On April 22, less than two weeks from now, more than one billion people around the world will celebrate Earth Day. Traditionally, Earth Day has been the ideal time for brands to tout their eco-friendly practices and vie for consumers’ attention with incentives to promote their brand, rather than promote Earth Day itself. On a corporate level, it’s a day dedicated to actually making environmental contributions. Some businesses choose to dedicate the day to conserving electricity while others encourage volunteering with a local community program that endorses sustainability. However, we should not only be recognizing brands and companies that are green during a specific time of year, but the companies that instill sustainability into their practices on a daily basis to benefit the environment for the longer term.
Ben & Jerry’s
What are the first thoughts that come to mind when you’re buying ice cream? Chances are it’s not the environmental, social and economic impact of that cone, but rather the flavor. In 2005, Ben & Jerry's became the first ice cream company in the world to use Fairtrade-certified ingredients. To be considered Fairtrade, a company must pass rigorous standards that encourage environmentally responsible production, while ensuring social and economic fairness. Not only are the ingredients Fairtrade, but Ben & Jerry’s recycles waste made from dairy to generate energy to power the dairy supplier farms. In 2009, the company made the transition to FSC-certified paperboard, which has also helped reduce 1,000 tons of waste per year compared to the old container.
L'Oréal is the leader in the Household Products sector of Climate Counts, an organization that scores the world's largest companies on their climate impact to spur corporate climate responsibility and conscious consumption. Committed to shrinking its environmental footprint, L'Oréal is striving to implement sustainable development actions in all stages of a product's lifecycle, from design to sale. As part of its 10-year environmental strategy (2005-2015), L’Oréal has set three clear targets for its plants and distribution centers: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and waste production by 50 percent.
Two brands of the L’Oreal Group, Garnier and Biotherm, reconstructed their packaging to incorporate sustainability. Biotherm eliminated excess leaflets by printing product information right inside the product’s case. Garnier’s flagship 50-ml skin care jarwas redesigned to reflect an eco-design initiative, which cut the packaging’s impact on the environment by 30%.
Timberland’s passion for preserving the environment roots right down to the soles of the footwear it produces. Timberland puts as much recycled content into product design as possible and works to ensure these choices are cost effective, using 59 percent recycled materials for the footwear. In 2012, Timberland’s Earthkeepers collection recycled millions of plastic water bottles to build the foundation of the brand’s shoes and boots. Timberland has saved more than 75 million bottles from landfills by incorporating recycled PET materials into its footwear products. The Earthkeepers collection is Timberland’s fastest growing and largest product line—indicating that consumers are purchasing from brands that create eco-conscious products.
National Geographic partnered with GlobeScan to develop an international research approach to measure and monitor consumer progress toward environmentally sustainable consumption. The 2012 results revealed that Americans are the lowest ranked consumers when it comes to sustainable consumption. For many brands, not enough emphasis is placed on educating consumers about what the company is doing to foster environmental sustainability. Recognizing environmental initiatives should not solely depend on Earth Day. Brands should continually educate their audience on the positive strides that the company makes; it may make you think twice the next time you’re scanning the endless options of ice cream brands!