Now that you are familiar with the concept of sustainable business and how it impacts every aspect of the business, we are delighted to turn to real case examples of sustainable business practices. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of businesses moving toward sustainability. While the examples are too numerous to list here, we have selected a small sample of for-profit entities that are striving to maximize social, environmental, and economic impacts. Although space prohibits us from providing an in-depth look at each company, we have briefly highlighted some of the unique contributions each is making toward sustainability.
These case examples showcase the wide array of approaches being used by businesses of varying sizes in various industries. Some of these companies are making gains in one of the dimensions of sustainability (social, environmental, economic); others have a fully developed three-dimensional approach to sustainability. But what each of these case examples has in common is that they demonstrate it is possible to successfully pursue sustainability and a triple bottom line. You need look no further than the following companies for proof of those who exemplify our own motto: “Make a Profit, Make an Impact, Make a Difference. Because Sustainable Business is Good Business.”©
Alaffia Sustainable Skin Care (Olympia, Washington) is the North American retail and wholesale distributor of Fair Trade shea butter, African black soap, and tropical oils from the Alaffia/Agbanga Karite Cooperative in Togo, Africa.
The company follows a triple bottom line approach (people, profit, and planet). Alaffia’s relationship with the Cooperative brings income to and empowers communities in Togo. Additionally, Alaffia and Agbanga Karite donate 10% of sales proceeds (or 30% of income, whichever is greater) to community empowerment projects, AIDS and malaria outreach, and educational scholarships in Togo.
Alaffia sponsors Bicycles for Education, donates school supplies and uniforms, funds reforestation projects, and started the Alaffia Women’s Clinic in Togo. Alaffia also provides scholarships to Washington state students, donates soap and lotion to women’s shelters, offers Fair Trade talks, tours of the Washington facility, and community outreach and education on Fair Trade. With the help of others, the nonprofit Global Alliance for Community Empowerment (GACE) was formed to oversee community projects that focus on self-empowerment, the advancement of fair trade, education, sustainable living, and gender equality in Togo.
Through work individually and with GACE, Agbanga Karite Cooperative has provided more than 300 children with books, uniforms, and supplies for the 2004–2005 school year; paid the school enrollment fees for these children; donated desks and chairs to a local primary school in the village of Adjorogo; and donated and installed new school roofs on rural schools in central Togo.
baabaaZuZu (Lake Leelanau, Michigan) makes clothing from items that would otherwise be discarded. All clothing is made from 100% recycled materials, primarily wool and tweed. Most of the supply comes from secondhand shops. Each product is unique, but they all have a common pocket and hand-sewn blanket stitch. The product line consists of jackets, vests, hats, scarves, mittens, purses and bags, pins, and Christmas stockings.
Better World Club (Portland, Oregon) is a nationwide auto and travel club. An alternative to other auto and travel clubs, the Better World Club provides emergency roadside assistance, travel planning services (auto, flight, and hotel), maps, trip routing services, partnership discounts, and auto insurance.
In addition to the standard fare for auto and travel clubs, the Better World Club also offers bicycle roadside assistance, discounts on hybrid or biodiesel auto rentals, discounts at eco-lodging facilities, discounts on eco-tours, membership discounts for hybrid vehicle owners, an online carbon emissions calculator, carbon offsets for your auto or travel plans, and a donation of 1% of revenue to environmental cleanup efforts and advocacy.
BetterWorld Telecom (Reston, Virginia) is a telecommunications company providing voice and data solutions for businesses and organizations with social and sustainable missions. The company donates 3% of revenues (administered by the BetterWorld Charitable Foundation) to nonprofit organizations through grants that help children, education, fair trade, and the environment. The company’s goal is to donate $1 million per year by 2012.
BetterWorld Telecom is striving for a paperless operation. When paper usage is necessary, it is 100% recycled or tree-free kenaf paper. The company is also carbon-neutral.
Boulevard Bread Company (Little Rock, Arkansas) is a multisite restaurant committed to being a low-impact and environmentally friendly business. The company buys organic produce from local sources when possible. The company uses biodegradable and compostable disposable utensils and cups made from corn or potato by-products. Carry-out containers that are not compostable are recyclable. Boulevard Bread sells only 100% Fair Trade and organic coffee, uses earth-friendly cleaners, uses recycled paper products, and recycles glass, cardboard, aluminum, and plastics. The company is pursuing zero waste. All locations have been retrofitted with energy-efficient lighting, and the main site has installed a tankless water heater.
Boulevard Bread Company recently joined forces with other local restaurants to create the Green Restaurant Alliance to network and support area restaurants pursuing environmentally friendly operations. In addition, Boulevard Bread supports the community through charitable donations, collaboration, local sustainable agriculture, and through training and mentoring other green food businesses.
