The companies highlighted here produce environmentally friendly products with processes and facilities that aim to leave the smallest possible environmental footprint. From producing organic soaps to creating products out of waste that would otherwise be dumped in a landfill, these businesses have created successful, profitable enterprises.
To earn the Best for the Environment title, these companies are measured for the environmental impact of their facilities, materials, resource and energy use, emissions, and transportation and distribution. Whether a company’s products or services address an environmental issue is also taken into consideration.
Here’s how a selection of Best for the Environment companies are making good business good for the planet.
Sourcing the Best
Badger | Skin-care products | Gilsum, New Hampshire
Goat manure. That’s the only agricultural input brought onto the seventh-generation Soler Romero farm in Andalusia, Spain, that provides the more than 13,000 gallons of olive oil Badger uses each year in its skin-care products. Everything else that nourishes the 13,100 olive trees — sunshine, mulch, love — is native to the 300-acre farm itself. The manure comes from a family member’s 1,000 goats.
This farm is one of dozens Badger supports around the world. Organic cocoa butter comes from a cooperative in Peru, and fair-trade argan oil is sourced from a women’s cooperative in Morocco. Badger’s commitment to the best ingredients helps it succeed in the organic personal-care products sector, which is projected to grow almost 10 percent a year through 2020. Badger’s gross sales have risen from about $11 million in 2013 to a projection of nearly $16 million in 2016.
Although the company’s production grew significantly last year, Badger cut its electricity use per unit manufactured and reduced its carbon footprint per unit by a third with new manufacturing efficiencies.
The Little Things
Preserve | Recycled-plastic home products | Waltham, Massachusetts
Though it may not sound sexy, replacing household items like toothbrushes and tableware with environmentally friendly products as alternatives quickly adds up to a big impact. Preserve manufactures price-competitive recycled-plastic household products, which (since 1996) have prevented the manufacture of 10 million pounds of virgin plastic, CEO Eric Hudson estimates.
Most No. 5 plastic is not recycled. In 2009, Preserve unveiled the Gimme 5 recycling program, through which Preserve collects No. 5 plastics from consumers at grocery stores and from brand partnerships and recycles them to make toothbrushes and razors. Now, more than 285 Gimme 5 bins are located across the United States, and Hudson says 1 million pounds of plastic have been collected through the program and recycled so far.
The company’s latest foray is single-use plastic cutlery — an inherently wasteful and ubiquitous product — that Preserve makes with 100 percent recycled plastic. The company will be the primary supplier of cutlery for Whole Foods Market’s cafés.
“We’ve sought to pioneer a new way of doing business that empowers consumers and inspires them to expect more of the products they buy and the companies that make them,” says Hudson.
When Ecover acquired Method in 2012, their combined revenue of $200 million created the world’s largest green-cleaning company — and they’ve grown together since. Method and Ecover work to change the way household cleaning products are manufactured. Both companies decry the carcinogens and other toxins that most other manufacturers put in their cleaners. To change the industry, they’ve dubbed their joint venture “People Against Dirty,” according to Sara Crumley Berman, PR manager for Method.
The two companies built a new “South Side Soapbox” factory in Chicago last year. The plant is the first LEED-platinum certified manufacturing facility in the industry and boasts solar trees and a refurbished wind turbine that collectively reduce the plant’s energy use by more than 50 percent. Method’s zero-landfill initiative requires that everything entering the factory is used, recycled or composted, and People Against Dirty is designing a project to retain, treat and recycle water to the Great Lakes.
Natura | Cosmetics and personal-care products | Sao Paulo, Brazil
Based on a direct-sales model similar to North America’s Avon, Brazil-based Natura employs more than 7,700 people and works with a network of 1.9 million consultants. The company has reduced petroleum and synthetic ingredients in its cosmetics so that 83 percent of Natura’s ingredients come from plants. In 1983, it became the first cosmetics company to provide refills, and Natura earned carbon-neutral certification in 2007.
For 15 years, Natura has partnered with local communities in the Amazon, involving roughly 2,000 plant-harvesting families to develop an economy in which the rainforest’s trees are more valuable as the living source of cosmetics’ ingredients than they would be as lumber or firewood.
Natura earned 7.9 billion Brazilian reais ($2.4 billion) in revenue last year, a 53 percent increase since 2010. In 2014, Natura opened its $75 million, 420-acre Ecoparque production facility with state-of-the-art closed-cycle systems, including on-site gardens to filter the factory’s chemical-free wastewater.
Oil Sans Oil
Fratelli Carli | Olive oil | Imperia, Italy
Fratelli Carli in northwest Italy is a fourth-generation company, founded in 1911, that gets 100 percent of its electricity from renewables. In 2012, Fratelli Carli installed a solar photovoltaic system, which generates 20 percent of the company’s electricity. Fratelli Carli is a case study of a business steeped in tradition and on the cutting edge of sustainable technology.
Most of the company’s ingredients come directly from farms in Italy, Greece and Spain. Up to 75 percent of its suppliers are screened for positive social and environmental practices in a given year.
The company serves about a million customers worldwide, recording about 150 million euros ($166.2 million) in annual revenue and employing more than 300 workers.
A Space to Rest in Peace
Parque del Recuerdo | Cemetery | Santiago, Chile
A cemetery opened in 1980 in Santiago, Chile — one of the world’s 10 most polluted cities — with the idea of providing natural space to those mourning the loss of loved ones. In Parque del Recuerdo’s three parks, more than 3 million visitors a year honor loved ones while surrounded by 452 acres of green space with 9,820 native tree species and a variety of migratory birds.
In 2011, Parque del Recuerdo was the first cemetery to measure its carbon footprint. It reduces water use with an efficient irrigation system, landscaping that minimizes water needs and efficient bathroom fixtures. The parks use solar energy and LED lighting, and workers produce compost on-site for fertilizer.
Earning an annual revenue between $50 million and $90 million for the past three years, the parks have supported more than 120,000 grieving families.
“We are convinced that if we care about building a better place to live and a better place to host our loved ones who are no longer with us, we will be happier and overcome adversity with greater force,” says Sergio Cortés, general manager.
Seventh Generation | Household cleaners | Burlington, Vermont
When Seventh Generation’s 2010 carbon-footprint study found that 90 percent of its laundry detergent’s greenhouse gas emissions came from consumers heating water and drying clothes, the company started an educational campaign about drying clothes on a line. Last year, the company redesigned its spray-cleaner bottles to be made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic.
Many toxic chemicals used in household cleaners are known threats to health that disrupt the human endocrine system. And those chemicals have been detected in most U.S. streams. Seventh Generation closely watches its plant-based ingredient choices to avoid those with any known negative health impact, and its products are perennially listed among the safest cleaners. Every Seventh Generation bottle displays a complete list of its ingredients, and the company’s #ComeClean campaign seeks to support legislation requiring cleaning-product manufacturers to disclose their ingredients.
Seventh Generation’s annual revenue has increased by about 60 percent from 2011 to $230 million today.
“At Seventh Generation, we believe that honoring the fundamental right to know is the right thing to do by any measure: It’s good for consumers, good for health and the environment, and good for the strength and credibility of business,” says CEO John Replogle.
Find More Best for the World
Check out the full list of Best for Environment honorees and read about solar-design firm Sungevity, a featured Best for Environment honoree. Dig deeper and explore the full list of 515 honorees on our interactive Best for the World hub. You can also review the full Best for the World criteria and methodology.