Green Corporations… Can you trust them?



Wal-Mart, McDonald\’s, Coca-Cola, Sprint, KFC, Shell, Chase, Ford, Staples, CVS and the long list goes on. These larger than life brands immediately conjure up images and thoughts of our past experiences that have either helped or hurt these companies perception regarding sustainability.

Of the ten companies above, 100% are doing something around sustainability issues related to their respective industries. Some are improving energy, some reducing waste, some have take-back programs, some are are even developing products for the eco-conscious consumer. Whatever the companies are doing, a larger issue is hiding just under the surface… trust!

We have all felt and witnessed corporate green-washing, but is this simply the beginning of the change process, we all have to start somewhere, right? Corporate sustainability and CSR are poised to be the next evolution of business trends, similar to how IT changed the game. How can we know that these companies are sincere, committed and really able to transform their impact? Should we care or shop elsewhere?

A tougher issue many of us already know, is that the base product lines of these companies don\’t exactly help people or the planet. There are health studies, insider videos, user testimonials, advocacy groups and other opposing groups asking us quite directly \’not\’ to support some of these companies. Are these really the opposite of the shop local movement, considering others in our community are employed there?

So, what\’s a good socially responsible citizen to do? More over, what is a newly socially responsible corporation to do, when they have the realities of their industry and various product lines to transform?

Here is a fast recap of just some of the eco-positive moves BIG companies are undertaking:
1. CVS is rewarding consumers for bringing reusable bags with their Green Bag Tags
2. Sprint has a new line of eco-friendly mobile phones with less environmental impact.
3. Ford is releasing an electric vehicle on the way called the Focus Electric.
4. Staples is directly crediting shoppers for taking back used ink cartridges.
5. KFC has released the first ever reusable side container in the fast food industry (just don\’t tell the SF Soup Company)

Hopefully this corporate sustainability trend will continue and grow until the \”S\” word is removed and sustainability is just part of doing good business, that serves the triple bottom line. I guess we will have to call this LOHA then?

If you want to read more about what the world\’s largest companies are doing please pop over to and do a search for any company. Some news is positive, some negative and some down right controversial, but all of it interesting and forces us to question our beliefs.

Jared Brick is completing his MBA in Sustainable Management at the Presidio Graduate School in SF. He is working on creating the first ever reusables tracking platform, rewarding consumers everywhere in their retail experiences.