Boutique Mix (Washington, DC) is a fashion boutique offering “An International Ethnik Chik Kollection” of unique items from around the world. Boutique Mix sources natural organic handmade items following Fair Trade principles and nonhandmade items that are organic and use low-impact dyes and processes. Boutique Mix also offers its own line of Miatta-MiMi jewelry and gift baskets using beads and other accessories collected around the world.
An incredible 25% of all profits go toward charitable causes. Thirty-five percent of the charitable proceeds go toward rebuilding Sierra Leone by providing school supplies and other necessities to needy children, another 35% goes toward sponsoring children around the world through Plan USA, Children International, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and the Christian Children’s Fund. The remaining 30% of charitable proceeds go toward Kiva loans for entrepreneurs in developing countries and to the Rebuilding Sierra Leone One Child at a Time campaign.
Brilliant Earth (San Francisco, California) specializes in conflict-free diamond jewelry. The conflict-free diamonds are from Canadian mines that follow the country’s environmental laws, the most rigorous in the world. Sapphires used in Brilliant Earth jewelry are sourced from Australia or Malawi following Fair Trade principles. When possible, gold and platinum are reclaimed through recycled jewelry and industrial waste. Brilliant Earth dedicates 5% of profits to the nonprofit organizations Green Diamonds and MedShare International to support African communities negatively affected by the diamond trade industry.
Burgerville (Vancouver, Washington) is a chain of 39 Pacific Northwest quick-service restaurants offering seasonal organic, local, and healthy food. In addition, they use hormone-free milk, and kid’s meals come with safe and educational toys, such as biodegradable garden pots and vegetable seed packets. Burgerville purchases 100% of their energy usage with wind power credits, they recycle used canola oil into biodiesel, and they offer affordable health care to employees. They are working toward all 39 restaurants becoming fully recycling and composting.
Caracalla (Little Rock, Arkansas) is a salon and day spa with an aggressive recycling program that extends beyond the typical recycling of waste. Some of the unique ways in which Caracalla supports the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra are to buy reclaimed items for retail sale (such as mittens and hats made from old discarded sweaters), they sell vintage items, they recycle cut hair by sending it to Matter of Trust to be woven into hair mats capable of absorbing chemical oil spills, and they recycle worn pantyhose and stockings with Matter of Trust for the same purpose. In addition, the company purchases and sells recycled items, such as paper, bags, office supplies, toilet tissue, hand towels, pet toys, and even biodegradable bags for picking up dog waste. The salon is decorated with reclaimed and vintage items and uses or sells eco-friendly products, such as homemade herbal wraps (no packaging waste!), bamboo hairbrushes, hemp bags, natural hair and body products, soy candles in recycled glass jars, efficient lighting, and reusable coffee mugs.
Caracalla supports the local economy by purchasing from local and organic suppliers, particularly other sustainable or green businesses, and buys in bulk to reduce packaging waste.
The company also supports the local community through charitable donations and by offering free haircuts to customers who are donating hair to charity.
Clean Air Lawn Care (Fort Collins, Colorado) uses solar-powered lawn mowers for yard care. Trucks are equipped with solar panels to recharge the mowers throughout the day. When it is not possible to use solar-powered mowers, the company uses conventional mowers fueled with biodiesel. Clean Air Lawn Care will also remove yard waste to an organic waste recycling center, where available. The company purchases carbon offsets for the business and is carbon neutral. On the company Web site, you will find an online calculator to determine the carbon emissions of your current mowing methods. You will also find a scholarship application for environmentally minded students preparing to enroll in college for the first time.
At Clean Green Collision (Oakland, California) precautions are taken during auto repair to ensure that dust, remnants, and hazardous chemicals do not enter the car and leave odors and fumes that could potentially harm customers. Filtration is an important part of Clean Green Collision’s eco-friendly approach: paint fumes and other emissions are filtered, air in the sanding area is filtered twice, and there is a filtration system to capture emissions from welding. Other eco-friendly efforts include photosynthesis curing, use of water-based paints, remodeling with recycled and reclaimed windows and doors, and use of local suppliers. The shop claims it currently creates only 30%–40% of the emissions of a typical body shop, and the company’s goal is to operate a 100% emission-free auto body business.
Creative Paper Wales (Wales, United Kingdom) makes only recycled paper products. All manufacturing processes are environmentally friendly and minimize waste. The company supports Fair Trade. Creative Paper Wales is home to the ever popular Sheep Poo Paper and Reindeer Poo Paper, made from sheep and reindeer dung, respectively. The company offers to make paper from anything you desire, except live trees.
CREDO Mobile (San Francisco, California) was created in 1985 to help make the world a better place. Every time customers use their wireless, credit card, or long-distance services, the company donates a portion of the charges to progressive nonprofit organizations working for peace, human rights, economic justice, education, and the environment. The company offsets its carbon emissions, and innovative mobile activism allows subscribers to stay on top of fast-moving and progressive issues and take action right from their phones.
