green companies

The only thing that is truly certain in this life is that all of us will die. We don’t know when or how, but we do know that ultimately we cannot avoid death. Impermanence and death are inevitable and universal parts of life.

Rather than live in denial or in fear of that fact (as so many people do), we should strive to face it and prepare for it to the extent that we can. That way, we can have a role in trying to ensure that our end of life experience and our post-death legacy are in keeping with our values and that our loved ones know what we want and won’t have to muddle through all of our death care decisions and post-death details and arrangements without any of our guidance when they are in the process of grieving.

Each of us has an impact on our environment not just during our life, but after our death. Conventional modern burials and cremation both have significant negative impacts on the environment. Death is natural, but the ways our modern society usually processes dead bodies is far from natural (or benign). Embalming fluid is a toxic mix of formaldehyde, benzene (both of which are carcinogens), and methanol. (Some shocking stats: Embalmers have a 13% higher death rate, 8 times higher risk of leukemia, and 3 times higher risk of ALS than the general population. Sources: See link at the end of this paragraph.) Caskets and vaults use vast quantities of natural resources, such as wood (including tropical hardwoods), steel, copper, bronze, and/or concrete, and can leach iron, lead, zinc, and cobalt into the soil. Meanwhile, cremation involves using a lot of energy (burning fossil fuels) to reach a temperature of 1900 degrees F for more than 2 hours, which produces considerable CO2 emissions. Cremation also releases mercury—a dangerous neurotoxin—into the air (due to the incineration of people’s silver dental fillings), as well as other by-product air pollutants (e.g., dioxins, nitrogen oxide, and particulates). For additional impacts and statistics, click here.

Fortunately, alternatives to conventional burial and cremation are now available in many areas, as the interest in natural burial is growing. Increasingly, people are opting to be buried without being embalmed (or else being embalmed using non-toxic, biodegradable fluids, or temporarily preserved using dry ice); wrapped in a shroud or kept in a biodegradable casket or container; and buried in a natural setting (rather than in the typical mowed and manicured lawn cemetery that uses toxic herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides), where their body and its nutrients can decompose into the earth (dust to dust), allowing them to contribute to new life. An added bonus is that natural burial options are often considerably less expensive than conventional casket (or vault) burials.

The Green Burial Council certifies funeral products, services (funeral homes), and cemeteries and burial grounds that meet their criteria. While definitions of “green” can vary, these are their general criteria: “The Green Burial Council believes cemeteries, preserves, and burial grounds can broadly be considered green if they meet the following criteria: caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact that aids in the conservation of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, protection of worker health, and the restoration and/or preservation of habitat. Green burial necessitates the use of non-toxic and biodegradable materials, such as caskets, shrouds, and urns. Hybrid, natural, and conservation cemeteries choosing to follow these basic guidelines fall under the general category of green cemeteries, as opposed to conventional lawn cemeteries that require concrete, plastic or other vaults or liners, and allow embalmed bodies and exotic wood or metal caskets.”

For specific details on their certification criteria for burial products, services, and venues, check out the Green Burial Council’s Standards.

You can find a list of certified providers and products on the Green Burial Council’s website. You can also find providers listed at AGreenerFuneral.org.

Other innovative natural burial options are emerging, including human composting (accelerated decomposition; see Recompose below), using mushroom mycelium to help cleanse bodies of toxins to prevent them from leaching toxins into the ground (see Infinity Burial Suit below), and an egg-shaped biodegradable burial pod (see Capsula Mundi below).

 

Green burial resources:

And these are other useful resources on related issues of death, death care, and end of life:

Share

August 20, 2019
[Click here to comment]

To make your gifts more meaningful, mindful, beneficial, and green (and avoid contributing to: mindless material consumption, exploitative corporations & sweatshops, excessive resource use, and waste), consider opting for the following types of gifts. (You could also let family members know that you prefer to receive these types of gifts if they are struggling to figure out what to get for you.)

