So You’re Recycling. What About the Companies You Buy From?

The eco-concious consumer knows a thousand ways to be green: take the bus to work, turn lights off when you leave the house, and of course, compost and recycle. Recycling initiatives are on the rise in communities around the world, but individual programs are only part of the solution. Waste, and the potential gains from recycling, are far higher in the commercial and industrial sectors than in the residential one. For example, the production of one car creates 8000kg of raw material residue, according to the United Nations Environmental Program.

Consumer companies differ in how well they’ve embraced sustainability initiatives. A new website, GoodGuide.com, rates products and companies on environmental, health, and social criteria. Using over 200 data points, they produce a 0-10 rating on the sustainability of over 62,000 products. Focusing on just a few of those data points gives a view into the most proactive companies:

Best Companies on Recycled Materials – This list orders companies based on their commitment to use or manufacture recycled materials. Many of the companies on this list are food companies: Chiquita Brands, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and the Heinz Frozen Food Company.

Best Companies for Carbon Footprint – Food companies also top this list of companies with the lowest contribution to global warming. Bob Evans Food, Nestle, and Dreyer’s Ice Cream are all in the best list.

In addition to environmental responsibility, companies are also accountable to their customers and employees. GoodGuide provides ratings on these qualities as well:

Best Family Friendly Companies – Companies are rated on whether it provides day care services or extra maternity leave beyond the legal minimum, and whether the company has won a family-friendly prize like a Working Mother Award. Perhaps surprisingly, big drug companies top this list: Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb and GlaxoSmithKline score very well.

Best Companies for Retirement Benefits – When companies are rated according to their retirement benefits programs, there are some well-known standouts: the 3M company, makers of Scotch Tape, and California Pizza Kitchen.

Consumers are often looking for the best way to make a positive impact on the environment. Starting recycling programs in homes and communities is a great start. Another good step: Buying from companies who have programs that you believe in.

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