Earth Class Mail (Seattle, Washington) offers online post office boxes and mail services. Customers view scanned images of mail received and, for each piece, they make a decision to open and scan the contents, recycle, archive, or forward the mail to them via surface mail. The company’s Web site states that the average person recycles 20% of their mail, whereas Earth Class Mail customers recycle more than 90% of their mail.
Earth Tones (Denver, Colorado) bills itself as “The Environmental Internet & Phone Company.” The company offers Internet access and long-distance and wireless phone services. Earth Tones is a for-profit company created in 1993 by a coalition of nonprofit environmental organizations. The company donates 100% of profits to environmental organizations, including Environment America, National Environmental Law Center, the Green Life, Campaign to Save the Environment, Toxics Action Center, ecopledge.com, Free the Planet!, and Recycling Action Campaign. Earth Tones offers online billing or (recycled) paper billing and phone recycling for customers. In addition, the Web site has resources available to everyone, including Green Alerts and a marketplace.
ECO Car Wash (Portland, Oregon) is a multilocation car wash that recycles 100% of the water used in washing. The car wash’s computer-controlled water management system uses 25 to 40 gallons of freshwater per vehicle wash, far less than hand washing at home. Additionally, ECO Car Wash uses water-soluble, bio-based, and biodegradable cleaning products. Furthermore, the company uses wind energy in all facilities. To support the community, ECO Car Wash makes contributions to several charitable organizations, including Providence Hospital, Shriners Hospital, the Grotto, and Children’s Charity Ball.
Eco-Libris (Newark, Deleware) is a carbon offset program. Book lovers and reading aficionados everywhere can buy an “offset” for every book they read. At Eco-Libris, the idea is simple: People can plant 1.3 trees for every book they read. Eco-Libris’ planting partners plant trees in Nicaragua, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama (all in Central America) and Malawi (Africa).
EDUN (Dublin, Ireland) is a socially conscious clothing company launched to create sustainable employment in developing countries. EDUN has established the Conservation Cotton Initiative (CCI) to improve the livelihoods of communities in Africa by promoting cotton grown organically or through methods that are part of a transition from conventional to organic production. CCI also works to incorporate sustainable conservation agricultural practices and the protection of wildlife. In addition to the EDUN retail collection of items made with organic cotton, edun LIVEhttp://www.edun-live.com is a business-to-business solution for anyone who wants ethically produced blank T-shirts. Edun LIVE seeks to provide sustainable employment in Sub-Saharan Africa through high-volume sales of blank T-shirts. As part of edun LIVE, the company has created edun LIVE on campus,http://www.edunliveoncampus.com a partnership with Miami University of Ohio, to sell blank T-shirts to campus organizations with the goal to eventually expand to additional campuses. EDUN and edun LIVE products are currently produced in India, Peru, Tunisia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, and Madagascar. The company works with Verite for third-party monitoring and reporting of socially responsible business practices.
Fair Trade Sports (Bainbridge Island, Washington) is a sports ball and equipment distributor and manufacturer. The company ensures all its hand-stitched balls are made by adults who are paid fair wages and who are provided healthy working environments. Additionally, since the sports ball business can be seasonal, the company offers microcredit loans to workers. The inner air bladders of the balls are made with FSC-certified latex from rubber plantations and then sent to Pakistan for assembly into sports balls. In the first ever Fair Trade deal with a plantation, Fair Trade Sports sources rubber from the Frocester Plantation in Sri Lanka and from the New Ambadi Rubber Estate. Following the deal with Fair Trade Sports, the Frocester Plantation then created the Fair Trade Welfare Society for the plantation’s rubber tappers and employees. Early funds generated from the Society led to the installation of a pump and piping system for nearby plantation households to access well water and to the restoration of a restroom facility on the plantation. All after-tax profits of Fair Trade Sports are donated to children’s charities to help at-risk children around the world.
FIO360 (Atlanta, Georgia) is the nation’s first eco-early care and learning boutique. The building is the first child care center to be LEED-certified and has floors that emit radiant heat and are made from virgin rubber plants, paint that is zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds), and solar tubes for lighting. The center uses organic furnishings, such as imported organic rugs, organic wooden toys, no PVC plastic products, and organic mattresses free of formaldehyde and other chemicals. Children are served organic and hormone-free meals using local fresh ingredients created by the center’s chef. The center also uses nontoxic personal care products on children and environmentally friendly cleaning products throughout the building. The curriculum is holistic, promotes multicultural awareness and learning, and, of course, environmental education.