  1. Charitable donations to non-profits, on the recipients’ behalf
  2. Experiences (e.g., events, concerts, shows, activities, memberships, parks pass, dining out)
  3. Time, assistance, services (e.g., meals, child care, rides to appointments, housecleaning, etc.)
  4. Homemade, handmade, or homegrown goods (e.g., foods, art, crafts, knitted items)
  5. Trees planted in someone’s honor or in someone’s memory (via One Tree Planted, Cool Earth, the Green Belt Movement, etc.)
  6. Locally-made goods
  7. Goods bought from local, small, independent businesses
  8. Fair-trade goods (or else “Made in the USA” goods)
  9. Goods from socially and environmentally responsible companies (e.g. B Corporations, benefit corporations, 1% for the Planet businesses)
  10. Organic, recycled, natural, non-toxic and/or energy-saving or water-saving goods
  11. Books (ideally from small/independent bookstores) or music
  12. Subscriptions to online media (newspapers, magazines, etc.)
  13. Eminently useful items (e.g., foods, emergency kits/supplies, socks, organic seeds, solar generators, money) or things you know the recipient wants and needs
  14. Durable items (not cheaply made or disposable)
  15. Re-gifted or lightly used items; family heirlooms; or antique/vintage goods
  16. Socially responsible investments (e.g., fossil-fuel-free stocks, green bonds, etc.)

Also avoid buying or using wasteful, disposable packaging or wrapping items. I often put gifts in gift bags, which can be readily re-used, or I just put a nice ribbon around some gifts (and use no wrapping). If getting gift cards, try to select electronic e-cards or paper cards rather than single-use plastic cards.

As for product gifts, a few of my favorite product companies include: Patagonia, Real Goods, Coyuchi, Earthkind, Bees Wrap, Indigenous (clothing), REI, and Lifekind(Wherever you get gifts from, please try to avoid making purchases from Amazon and Walmart.)

Lastly, if you’re planning to get a Christmas tree for the holidays, consider some alternatives to the usual chopped-down tree, such as buying or renting a living (potted and replantable) tree (do a web search for the words “living Christmas trees” or “live xmas trees” and your county name to see if there are places near you that offer these; or just go get a live, plantable tree from a nursery). Alternatively, you could put ornaments or lights on a tree that’s already growing outside in your yard. Or get creative and make a wreath or a table/mantle garland decoration from evergreen trimmings, and forego having an xmas tree at all (gasp!). In a climate crisis (which is what we are in now), and with millions of trees being destroyed by wildfires, drought, deforestation, and pests every year, I think it’s entirely fair and appropriate to question some traditions (such as our Great Annual Xmas Tree Massacre) and start up some new ones. Regardless of what you choose to do for Christmas, you can always make a donation to a reforestation group or a local tree-planting group, or plant a tree.

Useful online resources:

 

Relevant posts from the past, for additional suggestions:

Share

November 21, 2018
[Click here to comment]

More than 2,500 businesses around the world (from more than 60 countries and 130 different industries) have now become certified as B Corporations, as of July 2018.  “B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.” The B Impact Assessment gives companies a score based on how they perform on metrics for impact on their communities, the environment, workers, customers, and internal governance.

A few of the largest or most well-known B Corporations are: Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Method, Ecover, Earthbound Farm, Eileen Fisher, Danone, Athleta, and Natura. And a few other B Corps that I like to highlight include: Alter Eco, Dr. Bronner’s, Beneficial State Bank, New Resource Bank, and RSF Capital Management.

The annual Best for the World ratings highlight businesses that have scored in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations on the assessment. Companies that have scored in the top percentiles across a majority of the assessment’s categories, based on company size, are honored as Best for the World Overall; and companies that have scored in the top percentiles in a given category, again based on company size, are honored as: Best for the Environment, Best for Community, Best for Workers, Best for Customers, and/or Best for Governance.

Click here for more information on the 2018 Best for the World honorees (including a link to interactive data sets).

And click here to find other B Corps, including ones in your region. (You can search by location, name, industry, or keyword.)

Any company can take the B Impact Assessment, a free and confidential tool that allows you to “measure what matters” and compare your company’s practices with others.

 

Related posts:

Share

July 30, 2018
[Click here to comment]

1hx7bwmthtg5ekjaeb4fxegAlmost 2,300 businesses around the world (from more than 50 countries and 130 different industries) have now gone through the B Impact Assessment and have become certified as B Corporations (by B Lab), as of Autumn 2017. “The B Impact Assessment gives companies a score based on how they perform on metrics for impact on their communities, the environment, workers, and customers.” A few of the largest and most well-known B Corporations are: Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Method, Etsy, and Natura.

