As individuals, there are many ways to reduce environmental impact: eating less meat, or taking the bus instead of a car. But individuals and households constitute only part of overall carbon output. The industrial and commercial sectors, with their global supply chains, factories, and deliveries, have a much greater impact than individuals. In 2008, the US Department of Energy estimated that the Residential sector accounted for just 20% of overall energy use (US Department of Energy).
Beyond making changes in one’s personal lifestyle, how can individuals affect the broader issues of climate change and carbon emissions? By supporting companies that engage in practices which they support. A new website, GoodGuide.com, rates companies and products on their environmental, health, and social impacts. Their 0-10 rating system incorporates over 200 data points, many of which rate companies on their environmental impact. A few examples:
Best Companies for Climate Change – Each company is rated on having proactive policies for addressing climate change. Some surprising leaders: Bristol Myers Squibb and GlaxoSmithKline, two pharmaceutical companies, and Unilever, one of the largest manufacturers of personal care products.
Best Companies on Carbon Emissions – Somewhat more specific, this list rates companies on public reports to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and other similar gases. A group of top-performing companies on this list are dairy manufacturers: Stonyfield Farm Inc, Brown Cow Farm, and Groupe Danone, the makers of Dannon Yogurt.
Best Companies on Water Management – Looking beyond just air emissions, a list of companies who have proactive water management policies is headed by Method Inc., the popular manufacturer of household cleaners. A few spots behind them is Seventh Generation, another popular company in the same sector.
It can be interesting to look at everyday companies through this data-driven lens. Once consumers learn whether they support the policies of their favorites companies, they can begin to reduce their environmental impact not just in their homes, but at the store as well.
About the author: Joel works for GoodGuide.com, a new website that provides environmental, social, and health information on over 60,000 companies and products. Find the best products for you and the world at www.goodguide.com .