Free Range Studios (Washington, DC) is a full-service creative agency delivering progressive socially minded messages for clients. You may be familiar with some of Free Range Studios’s flash movies (e.g., Sam Suds, The Meatrix, Friends With Low Wages, Grocery Store Wars, Say No to Blood Diamonds), written reports (prepared for Amnesty International, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and the ACLU), or the company’s work with socially conscious individuals, nonprofits, and businesses. In addition to Free Range Studio’s socially conscious creative work, the company also seeks to reduce its environmental impact and give back to communities through the use of triple bottom line accounting, 100% wind power, eco-printing, and other initiatives.
Frog’s Leap Winery (Rutherford, California) is committed to sustainable farming and traditional farming techniques, including dry farming, which requires tilling every 10 days to hold moisture and which eliminates the need for irrigation. All wines are made from organically grown grapes. The winery has been 100% solar-powered since 2005, and the Hospitality Center and administrative offices are in a LEED-certified building.
Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa (American Canyon, California) is the world’s first Gold LEED–certified hotel. To achieve this, all wood used in the construction was FSC-certified, paints are low VOC, and carpets contain postconsumer recycled material. In addition, restroom construction used recycled tiles and granite, and low flush toilets and showerheads were installed. The hotel’s koi pond uses filtered recycled water, and the facility installed Solatube lighting, solar panels, and a reflective roof coating. The hotel is furnished with natural, organic, and recycled materials, has all-natural and organic landscaping, and uses green cleaning products. To reduce waste, bulk soap, lotion, and shampoo dispensers are used in guest rooms and only recycled paper is used. There are recycling bins throughout the property, and educational kiosks inform guests of the environmental attributes of the property.
Galactic Pizza (Minneapolis, Minnesota) makes excellent pizza from local and organic ingredients. The company emphasizes environmental and social responsibility in its operations. The company engages in many sustainability initiatives. For example, when possible, electric vehicles are used for deliveries, the restaurant uses 100% renewable wind energy, organic items are on the menu, purchase of the Second Harvest Heartland pizza generates a $1 donation to this hunger relief organization, packaging is either made from recycled materials or is biodegradable, hemp products are on the menu, the menus are printed on hemp paper, produce comes from farms in Minnesota or Wisconsin when possible, the company recycles and composts, and 5% of pretax profits are donated to charity.
The Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Company Ltd. (Toronto, Ontario) recycles the waste of African and Asian elephants from elephant conservation parks and turns it into over 150 unique (and odorless) paper products. The paper products are handcrafted by artisans. A portion of profits is donated to elephant welfare and conservation programs.
Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland, Ohio) is a microbrewery focused on the triple bottom line. The company recycles waste, uses recycled products, and has invested in energy efficiency. To pursue sustainability even further, Great Lakes Brewing Company has incorporated zero-waste initiatives into its day-to-day operations. The ultimate goal is to mimic nature, where 100% of resources are used in closed-loop ecosystems. This is accomplished in several ways. Certain bread and pretzels found on the menu are made using grains from the brewing process. Brewery grains are also used as a substrate for growing organic shitake and oyster mushrooms. And the company also composts waste to create fertilizer to grow herbs and vegetables for menu items. In addition, the beer delivery truck, the Fatty Wagon, runs on 100% pure vegetable oil.
The Green Microgym (Portland, Oregon) is one of the few fitness facilities in the world operating partially on solar and human power. While the facility is fully equipped with all the standard equipment found in any gym, the equipment has been retrofitted to capture, store, and reuse energy produced from the use of elliptical trainers and stationary bikes. The company has a goal of net-zero energy usage. The “Burn & Earn” program pays members $1 for every hour spent generating (or saving) electricity. The Green Microgym uses recycled rubber, marmoleum, and eco-friendly cork flooring, ENERGY STAR ceiling fans, LCD televisions, compact fluorescent bulbs, energy-efficient treadmills, dual flush toilets, green cleaning supplies, and paper products made with recycled content.
Greenforce (San Francisco, California) offers residential and commercial cleaning services using environmentally friendly cleaning products and methods. The company uses natural nontoxic biodegradable supplies and HEPA microfiltered vacuums. Greenforce thoroughly researches cleaning products to find those that perform as well as conventional products, and all staff are trained in green cleaning methods. On its Web site, Greenforce lists the products used and recommended by the company. In addition to eco-friendly cleaning, Greenforce offsets emissions created from travel to its cleaning sites (carbon neutral cleaning).
Greyston Bakery (Yonkers, New York) is an example of social entrepreneurship at its finest. The for-profit bakery was started to provide employment opportunities and economic renewal for this inner-city community. All profits from Greyston Bakery go to support the Greyston Foundation, which offers affordable child care for the community, affordable housing for homeless and low-income families, and affordable health care for persons with HIV. The bakery’s facility was selected as a Top Ten Green Project in 2004 for its use of natural light, rooftop gardens, efficient machinery, and the use of outdoor air to cool baked goods. The bakery produces many traditional baked goods but is well known as the exclusive supplier of brownies for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream products.
