Big Businesses Making a Big Difference


Big Businesses Making a Big Difference

Green retailers Green Retailers

Instead of feeling guilty about going mainstream, take advantage of those rare corporations committed to making a difference. Here are some big businesses that take environmental sustainability seriously.

These days it feels like there’s a new specialty boutique popping up on every corner. And while they’re great for those times when you just want to buy a handcrafted and ethically-sourced rock garden or upcycled jewelry for your pet gerbil, sometimes they just don’t make the cut. But instead of feeling guilty about going mainstream, take advantage of those rare corporations committed to making a difference.

Here are some big businesses that take environmental sustainability seriously, for those (rare) moments when you need more than organic heirloom popcorn kernels.



REI is a leader in the green retail movement and sustainability is at the core of its mission. Their goal is to become a climate-neutral and zero waste-to-landfill company by 2020. They’re also finding creative ways to reduce their carbon footprint, including studying the travel habits of their employees to figure out how to reduce car commuting. 26 REI locations are equipped with solar panels and they’ve replaced the incandescent light bulbs at all of their retail stores with more efficient and longer-lasting lights.


REI solar panels



Building Ikea furniture can be seriously stress-inducing, but at least now you can take comfort in the fact that you’re supporting a company committed to environmental sustainability and energy-saving initiatives. Ikea’s entire lighting range is energy efficient and uses up to 85% less energy than incandescent bulbs. Since 2009, Ikea has invested over $1 billion in wind and solar energy, including 314 offsite wind turbines and almost 700,000 solar panels on Ikea buildings. Ikea is also committed to using only sustainable cotton and wood in their products. They practice responsible forestry and have banned all wood from High Conservation Value Forests. They’re also working with the World Wildlife Fund to combat illegal logging and promote responsible timber trading. Building that hemnes dresser doesn’t sound quite so bad anymore, right?


Ikea recycled furniture



Through Nike’s Better World initiative, the company engages in a variety of socially responsible and eco-friendly practices. Nike melts plastic water bottles into strands of polyester, which is then woven into premium fabric. An average of 14 water bottles go into one high performance jersey. So far, thanks to Nike, over 2 billion water bottles have been diverted from landfills and made into quality athletic gear instead. Through Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program, worn-out shoes are shredded and transformed into surfaces like astro-turf, running tracks, and outdoor courts. To date, surfaces made using reused shoes cover about 632 million square feet.


nike recycled shoes



Levi’s is committed to saving water and reusing it throughout the garment finishing process. Their Well Thread line of jeans is made using 65% less water than conventionally-dyed fabric, and to date, they’ve saved over 1 billion liters of water. Levi’s also established the Worker Well-Being Initiative in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Egypt, Haiti and Pakistan. Through this initiative, Levi’s collaborates with suppliers to integrate well-being programs into their business operations, to not only “do no harm,” but also improve the lives of apparel workers.


Levi's sustainable jeans



Lego doesn’t just make awesome toys for kids (and adults!), they’re also committed to creating a positive impact on the environment by reducing emissions and improving the company’s overall energy efficiency. In 2013, they became a World Wildlife Fund Climate Savers Partner. With WWF, they’ve set targets to reduce climate change and their carbon footprint. Lego’s current goal is to reduce their own carbon emissions and be balanced by 100% renewable energy by 2020. While they’re working to achieve this goal, they’ve invested in an offshore wind farm to produce renewable energy and offset their own global energy use.