Like LL Bean? Everyone knows how great its clothes are. Sure, they’re not known for being terribly stylish — but there’s something comforting about that Northeastern, down-homey functionality and durability. Just the right thing for a weekend working on the farm, taking a hike, or clearing brush.
Or what about PACT? Recently profiled by MC O’Connor in another Startup Friday post, PACT’s gained many fans with its offbeat, half sexy, half cheeky approach to sustainably sourced underwear. It’s the kind of thing for sustainability geeks to wear when trying to be cool and sustainable at the same time.
But PACT doesn’t exactly communicate burly robustness, and you’ll be hard pressed to find many sustainable items at the LL Bean online store. Enter Ramblers Way Farm, a new apparel venture from the founders of Tom’s of Maine, Tom and Kate Chappell. Specializing in all types of base-layer clothing, Ramblers makes their products out of sustainably-produced wool, which is farmed and processed domestically, rather than relying on overseas facilities.
Founded in 1976, Genentech, a wholly owned member of the Roche Group since March 2009, is a biotech company with more than 11,000 employees. While generally viewed as a founder of the biotechnology industry, Genentech isn’t necessarily one of the first brand names that come to mind when people think of corporate sustainability. The pioneering firm is not an outdoor retailer or utility, so there’s no obvious connection to the environment through their product or their footprint. However, out of all the companies I’ve consulted with or worked for, Genentech is clearly among the farthest along in driving sustainability into their core DNA (forgive the pun). How did they get there, and what does a high-functioning green team at a large biotech company look like?
In a down economy, everyone has to be ready to prove the value of their contribution. Heck, even in a good economy, it’s essential to demonstrate the return on our work. But for those of us working in sustainability, the challenge is doubly important: not only do we have to create sustainable change, we often have to show our clients (or supervisors, or colleagues, etc.) the financial return each step of the way. It’s hard work, but there’s a solid strategy that can help tip the scales in your favor: pilot programs.
If I offered you a “green” cell phone for sale, what would you expect? Would you expect it to be made with recyclable or biodegradable thermoplastics? Would you expect it to come with a minimum of toxic heavy metals, or low-strength radio waves? What about the programs on it – would you expect the phone to tell you how to live a “greener” lifestyle?
Or would you think I was just schlocking another flip phone painted some ugly green color?
It’s official: 2009 is the beginning of a new era. Barack Obama is president, Detroit’s Big Three are on the verge of becoming the Little Two (and A Half?), and Seventh Generation – a brand synonymous with sustainable values – is doing business with Walmart. It’s no full-scale partnership – Seventh Generation products will be sold in just four pilot Walmart stores, under Walmart’s “Marketside” brand, as an experiment. But this relationship is meaningful and significant, to retailers and producers of both mainstream and green products.