50 Ways to Green Your Business

Half-a-hundred options for cleaning up your business, from the universal (catch that rainwater!) to the specific (lose the plastic bowls!). Mix, match–join in.

41 From the department of small moves: This holiday season, Gap Inc. debuts gift cards made from recycled plastic. And next spring, its Gap and Banana Republic brands will convert their price tags to 100% post-consumer recycled material. It’s not exactly retooling an entire soccer-mom wardrobe into sustainable organic cotton, but it does add up: Gap price tags alone account for 10 tons of paper.


42 Looking to create a computer-industry equivalent of LEED certification, the EPA in 2006 created EPEAT, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, which rates the “greenness” of computers for large-scale buyers based on 51 criteria such as energy use and amount and types of plastics. Since it began, the program has rated more than 600 computers from 23 companies, which voluntarily submit their products for review. Early adopters include Apple, Dell, HP, and Lenovo.

43 Last year, U.S. sales of organic food increased 22% to $17 billion, but still accounted for only 3% of all food and beverage sales. To better understand this burgeoning market and the challenges faced by organic farmers, Wegmans supermarkets this year started a 50-acre organic research farm just outside of Rochester, New York. Starting small with just potatoes and tomatoes, the company hopes to develop best practices (read: cost-efficient as well as healthy) for organic farming in the Northeast. Once it gets it figured out, Wegmans hopes to share its findings with the 800 farmers who supply its stores.

44 Wal-Mart is the champ when it comes to twisting suppliers’ arms to boost their sustainability efforts (and efficiency). Increasingly, other companies are doing the same–most recently Marriott, which announced it will be scrutinizing everything from its duvets to its shampoos. In true Wal-Mart fashion, suppliers that don’t make the grade may end up out on the street.

45 Federal laws on greenhouse-gas emissions are inevitable, so let’s get on with it already! That’s the logic behind the United States Climate Action Partnership, a big-biz coalition pushing for federal standards. Notably, USCAP includes companies with mixed eco-cred–BP, Rio Tinto, GM –as well as green stalwarts such as Environmental Defense and the Nature Conservancy. Its goals include a mandatory 60% to 80% cut in emissions by 2050 and a uniform nationwide market free of the current patchwork of state regulations. Oh, and fiscal incentives for new technology–a big opportunity for firms like GE, whose CEO Jeff Immelt led the effort to launch USCAP.

46 Another kind of network is sprouting in an old lamp factory in Chicago as Baum Development unveils the Green Exchange, a 250,000-square-foot retail and office space reserved exclusively for green companies. Billed as the country’s first “green business community,” the development’s concept is that proximity will foster the exchange of ideas. Set to open in Fall 2008, the building is already 40% leased, with tenants including an electric-car dealer, energy consultants, and even a green pet-supply store.

47 Before Rick Rubin agreed to run Columbia Records, he made some unorthodox demands: He wouldn’t wear a suit, travel, or have a corporate office. He also got Columbia to agree to eliminate plastic jewel cases from CD packaging. Pushing a green agenda during contract negotiations is rare–but maybe not for long. Both Jack Johnson and Pearl Jam have green requirements in their venue riders. How long until an enlightened CEO candidate makes eco-initiatives more important than access to a corporate jet?


48 In 2003, the tiny Presidio School of Management in San Francisco launched an MBA program in sustainable management. So far, only 56 students have walked away with green diplomas, but with 200 clocking in this fall, Presidio is heating up–and preparing for the onslaught of recruiters.

49 On the subject of hiring: Companies everywhere are suddenly clamoring to snag a vice president of sustainability. Or a director of environmental affairs. Someone whose job is to understand the environmental impact of the company and look for ways to turn it inside out. (Why aren’t you using your empty roof to generate solar power, anyway?) Ten years ago, the job essentially didn’t exist. But in the last two years, it has become common across a startling variety of industries. Starbucks has one. Ford too. Also Airbus, Albertson’s, Alcoa, Alaska Airlines, and Anheuser-Busch. Dow Chemical and DuPont have even given the position C-level heft–chief sustainability officer.

50 Hire This Guy

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