Habana Outpost (Brooklyn, New York) is a one-of-a-kind restaurant experience that begins with the outdoor food truck, a restored U.S. postal service truck. Habana Outpost is solar-powered; has both indoor and outdoor seating; uses compostable biodegradable plates, cups, and utensils; has tables made from recycled materials; operates a rainwater collection system to water plants and flush toilets; runs a human-powered bicycle-propelled juice blender; and composts and recycles waste.
In addition to these restaurant features, Habana Outpost serves as a community gathering place offering weekly movie nights and a host of other activities. For example, the Kid’s Corner offers ecological activities and an “alternative heroes” coloring book (about real-life heroes!). The restaurant hosts a weekend market of local vendors and weekly fashion shows for local designers. The restaurant also hosts an annual Earth Day Expo of informative and interactive displays on sustainability and has a gallery display featuring local artists’ works.
Habana Outpost is one of three Habana restaurants in New York City. The company operates Habana Works, Inc., a nonprofit offering free sustainability-related workshops through various programs such as Habana Labs and Urban Studio Brooklyn. Habana Labs is dedicated to researching, developing, applying, and teaching the best technology related to ecology and sustainable energy. The most recent Habana Labs project is the Offgrid Outlet, a motorized, sun-following solar panel. Another program of Habana Works is the Urban Studio Brooklyn, an architectural design and build program that recently launched the Fishmobile, a human-powered mobile fishing clinic and wetlab.
Higher Grounds Trading Company (Traverse City, Michigan) sells organic and Fair Trade coffee. But the company’s commitment to sustainability goes beyond the products it sells. The company has a strong environmental emphasis in supporting sustainable agriculture, recycling, composting, and purchasing postconsumer recycled paper for office supplies.
The company has an even stronger social emphasis through its business operations. The Trade for a Change fund-raising program allows nonprofit organizations to sell Higher Grounds’s organic and Fair Trade blends and thus increases sales for the coffee farmers. Sales of Coffees for Change blends generate donations for organic agriculture, education about economic justice, protection of bird habitat and indigenous rights, and the construction of potable water systems. Sales of Water Carrier’s Blend generate a $5 donation through the Water for All campaign for the construction of sustainable water systems in coffee-growing countries.
Through the Oromia Photo Project, Oromia Coffee Farmers Grower Union farmers’ activities are documented. Each week, new photos are added to the Web site so that you can learn more about how the coffee is produced. For each pound of the Ethiopian Oromia coffee sold, Higher Grounds will add an additional $1 tip to go back to the farmers.
Higher Grounds’s Fair Trade Tours invites you to join them on a trip to partner farms and Fair Trade collaborators. You can choose from trips to Africa, Central America, or South America, and $100 per participant is donated to a local project.
Hopworks Urban Brewery (Portland, Oregon) is a brewpub offering organic beer and restaurant menu items made from local ingredients. Hopworks Urban Brewery refers to itself as an eco-brewpub and touts everything from composting to rain barrels to being powered by 100% renewable energy. The brew kettle uses biodiesel, the pizza oven heat is captured to heat the brewing water, the delivery truck uses biodiesel, and hot water from the wort heat exchanger is recovered for subsequent brew. There were many recycled and recovered materials used in the remodeling process, low and zero-VOC finishes were used, a rain barrel collection system was installed, and native landscaping is being used. The brewery also installed water and energy efficient equipment, designed for the use of natural lighting, and offers bicycle parking and a bike repair stand. The company’s waste recycling programs strive for zero waste and recycles food waste for animal feed and composting.
Hotlips Pizza (Portland, Oregon) is a family-owned four-restaurant business. Hotlips Pizza uses as many locally grown ingredients as possible, including wheat, vegetables, cheese, and meat. The company tracks food miles, uses LED lighting, delivers pizza by bicycle or electric car, captures the heat from pizza ovens to heat the water, composts waste, and is exploring alternative fuel use to heat the pizza ovens.
Immaculate Baking Company (Hendersonville, North Carolina) bakes delicious gourmet all-natural and organic baked cookies and organic ready-to-bake cookie dough. The company philosophy is “Bake well, be creative, have fun and give back.” Immaculate Baking Company works hard to maximize its social impact by baking “Cookies With a Cause.” The company created the Folk Artist’s Foundation to provide support and exposure for folk artists. Folk art also adorns all cookie packaging. In addition, the company created Soul Food Fund “artreach” programs to reach kids of all ages to help them creatively express themselves. As an aside, the company holds the distinction of baking the World’s Biggest Cookie in 2003—102 feet wide and over 40,000 pounds.
Indigenous Designs (Santa Rosa, California) sells organic Fair Trade fashions created by their own artisan network across South America. All items are handmade by artisans using traditional techniques, natural colors, natural dyes, and low-impact dyes. Indigenous Designs also partners with nongovernmental organizations and others to help provide training, educational materials, and equipment to the artisans.
