The Plenty 20


From small start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, they're pushing the eco envelope and changing the world.


By Danielle Wood


Illustration by Matthew Bandsuch

9: Domini
New York City
Do you support deforestation? Child labor? Companies that pollute? Maybe not consciously, but your investments in mutual funds may sustain these very activities without your knowledge. At Domini, analysts don’t just look at the financial performance of the companies they invest in, they take social and environmental factors into account as well. Armed with $1.8 billion in assets, Domini has filed more than 140 shareholder resolutions with more than 60 corporations, actively engaging high-level management on issues ranging from product safety and sweatshop labor to climate change. The company has talked to Coca-Cola about human rights; coached the computer giant Dell on energy conservation; and convinced J.P. Morgan Chase, a $1.1 trillion bank, to adopt a comprehensive environmental policy.

10: Toyota
Torrance, California
When greenies hear “Toyota,” they think of the company’s popular Prius hybrid. But Toyota has more to boast about than this: Both its other hybrids­ (the Highlander, the Camry, and the Lexus RX400h) and its wider eco initiatives.

The auto-maker made environmental stewardship a key component of its business when it established its first Earth Charter, a statement of environmental responsibility, back in 1992. In 2006, Toyota put nearly nine million fuel-efficient vehicles on American roads and recycled 500,000 pounds of materials, including plastic wrap, solvents, and even engine blocks. From steel and urethane foam to plastic bumpers, 85 percent of a Toyota vehicle needs never hit the landfill—any dealer trade-in that’s not resold is recycled by the company. The new parts are also delivered to dealerships in returnable packaging, eliminating the need for the wood pallets and cardboard boxes they usually arrive in. And despite the company’s growth over the past several years, its overall disposal of waste has declined by 86 percent. Rumor also has it that Toyota may have an all-electric Prius on dealer floors by late 2008.

11: Whole Foods
Austin, Texas
Whole Foods opened its first store in 1980, when “natural foods” were barely a blip on the culinary radar. It’s now the largest natural and organic food superpower in the world, with 189 stores and revenue of $5.6 billion in its last fiscal year.

Not content to ride on this reputation, in 2006 the company made the largest renewable-energy credit purchase in U.S. history, becoming the only Fortune 500 business to offset all of its electricity usage. For every light flicked on in the produce department and every oven fired up to bake organic-grain breads, Whole Foods will invest in wind technology. That’s 458,000 megawatt-hours of clean power every year—the equivalent of planting 90,000 acres of trees, or yanking 60,000 cars off the road.

Some Whole Foods stores are making even more direct commitments to renewable energy. The Northwest locations are already run entirely by wind power, while the Berkeley, California, store powers its lights primarily with solar energy. In 2006, the EPA recognized the company as a “Green Power Partner” for all its investments in clean energy.

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Comments

Whoa! Unjournalist conduct! Dr. Berzin, et.al., didn't discover algal technology -- their work is based on the achievements of the (atrociously underfunded) Aquatic Species Program, 1978-1996, Department of Energy, U.S.A. -- and they would be the first ones to give credit where it's due. Ignoring the opposition to this development is a sure-fire formula for failure.

solar power

About Konarka.. the company is named after the famous ancient Hindu temple of the Sun. Also, 3 of the 4 founding scientists appear to be Indian-born. But they are nowhere to be seen in any news about the company. Wonder what happened to them? Did the current management team treat them fairly? It's odd that not one of the 3 is on the board. Hmmm....

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