The annual Best for the World ratings highlight businesses that have scored in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations on the assessment. “Companies that have scored in the top percentiles across a majority of the assessment’s categories, based on company size, are honored as Best for the World Overall, and companies that have scored in the top percentiles in a given category, again based on company size, are honored as Best for the Environment, Best for Community, Best for Workers, and Best for Customers.” This year, some companies have also been designated as Best for the Long Term (based on the company’s Governance ratings). In 2017, 846 companies have qualified for at least one of these Best for the World categories, and 176 companies are considered Best for the World Overall. Below we’ve listed a subset of those companies.

The following are 24 companies that not only achieved the 2017 Overall “Best for the World” designation, but also achieved at least two specific category ratings, including the Best for the Environment category:

A to Z  Wineworks

Alter Eco

Bolder Industries

Catalyst Partnersclimatesmart_logo_large_0

Climate Smart Business, Inc. (Canada)

Dopper BV (Netherlands)

Dr. Bronner’s

Eco-Bags Products

ECO2LIBRIUM (Kenya)

Ecotrust Forest Management (EFM)

Grounds for Change

Hepburn Wind (Australia)

Inesscents Aromatic Botanicals

MOVIN (Brazil)

New Belgium Brewing Co.

Northeast Green Building Consulting

Papel Semente Ind e Comercio (Brazil)patagonia4

Patagonia, Inc.

Saul Good Gift Co. (Canada)

South Mountain Company

SQUIZ (France)

xrunner Venture (Peru)

Yellow Leaf Hammocks

YouGreen Cooperativa (Brazil)

The B Corporations with some of the highest overall scores include: South Mountain Company (score: 183), ECO2LIBRIUM (score: 180), Patagonia, Ecotrust Forest Management (EFM), Trillium Asset Management, Portafolio Verde (Colombia), Alter Eco, Home Care Associates of Philadelphia, Yellow Leaf Hammocks, Dr. Bronner’s, and RSF Capital Management/Social Finance.

Click here to read stories about some of the Best for the World B Corporations.

And click here to find other B Corps, including ones in your region. (You can search by location, name, industry, or keyword.)

Related posts:

Share

September 28, 2017
[Click here to comment]

Almost 2,000 businesses around the world have now gone through the B Impact Assessment and have become certified as B Corporations (by B Lab), as of late 2016. “The B Impact Assessment gives companies a score based on how they perform on metrics for impact on their communities, the environment, workers, and customers.”

cover-art-221x300-1The annual Best for the World ratings “highlight the businesses that have scored in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations on the assessment. Companies that have scored in the top percentiles across a majority of the assessment’s categories, based on company size, are honored as Best for the World Overall, and companies that have scored in the top percentiles in a given category, again based on company size, are honored as Best for the Environment, Best for Community, Best for Workers and Best for Customers.” This year, 515 companies have qualified for at least one of these Best for the World categories, and 140 companies are considered Best for the World Overall. Below we’ve listed a subset of those companies: companies that were deemed Best for the World Overall, and also qualified for one or two (of the four) specific “Best for” categories. (No companies have yet qualified for all of the “Best for” categories.)

The following are 20 companies that achieved the 2016 Overall “Best for the World” designation, as well as two specific category ratings, including the Best for the Environment category (and their second category would either be Best for Community, Best for Customers, or Best for Workers):

  • Eco2Librium (business consulting on energy and forestry enterprises)
  • Mobisol (solar energy for developing nations)brand
  • Revivn (electronic recycling for businesses)
  • Squiz (reusable food pouches; Switzerland)
  • Telesis Corp. (urban community regeneration, planning, finance)
  • Triciclos (recycling, waste management company; Brazil & Chile)
  • Wholly Hemp (skin care products)
  • X-Runner (dry-toilets/sanitation product & service for low-income households in Peru)
  • YouGreen (recycling and waste cooperative; Brazil)

These companies achieved the Best for the World Overall rating plus the Best for the Environment rating:

  • Accion Verde
  • Atayne
  • Comet Skateboards
  • Cuento de Luz
  • Dolphin Blue
  • Fazenda de Toca Organicos
  • Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods
  • Jibu
  • Northeast Green Building Consulting
  • One Earth Designs
  • RainGrid
  • Revive  (Belgium)
  • Seeds Printing
  • Sistema Biobolsa
  • The Arnold Development Group
  • W.S. Badger Co.