In addition to organic Fair Trade fashions, Indigenous Designs purchases local green power to offset carbon emissions from its business activities, encourages employees to bike to work, and claims that about 20% of employees own and drive hybrid or biodiesel cars.
IceStone (Brooklyn, New York) manufactures surfaces made from recycled glass and concrete. By recycling glass and concrete, IceStone saves hundreds of tons of glass from landfills each year. The products are cradle to cradle certified and are manufactured in a day-lit factory. The factory has a cool, low-emissions manufacturing process. IceStone is working to become carbon-neutral, purchases renewable energy credits, and strives to reduce energy usage. The company is working toward water reduction goals, and over 80% of the company’s waste is recycled, recovered, or composted. IceStone is implementing a greywater recycling system. All petroleum-based machine lubricants have been replaced with soy-based lubricants. Additionally, IceStone conducts environmental education programs for employees.
IceStone’s mission also provides living wages, health benefits, education programs, and life skill training to employees, including free English as a Second Language classes, all of which are tracked in the social audit with third-party verification. IceStone’s donation program provides free or discounted material to projects that share similar social and environmental goals, with Habitat for Humanity receiving annual donations. The company also partners with community, nonprofit, academic, industrial assistance, and local social services groups to promote green-collar job creation, sustainable business practices, and the development of the green building industry.
Within the supply chain, IceStone encourages suppliers to improve sustainability standards. IceStone’s glass and mother-of-pearl are recycled from post-industrial and post-consumer sources. IceStone advocates for stronger glass recycling programs in New York in order to create an infrastructure that allows the commercial reuse of regional waste glass. The company buys cement regionally and advocates for the greening of the cement industry. IceStone continuously conducts product research to seek the most eco-friendly and local materials possible.
Izzy’s Ice Cream Café (St. Paul, Minnesota) makes homemade ice cream using local ingredients, when possible, such as local maple syrup and dairy and cream from local and family-owned farms. Since making and freezing ice cream is an energy-intensive process, the ice cream parlor runs entirely on solar power. The shop is organizing to put more solar panels on its roof in order to supply solar power to the neighborhood. The company also delivers ice cream in thermo-insulated bags instead of refrigerated trucks.
Keen Footwear (Portland, Oregon) began in 2003 with the Hybrid: part shoe, part sandal; a cross between an athletic shoe and a sandal. The company now has a line of shoes, Ventura, that are 100% vegan and created through environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. The Transport bag collection is made from recycled aluminum and rubber reclaimed from the shoe factory floors. Even the packaging is environmentally friendly with shoe boxes made of 100% recycled materials, soy-based inks, water-based glues, and biodegradable materials. The shoe boxes are smaller than standard shoe boxes, resulting in less materials, labor, and waste.
Keen Footwear uses third-party independent monitoring of its operations, is seeking Fair Labor Association accreditation, and is currently preparing its first Accountability Report, following the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines. The Keen Foundation supports environmental and social causes.
Little Rock Green Garage (Little Rock, Arkansas) is attempting to embrace environmental sustainability through all aspects of its operations and seeks to become one of the country’s first green auto repair facilities. The garage recycles waste, buys in bulk, uses refillable containers, and specializes in the repair of fuel-efficient vehicles.
LJ Urban (Sacramento, California) is a real estate development company that has set out to be a catalyst of social change. One of the company’s interesting projects involves building an eco-urban community, appropriately named The Good Project. The Good Project consists of LEED-certified homes with ENERGY STAR appliances, solar panels, air intake air-conditioning, tankless water heaters, dual flush toilets, low-flow plumbing fixtures, reflective roofing, recycled countertops and insulation, compact fluorescent lights and occupancy sensors, and more eco-friendly features. The Good Project I is complete, and the company is now creating the Good Project II, which will also feature a community garden in the design. One of the most unique parts of the Good Project I was the Do-Some-Good-Now Commitment. For every eco-urban home sold, LJ Urban trained a local mason in West Africa to build sustainable homes. LJ Urban’s Good Projects were inspired by the simplicity of TOMS Shoes’s model of giving away a pair of shoes to children in need for every pair that was purchased.
Llamadas Pedaleadas (Managua, Nicaragua), or Pedaled Phone Calls, is a bicycle-pedaled mobile cart with public telephones on board. Recycling parts found in a junkyard, the company created a battery that can be recharged by pedal power. Electricity is generated as the person is traveling to his destination. If the battery runs low at the destination, he can drop the kickstand and start cycling in place. The mobile cart can be moved to any location, such as a park or festival, to provide public telephone service for consumers. The company’s goal is to create a ready-made business for local entrepreneurs and to increase access to affordable telephony for base of the pyramid customers.
