Businesses Improving on Green, But is it Enough?

nike wind powered belgium Businesses Improving on Green, But is it Enough?

The short answer is no. But there are some promising signs. The first is Nike’s commitment to being “climate neutral” by 2015, and it has already started Just Doing It with its totally wind-powered distribution facility in Belgium (they haven’t said anything about making swoosh clogs, however). Enterprise Rent-A-Car is joining the game by greening their fleet, providing hybrid and electric options and investing heavily in alternative fuels, and Green Mountain Power reports using only 2% carbon-emitting fuels.

The works of these few covers up more serious problems, however. Consistent emission measuring tools do not exist, and even if there were good tools, restrictions vary from country to country (and from state to state). And even if there were standardized restrictions, enforcement is dodgy at best. In short, we’re still stuck in the “voluntary compliance” paradigm that has dominated the last 8 years and brought us the new vocabulary of carbon offset and greenwashing.

We are also at the continued mercy of the open market; by definition, companies must be more concerned with the bottom line than with the greater good. Only the most ethical of us (and usually the most affluent) can afford to buy totally green. Wal-Marts exist for a reason, and the $3 T-shirt is something we all take for granted in the U.S. – despite the damage done by poor working conditions (a human rights issue) and environmental degradation (increased emissions from transporting raw materials and finished products).

How many of us can really afford organic, fair-trade, locally-raised goods? We probably all could, but it would certainly put a damper on the consumerism that has dominated our society since the baby-boomers left the nest. If you don’t want to contribute directly to the problem, you’re short on cash, and still want style, try your local thrift store. That’s what I call buying local.

Then check out the Green Business Report to see which companies to patronize.



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