The issue of water pollution and contamination has made headlines often in recent months. With the disaster of Flint, Michigan and the controversy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline, it’s obvious there is a great deal of work to be done reducing and eliminating the amount of wastewater and pollutants that companies both large and small produce.
That being said, there are some companies that are getting it right — and being economically successful at the same time. Surprisingly, though, the leaders committed to green business and clean water are in fact smaller companies and corporations. A 2014 poll found that the largest advocates and supporters for stricter water regulations were small businesses — some 80% of those surveyed favored the new EPA regulations increasing protection on water supplies.
Here are four companies that illustrate how easy and profitable it can be to be committed to sustainable business and protecting our resources:
One of the leading social enterprises in the United States, TOMS began its mission by providing one pair of shoes to those in need for each pair purchased. The success was exponential, and they have since expanded into other areas, including accessibility to clean drinking water.
All you simply have to do is purchase a bag of their ethically grown coffee, and you provide a week’s worth of safe drinking water — which is a huge issue around the globe — to someone in need.
The company concept is truly a beautiful one, and not to mention the shoes are some of the most comfortable you can own. It’s a win-win.
2. Nolan Painting
A Philadelphia-based business, Nolan Painting is committed to sustainable business practices, such as donating leftover supplies to schools and other organizations as well as using renewable energy sources.
They are also advocates for environmentally-friendly paint disposal, encouraging others to make sure paint and other substances with toxic chemicals don’t end up in the area’s rivers. Advocacy is probably one of the fundamental methods in growing awareness and use of sustainable business practices.
3. Falcon Waterfree Technologies
Clean water isn’t just about pollution, either. It’s also about cutting down on water use, especially in lieu of recent water shortages in California and the Southeast states. It is easy to forget that fresh water is not an endless resource, but in the coming decades, technologies that cut down on water use and increase efficiency will be vital in making sure there is accessible drinking water to all.
This company produces a waterless urinal that has a cartridge to capture the sewer gases, and they boast that their product has helped save some 20 billion gallons of water over the course of their existence.
4. New Belgium Brewing
Who doesn’t love a good craft beer? Most people do, and this company takes their brewing practices in relationship to sustainability very seriously.
They are committed to transparency in the material acquisition and processes, and they constantly monitor all of their energy emissions and waste production — most of which is composted, recycled and filtered. It’s pretty inspiring and could be a useful blueprint for some of those larger corporations to think about implementing.
What Can Larger Corporations Learn From Smaller Companies?
It is a bit difficult to understand why larger corporations with more resources don’t jump on the latest sustainability technologies and practices. GE, for example, is still owning up to decades of pollution of the Hudson River, and they now face the task of working through a seven-year dredging campaign to fix the damage that was done.
Skeptics doubt their efforts, but if they take cues from companies devoted to zero waste like New Belgium Brewing, for instance, the possibility to reverse the damage is attainable.
However, perhaps one of the most surprising organizations in the United States to not be practicing sustainability the Department of Defense. This government-run agency accounts for 10% of all superfund sites — 141 to be exact. These are areas of land in the United States that are allowed to use special clean-up grants from the government.
Of all entities, the government should step in and become an example and an advocate much like the companies discussed above have done — rather than being a contributor to the world’s pollution.
Going Green Is Profitable
The most interesting aspect from this perspective is that responsible business practice is profitable. Time and time again, research has found that the method of doing green business is more profitable that non-sustainable operations, and it’s better for people and the environment. The businesses have a greater longevity, and they encourage synergistic relationships with the planet and local society.
The bottom line doesn’t always have to come down to the dollar bill, either. In fact, if more companies took cues from the smaller ones that are already integrating sustainable practices into their operations, they would likely see greater profits on multiple fronts, from employee satisfaction to public image — and at the same time, they’d be securing a healthier planet for the next generation.
In a way, it almost seems like a no-brainer — and one these larger companies will hopefully see soon, joining the smaller champions committed to clean water and a more sustainable planet.