Massanelli’s Cleaners (Jonesboro, Arkansas) offers dry-cleaning and fire-water recovery and restoration services. Massanelli’s Cleaners utilizes a completely environmentally friendly nontoxic, odorless cleaning process that has been thoroughly tested by the Environmental Protection Agency and causes neither short nor long-term health risks. Cleaning agents are 100% biodegradable and earth-friendly, and the perchloroethylene-free (perc-free) cleaning process is gentle not only on your clothing and textiles but also on the environment.
In an effort to further reduce the carbon footprint of Massanelli’s Cleaners, the company has joined the CarbonFree Small Business Program. The company has been recognized for environmental stewardship and was an official sponsor of the Green Jobs Now fair held at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Massanelli’s Cleaners supports numerous charitable organizations and has a strong philanthropy program.
Natural Fusion Hair Studio (Frederick, Maryland) is an environmentally friendly hair salon. The salon seeks to reduce energy and water usage throughout its operations, recycles, uses nontoxic environmentally friendly cleaners, refills bottles, uses only natural and organic hair and beauty products, and purchases from beauty supply companies with sustainable practices. In addition, the salon gives back to the community and local charities. Located in a historic house, when they remodeled they preserved the original wood floors and added linoleum floors where new flooring was needed. The cutting stations are 1920s vanities, and the salon has utilized antiques whenever possible.
Golden Temple’s Peace Cereal (Eugene, Oregon) is a line of organic cereals devoted to personal health and a peaceful planet. Ten percent of the proceeds from Peace Cereal sponsor the annual International Peace Prayer Day gathering. The company gives awards to peace activists and grants to nonprofit organizations working for peace. In addition, Peace Cereal founded the Socially Responsible Business Awards.
Pinehurst Inn Bed & Breakfast (Bayfield, Wisconsin) is a historic inn, built in 1885. The Pinehurst Inn uses solar hot water heaters, green cleaning products, and organic linens and towels. Pinehurst Inn composts food and garden waste, recycles, avoids chemical treatments on lawn and gardens, serves locally grown organic food and organic coffees and teas, and has converted their vehicle (the Grease Car) to run on recycled grease. In 2003, the owners added the Garden House, a green building that is energy-efficient and that used sustainable materials in construction. The Pinehurst Inn also purchases carbon offsets for the business as well as offsets for 50% of customers’ travel to the inn.
Pizza Fusion (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) is a pizza chain with a wide variety of organic, vegan, gluten-free, and lactose-free menu items. Seventy-five percent of the menu is organic; the company only uses all-natural free-range chicken and organic beef, and it serves organic drinks.
Each month, Pizza Fusion hosts fun lessons on sustainability through “Organics 101” for kids. The company delivers pizzas in company-owned hybrid vehicles, uses compostable food containers, and offsets 100% of power consumption through renewable energy certificates. Each franchise restaurant is LEED certified. Pizza Fusion also encourages customers to return their pizza boxes for recycling, and the Web site offers tips for sustainable living alongside a carbon footprint calculator.
Trendy chocolatier sweetriot (New York, New York) makes all-natural chocolate treats (called “peaces”) and works to create a more just and celebrated multicultural world. sweetriot gets its all-natural cacao from countries of origin in Latin America and abides by ethical and FairTrade sourcing. The finished dark chocolate–covered cacao goodies are packaged in recycled and reusable tins featuring the work of emerging artists. If you do not have local recycling facilities, the company encourages you to return your tin to them for recycling. sweetriot offsets all employee travel and office emissions and offers customers the option to offset carbon dioxide emissions for shipping their order. The company promotes fair human resources practices and work–life balance, and it also supports nonprofits that share similar values and ideals.
SunNight Solar (Houston, Texas) is a company focused on the triple bottom line that makes solar-powered flashlights. The lights are rugged and durable and suited for harsh conditions in which no light is available. The lights use a low-environmental impact battery and can be used for either task lighting or room lighting. The solar-powered lights offer an alternative to kerosene, wood, and other forms of lighting used in developing countries.
SunNight Solar is home to the extremely popular BoGo Light program. For each flashlight purchased, the company donates one flashlight to a nonprofit for distribution in a developing country and gives them $1 per flashlight to offset importation and distribution costs. The company sponsors several campaigns that maximize its social impact. Lights for Good is a fund-raising partnership with nonprofit organizations. WarLights allows you to purchase a flashlight for distribution to American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Three new giving programs are being developed: Save Our Sisters (which will donate lights to women’s groups and collectives in developing countries), Village Lights, and Need It/Take It.
Thanksgiving Coffee Company (Fort Bragg, California) roasts Fair Trade, organic, and kosher blends of coffee. The company purchases coffee beans directly from small family farms and cooperatives in Guatemala, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Nicaragua. The company partners with nonprofits to support sustainable farming practices and environmental causes. The company recycles, composts, uses biodiesel in delivery trucks, and uses recycled paper. In 2002, the company purchased its first carbon offsets and became the first carbon neutral coffee company.
