due to a lack of available information. These include Jones Apparel Group, Burger King, Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster), Wendy's, CBS, and Amazon.com. Climate Counts urges consumers to take their business elsewhere until these companies clean up their act. (A handy pocket-size version of the scorecard can help environmentally conscious consumers make purchasing decisions on the go.)

Does a company's level of green commitment affect your decisions as a consumer? What more can companies do to convince you their environmental PR isn't just green-wash?

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