Sunday, November 18, 2007

Making Green Stick

With all that PR competition to "go green," some companies are just more believable than others. Michael Porter and Mark Kramer write about this in their HBR article "Strategy and Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantages and Corporate Social Responsibility." Great article. In essence, sustainable strategies stick when the green agenda matches the corporate agenda.

Porter and Kramer use both Ford and Toyota as an example of how green strategies do or don't work.

The Toyota Earth Charter calls for Toyota associates around the world to reduce the environmental impact not only for Toyota products but also in every aspect of the business. Toyota South Campus (624,000 sq. ft.) was designed for convenience and flexibility that a green building can provide, as well as Toyota's dedication to a sustainable environment through their Process Green initiative. It has the largest solar power system in the United States and exceeds Title 24 by 25%.

In January of this year Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. announced its Think Green! program, which achieves a high recycling rate and zero waste to landfill at TMS headquarters. Toyota's comprehensive Think Green! program sets an environmental benchmark for the automotive industry.

Companies that talk the most about sustainability aren't always the best at executing. Ford Motor Co. is another case in point. Former CEO William C. Ford Jr. has championed green causes for years. He famously spent $2 billion overhauling the sprawling River Rouge (Mich.) complex, putting on a 10-acre grass roof to capture rainwater. Ford also donated $25 million to Conservation International for an environmental center. But Ford was flat-footed in the area most important to its business: It kept churning out gas-guzzling SUVs and pickups. "Having a green factory was not Ford's core issue. It was fuel economy," says Andrew S. Winston, director of a Yale University corporate environmental strategy project and co-author of the book Green to Gold.

Another example of a company with a green agenda that is "sustainable"? What about Whole Foods? Their logo reads "Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet." Their green model really matches their business model. Here's how:
  • The company's sourcing emphasizes purchases from local farmers through each store’s procurement process (Whole Foods)

  • Their employees are referred to as "team members" with stock in the company; and they were recently listed as number 7 on the Fortune 100 Companies to work for (Whole People)

  • Their commitment to the environment? Their stores are constructed using a minimum of virgin raw materials. Spoiled produce and biodegradable waste are trucked to regional centers for composting. All their vehicles are being converted to run on biofuels. AND... the company purchased renewable wind energy credits equal to 100% of its electricity use in all of its stores and facilities (Whole Planet)

Now I buy that. Other good stories?


Jodi "Millennial 4 Earth" Williams said...

I was watching NFL football yesterday and realized that I have never seen a television ad for a Prius! Although they probably exist, it's pretty powerful that Toyota doesn't have to advertise them very much at all.

BTW, I have a prius and it is an awesome car!

Anonymous said...

I love the Whole Foods thing, but am disappointed that they still sell products that are shipped ridiculous distances: for example, Fiji water in Washington, DC where our tap water is just fine to drink!

Anonymous said...

What? No credit to the original article that you ripped off the Ford piece from? By the way, I'm almost positive that the Business Week article you copied from made up that quote from Andrew Winston. Nice work.

Leigh Stringer (aka Greenette) said...

Thanks Anonymous for your comment about my reference to the "Ford piece." This was a post literally from my first week blogging and I was a little new at protocols for referencing. Totally my bad. I should have used quotes. I have no idea about the Andrew Winston quote being made up.

Anyway, here is the article I pulled this from.

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