TOMS Shoes (Santa Monica, California) was founded with the singular mission of improving the lives of children by providing shoes to those in need. Shoes are produced in Argentina and China following fair labor practices while creating minimal environmental impact. Factories are monitored by TOMS and third-party independent auditors. TOMS Shoes are sold online and in retail locations around the world with the promise that for each pair purchased, TOMS will give one pair to a child in need in Argentina, South Africa, and other locations around the world. To date, TOMS has donated over 60,000 pairs of shoes during Shoe Drops around the world. Through its nonprofit, Friends of TOMS, the public is invited to participate in Shoe Drops. The documentary For Tomorrow: The TOMS Shoe Story follows the early days of the company and its initial Shoe Drops.
Tropical Salvage (Portland, Oregon) is a tropical wood furniture company that never cuts down a single tree to make a product. Items are made from reclaimed wood and trees from rivers and lakes; flood, landslide, and volcanic debris; and construction sites. The wood and trees are then transported to one of two facilities in Indonesia where artisans build, carve, and finish the wood to create beautiful furniture and decorative items. Items are then shipped to North America for retail sale. Tropical Salvage is collaborating with the nonprofit Institute for Culture and Ecology to create the Jepara Forest Conservancy, a public forest park and environmental education facility.
VerTerra (New York, New York) is a manufacturer of disposable dinnerware. Plates, bowls, and cups are made from 100% renewable and compostable plant matter and water. The products are created by collecting fallen leaves from plantations, taken to the factory, sprayed with high pressure water, steamed, and UV sterilized. In the manufacturing process, the company recaptures over 80% of the water used. No chemicals, lacquers, glues, bonding agents, or toxins are ever used. The entire process uses only a fraction of the typical energy used for recycling. The disposable dinnerware products are durable, naturally biodegrade in 2 months, and can be used in the microwave, oven, and refrigerator. Items are made in South Asia by VerTerra’s own employees where employees receive fair wages in safe working conditions and are provided access to health care.
White Bear Racquet and Swim Club (White Bear Lake, Minnesota) has fully embraced sustainability. The sustainability section of the club’s Web site outlines the many initiatives the company has undertaken in the quest for a more environmentally friendly facility. While too numerous to list, here is a small sampling of what the company has accomplished.
White Bear Racquet and Swim Club has replaced incandescent lights; increased the use of natural lighting; replaced chlorine with a salt water system for the pool; replaced a five–tennis court bubble with a permanent, super insulated tennis building featuring in-court radiant heat, installed cooling, and heating powered by ground source heat pumps (the old courts required over $44,000 in heating costs; the new courts require less than $300 in heating costs); and installed a super efficient lighting system. In addition, White Bear Racquet and Swim Club installed water-saving showerheads, restored outside land to its natural state (eliminating the need for watering, mowing, and fertilizing), reduced waste, began using local and organic foods, began using natural green cleaning products, and incorporated office furniture that is made from renewable or recycled materials and can all be recycled.
The White Dog Café (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is a restaurant that supports sustainable agriculture by purchasing seasonal, local, organic ingredients from local farmers whenever possible. In addition to supporting sustainable agriculture, the White Dog Café partners with “sister” restaurants in the area that are minority-owned. This project encourages customers to visit neighborhoods they otherwise might not visit and to support minority-owned businesses and cultural institutions. The sister restaurant project also has an international dimension to foster awareness, communication, and economic justice worldwide. The international program offers educational tours to the countries of international sister restaurants, a chef exchange program, hosts international visitors, and promotes Fair Trade.
White Dog Café has a mentoring program with a local high school’s restaurant, hotel, and tourism program, organizes community tours through different Philadelphia neighborhoods, hosts annual multicultural events, participates in Take a Senior to Lunch Day, and hosts speakers each month on various social and policy issues. White Dog Café donates an amazing 20% of pretax profits to nonprofits and the café has also created its own nonprofit, White Dog Community Enterprises.
Zambezi Organic Forest Honey (Oxford, Ohio) was founded by former Peace Corps volunteers who spent time in Zambia, Africa. Zambezi Organic Forest Honey helps local Zambian beekeepers access new markets for the organic honey that the Lunda people have been farming as a way of life for over 500 years.
Zambian beekeepers who register with the company cooperative gain access to free training on sustainable beekeeping, agriculture, and forestry practices; free education for literacy, mathematics, and small-business skills; free beekeeping supplies; and farmers are under no obligation to sell solely to the company, fostering further economic growth of the region. The company pays, on average, 40% above market prices for the organic honey, and the company collective currently has 5,000 registered beekeepers. In addition, Zambezi Honey donates a portion of profits back to Zambia for projects in malaria prevention, HIV/AIDS education, school scholarships, and rural-income generation grants.