With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.
When it comes to corporate responsibility, far too many major brands are like a bad boyfriend: Sure, their claims sound great at first, but it doesn’t take much follow-up before their true colors come out, leaving you disappointed and in desperate need of a rebound.
But hey, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and no one wants to hear those stories. To celebrate this day of love, this week we’re tipping our hats to seven brand crushes that have never let us down.
Method is one of those brands you just have to love. The company launched in 2001 with a few natural home cleaning sprays. By the following year, its products were on the shelves in Target stores nationwide. In 2009, Method became one of the first Cradle to Cradle endorsed companies, with 37 C2C certified products at launch, among the most of any company in the world (now up to 60 certified products and counting). In 2012, it rocked the packaged goods industry again by creating soap bottle packaging made almost entirely from recovered ocean trash.
Method hopes its new factory on the South Side of Chicago will be the first LEED Platinum certified factory in the consumer packaged goods industry. The company already revealed plans for the largest rooftop farm in the world atop its factory, which will produce up to 1 million pounds of produce each year. The fact that Method never overtly claims to be “green” only makes us love them more.
In our opinion, Unilever‘s CEO Paul Polman is enough reason for the company to make our list. In a 2014 survey, Unilever annihilated the competition in sustainability leadership, largely thanks to the “striking” emotional appeal of its CEO. When investors criticized the company for spending its time on social good programs in the developing world, rather than maximizing shareholder returns by all means necessary, Polman famously retorted, “If you don’t like it, go somewhere else.”
And, in what is an unfortunately rare occurrence, Unilever’s business practices match up its sustainably-minded CEO: In rankings that lambast other companies for falling short, Unilever consistently earns top brass as one of few exceptions. (Seriously, take your pick: deforestation, palm oil practices, carbon emissions, the list goes on and on.) If that isn’t enough to make you swoon, the company is also well on its way to sending zero waste to landfill, and it struck a five-year global agreement with a U.N. agency that aims to better train and connect smallholder farmers to the marketplace.
Far ahead of the pack, Chipotle has been focusing on sustainable sourcing since 2008. The company has gradually increased its sustainable sourcing practices, starting with hormone- and antibiotic-free meats and building up to local produce sourcing. Along the way, it captured hearts and minds with cause marketing ads that shed light on factory farming and sustainable agriculture.
And it’s not one of those brand crushes that bails when the going gets tough: This year the fast-casual chain demonstrated its commitment to sustainable sourcing by cutting out pork at more than a third of its restaurants after a supplier failed to meet company standards. The company doubled down on its position during its earnings call this month, which was basically a business case for sustainable sourcing.
Ah, Patagonia: Just like that high school crush who still makes your heart skip when you see her at holiday parties. This Ventura, California-based clothing company has been around for more than 40 years, and it has been serious about sustainability from the start.
With that much history, it’s tough to describe all the reasons we love Patagonia, but here are some standouts: The company has been making fleece from repurposed plastics since 1993. It later debuted a plant-based wetsuit and even went fair trade. Patagonia also consistently irks other companies (and makes us jump for joy) around Black Friday: Its “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign, and similar initiatives that target reduced consumption, urge consumers to think twice before buying. Wow, there’s a novel idea.
5. New Belgium Brewing Co.
But these aren’t the only ways New Belgium embraces sustainability: Back in 2010, TriplePundit readers voted then co-CEOs, Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan, as some of the most sustainably-minded in the country. (Jordan still serves as CEO of the company.) New Belgium also made its way onto our top 10 sustainable breweries list, is 100 percent employee-owned and was one of only six companies recognized in a recent study for taking responsibility for its packaging.
6. Seventh Generation
Established in 1988, this Burlington, Vermont-based brand remains an independent, privately-held company. It was one of the first to bring natural cleaning products to the mass market, and it remains one of the biggest names out there when it comes to cleaning your home without harsh chemicals.
Not one to rest on its laurels, Seventh Generation continues to be vocal about chemicals reform outside its own walls — from leading the Companies for Safer Chemicals coalition to becoming one of the largest donors to the Whole Planet Foundation, which seeks to provide micro-financing for sustainable development projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
7. Tesla Motors
With the launch of the Roadster in 2008, Tesla Motors effectively catapulted electric vehicles into the mainstream. Although the cost was far out of reach for most drivers, the long-range electric sports car was the first to earn the attention of tried-and-true car junkies — proving, at long last, that EVs weren’t just for “tree-hugging hippies.” Even then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger weighed in, famously calling the Roadster a “sexy car.”
The automaker’s growth was swift and dominant: In 2013, it paid off a $451.8 million load from the Department of Energy — nine years before it was due. Tesla has now set its sights on bigger things — like its planned “Gigafactory,” that will produce batteries for both vehicles and energy storage, and its decision to open-source its coveted technology to the entire auto industry. We’re still waiting on that lower-priced model though, guys.
Did we miss your favorite brand? Tell us about it in the comments section!
Image courtesy of Method
Mary Mazzoni is the Senior Editor of TriplePundit. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.