How to Tell Which Businesses Are Eco-Friendly

Reader Contribution by David Glenn
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When it comes to supporting companies, it’s been said that every dollar is a vote. When you do business with someone, you are indirectly condoning their methods. If you purchase an Apple computer product, you are sending the message that you believe that the inhumane labor practices that Apple uses in developing nations are worth the low cost and high availability of your new iPad. If you use General Electricappliances, you are sending the message that you condone tax evasion. And when you do business with a company that doesn’t follow green practices, then you are demonstrating your compliance with corporations that choose profit over sustainability and conservation.

On the other hand, if you work with businesses that do their part to protect the earth, you’re showing your support for a greener future. For example, if you were to purchase emergency food storage supplies through, you’re rewarding them for their sound environmental practices and eco-friendly products. “But wait,” you say, “I don’t know which companies are eco-friendly and which aren’t; I’m not consciously condoning anything.” Well, that excuse may have been viable a few decades ago, but with access to the internet, anyone can do a little research and see which businesses are living up to our high expectations.

Here are a few tips on how you can check up on your favorite companies to see just how green they really are.

1. Do an internet search

The quickest way to investigate a company is to simply type its name into a search engine and then include the word environment (or something similar). The returns that you get should include any progressive environmental initiatives that the company has instigated, and any other relevant data about their eco-friendliness. At the same time, careless, damaging, or environmentally irresponsible actions will come to light as well. Just make sure you ignore anything listed on a company’s homepage; many businesses today are shameless “green-washers.”

2. Check for sustainability reports

You can bet that companies that are trying hard to preserve the environment want to share that information. Check to see if a company produces a corporate social responsibility report or a sustainability report. These can often be found through links on the company’s web site (yes, I know I said to ignore information you find on their website, but full reports are a lot harder to fabricate than a few unfounded claims; chances are that a non-green company will simply not bother with a report at all), or by googling the company’s name + “social responsibility report,” “environment report,” or “sustainability report.”

3. See if they’ve earned any environmental awards or accolades

Rewards and recognition are annually given to corporations that do their part to protect nature. If the company in question has received any, then there will be record of it on the internet. If they haven’t, then they may not be as eco-friendly as you hope.

4. Visit ratings sites

Independent, non-profit organizations such as Green Seal can be a great resource. Their website includes a search program so that you can quickly and easily locate eco-friendly businesses. Other sites will actually rate companies based on their eco-friendliness. Climate Counts takes into account everything from recycling programs to the energy efficiency of automated shipping systems and gives the company a score.

5. See who they’re affiliated with

Certified green businesses will certainly make sure that their association with respected environmental groups is known. Inversely, some companies will claim to be green, but have no problem doing business with environmentally irresponsible organizations. Check around the internet and see who the company is paired up with. With a little bit of patience and some internet know-how, you’ll be able to figure out which businesses deserve your patronage, and which ones need to be taught a lesson about sustainability. 

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