And these companies achieved the Best for the World Overall rating plus two of the other sub-categories (but not the Best for the Environment category):

  • Abacus Wealth Partners
  • Abramar
  • Australian Ethical Investment
  • Beneficial State Bank
  • Bridges Ventures
  • Build With Prospect
  • Clean Yield Asset Management
  • Eudaimonia
  • Farmland
  • HCA
  • Imajine That
  • Juhudi Kilimo
  • Roshan
  • RSF Capital Management
  • Saber Es Poder
  • Trillium Asset Management

 

Click here to read stories about some of these B Corporations, as featured in B Magazine.

And click here to find other B Corps, including ones in your region. (You can search by location, name, industry, or keyword.) A few of the largest and most well-known B Corporations are: Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Etsy, Sungevity, Seventh Generation, the Honest Company, Method, and Natura.

Related posts:

Share

November 28, 2016
[Click here to comment]

A few months ago, I posted five TED talks on this blog. As promised, here’s another set of recommended TED talks given by knowledgeable and compelling speakers:

A Guerilla Gardener in South Central L.A. / Ron Finley

Why Climate Change is a Threat to Human Rights / Mary Robinson

The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture (TEDxLincoln) / Mary Pipher

A Teacher Growing Green in the South Bronx / Stephen Ritz

Are Mushrooms the New Plastic? / Eben Bayer

 

Related post:  TED Talks to Watch (Part I)

And here are some other collections of environment-related TED talks:

Share

February 12, 2016
[Click here to comment]

“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”Anne Lappe

Here are a few ideas and suggestions for less materialistic, more beneficial and values-driven gift-giving—for the holidays or any other occasion:

  1. Think about some non-commercial or non-material things you would like, and think about or ask your family and friends what types of non-material things they would like. On sokind_logothe SoKind Registry, you and others can create your own wish lists, which can include anything (not just new stuff), such as experiences/activities (e.g., parks passes/memberships, event tickets), time/assistance or services, handmade/homemade or homegrown goods, donations to charities (see #2 below), etc.
  1. Donate to charitable organizations in honor of the people on your gift list. You could pick a cause that you know they support. Some of our previous posts list various environmentally and socially beneficial organizations, including: broad-based sustainability orgs, and other lesser-known environmental and non-environmental orgs.  And here are some other types of organizations you might consider: a refugee rescue organization (such as the IRC or UNHCR), wildlife conservation/protection group, animal shelter or animal rescue group, food bank, homeless shelter, women’s shelter, foster child or other children’s organization, Habitat for Humanity, seniors support organization, Meals on Wheels, a tree-planting organization, a local rural/volunteer fire department, or a public radio/TV station or investigative media outlet. You could also give the TisBest Charity Gift Card, which allows the recipient to spend the funds on a charity of their choice (among 300+ options).
  1. When buying products, buy from small, locally owned businesses, green businesses, and/or businesses that are certified B Corporations or benefit corporations. A few B Corps that sell consumer products include: Patagonia, The Honest Company, Indigenous Designs, W.S. Badger, Alter Eco, Atayne, Better World Books, Saul Good Gift Co., Seventh Generation, Method, and Ben and Jerry’s. (Whatever you do, please try to avoid shopping on Amazon or at Walmart!)
  1. 9780300206319Give the gift of information and inspiration: books! There are so many great books (and e-books) on sustainability topics. Go to your local independent bookstore (or if you don’t have one, you could shop online at Better World Books, Indiebound.org, Barnes & Noble, or Powells Books); be sure to avoid shopping for books on Amazon. Here are a few recently published books you could check out:

Voices of the Wild: Animal Songs, Human Din, and the Call to Save Natural Soundscapes, by Bernie Krause (who also recently wrote The Great Animal Orchestra)

The Heart of Sustainability: Restoring Ecological Balance from the Inside Out, by Andres Edwards

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert9780865717626_p0_v2_s192x300

Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality: On Care for Our Common Home, by Pope Francis

The Permaculture City: Regenerative Design for Urban, Suburban, and Town Resilience, by Toby Hemenway

You can find a wide selection of other books on green topics from Chelsea Green Publishing and New Society Publishers and Island Press, among other publishers.

 

Whatever you give as gifts, do your best to avoid buying cheaply-made, sweatshop-manufactured (labor-exploiting), toxic, disposable, or wasteful products and packaging. Instead, consider alternatives to buying new Things, and when you do buy products, look for Fair Trade or locally made, well-made and durable (or edible/consumable), efficient, non-toxic, and needed or at least useful goods made by ethical companies, using organic, recycled, or natural materials and minimal packaging, whenever possible.

To get off of mailing lists for unwanted catalogs and junk mail, check out CatalogChoice.

For some additional green-gift suggestions, see these posts:

Share

November 27, 2015
[Click here to comment]

Here’s a selection of five good TED talks related to the environment, energy, public health, nature, and other relevant topics. The engaging speakers who have given these talks are experts in their fields. Check out these free videos of the following brief and fascinating talks.

The Business Logic of Sustainability / Ray Anderson

The Voice of the Natural World / Bernie Krause

Biomimicry in Action / Janine Benyus

A 40-Year Plan for Energy / Amory Lovins

Protect Our Oceans / Sylvia Earle

 

UPDATE: We’ve now posted a second set of talks: More TED Talks to Watch (Part II)

And here are some other collections of environment-related TED talks:

Share

September 29, 2015
[Click here to comment]

B Corporations (known as B Corps, for short) are companies that “use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.” As of June 2015, there are now more than 1,300 certified B Corporations, in 41 countries and 121 industries (twice as many industries as were represented a year ago). Among the larger and most well-known companies that are certified B Corporations are: Ben and Jerry’s, Method, Patagonia, Seventh Generation, Sungevity, The Honest Company, Natura, and Etsy (which recent became a publicly traded company).

BCorp-620x415Each year, B Lab recognizes a group of B Corps as “Best for the World” honorees. These companies have earned an overall score in the top 10% of all certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment, a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of a company’s impact on its workers, community, and the environment. These are businesses that go beyond simply being benign or reducing their harm to society; they make significant efforts to be beneficial and even benevolent.

Dozens of companies made the top 10%. But here are this year’s Best of the Best. The companies that got the five highest scores of all (in the overall Best for the World list) were:

  • South Mountain Company (an employee-owned, residential design/build and renewable energy firm), West Tisbury, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts [They received the top score overall, which is currently 179]
  • Juhudi Kilimo (an agricultural asset financing and training company; lender / credit provider), Nairobi, Kenya
  • Echale a tu casa (self-build affordable housing program and housing improvements production company), Mexico City, Mexico
  • Beneficial State BankBeneficial State Bank (community development financial institution; bank / credit provider), Oakland, California
  • One Earth Designs (sustainable living products, such as the SolSource solar grill), Hong Kong (as well as offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts and in China)

 

Within the Best for the Environment category, these were the companies with the five highest environment scores:piedmont_logo_LRG_0

  • Atayne (high-performance outdoor and athletic apparel), Brunswick, Maine
  • Dolphin Blue (sustainable products online retailer), Dallas, Texas
  • Method Products (home and personal care products), San Francisco, California

There are also categories for Best for Community and Best for Workers.

 

Click here for stories about some of this year’s Best for the World companies.

Also follow the B Corps blog and B The Change Media, a new media hub for stories about B Corporations and benefit corporations.

And click here to find other B Corps. (You can search by location, name, industry, or keyword.)

Note: B Corporations and “benefit corporations” are similar but different things. For an explanation of each and the difference between the two, please see our previous post on this topic:

Benefit Corporations and B Corps: Businesses for the Common Good

Other relevant posts:

Best of the “Best for the World” B Corps of 2016

Beneficial Businesses: Top B Corps of 2014

Green Business, Corporate Social Responsibility, Ethical Finance, and Sustainable Economies

Share

June 10, 2015
[Click here to comment]