Fighting climate change is the need of the hour. Rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption are adversely impacting the planet, which in turn is severely affecting human lives and property. In a huge step towards to tackling this, outdoor apparel retailer Patagonia joined the league of companies fighting against climate change and taking conscious steps in making the Earth a happy and sustainable place to live.
Chouinard gives away Patagonia
Patagonia’s founder and billionaire Yvon Chouinard announced on 14 September that he has given away his entire USD-3-billion company to combat climate change and bring about a positive environmental impact.
Commenting on his climate commitments in an open letter posted on the Patagonia website, Chouinard wrote, “Earth is now our only shareholder,” adding, “As we began to witness the extent of global warming and ecological destruction, and our own contribution to it, Patagonia committed to using our company to change the way business was done.”
However, Chouinard has neither sold the company nor has it gone public. Instead, all the company’s voting shares are transferred to a trust in charge of overlooking its environmental commitments, while the non-voting shares are transferred to a non-profit organisation, which will be devoted to raising awareness and tackling climate change.
The company has introduced a number of measures to fight climate change. From encouraging the purchase of used outdoor gear and closely working with environmental groups to pledge 1 percent of sales towards reforestation and preservation of nature and using durable recycled materials for long-lasting garments, Patagonia has set incredible examples in terms of fighting climate change and its adversities.
However, it is not the first company to take such measures to safeguard the planet. Several others strive to reduce energy consumption, go zero waste, reduce carbon footprint and emissions, maintain a transparent and humane supply chain and opt for more renewable energy sources.
Here are some big corporate players who are working to save the Earth
Google’s parent company is not only known for its ground-breaking innovations and software prowess but is also a champion in combating the climate crisis. In fact, the American tech giant became carbon neutral as early as 2007 and within almost a decade became the first company of such stature to equal its total electricity consumption with renewable energy.
Alphabet seeks to be a pioneer in the global effort toward environmental sustainability and is constantly pushing the envelope in making businesses go green. As part of its climate solutions, the company has over 50 renewable energy projects across the world, which drives “more than USD 7 billion in new construction and thousands of related job,” mentions a Google blog. It also states that the company is the biggest corporate buyer of clean energy.
Nestlé is a food processing company, which has amped up its measures to not only address climate change but also implement some aggressive policies to secure its goals.
Nespresso is a coffee-making unit under Nestlé, which takes sustainability and monitoring its environmental impact very seriously. The Nespresso website states that by the end of 2022, it aims to make every cup of Nespresso coffee absolutely carbon neutral. This implies that the unit has to keep a tally of its carbon emissions and how much of it is removed from the atmosphere.
Single-use plastic packaging contributed heavily to the company’s waste production. Nespresso’s use of recycled aluminium to pack its original and Vertuo coffee ranges is a direct step in cutting down on this.
The unit also has a strong obligation to raise awareness about reforestation. From zero waste and automatic power-off to planting trees and maintaining a healthy supply chain, it has come a long way in championing the cause.
When it comes to adopting sustainable materials, making some minor food and lifestyle changes can go a long way in saving the planet and tackling the climate crisis. Beyond Meat is a plant-based food company, which is targeted at making your burgers and tacos healthy and sustainable without compromising on taste and nutrition.
Their plant-based meats are a product of innovation coupled with non-GMO ingredients and high in protein. Additionally, with no cholesterol, antibiotics and synthetic hormones, these meats have no harmful effects on your body or the Earth. The so-called meat is made of pea protein, coconut oil, canola oil, potato starch and other natural ingredients for finger-licking goodness.
A peer-reviewed Life Cycle Analysis by the University of Michigan in 2018 conducted a comparison between a Beyond Burger and a US beef burger, revealing some interesting facts. A Beyond Burger requires 99 percent less water, 93 percent less land, 46 percent less energy and produces 90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.
Switching over to meat alternatives, ensuring zero food waste and opting for conscious consumer brands are simple yet powerful steps towards sustainable living.
The parent company to consumer brands like Dove, Ben & Jerry’s, Lipton and Breyers, Unilever is guided by the Unilever Compass and their Climate Transition Action Plan to achieve zero emissions in operations by 2030. It also aims to have net zero emissions across the entire value chain by 2039.
Unilever adopted a Sustainable Agricultural Code in 2018 that lays down the best ways to source raw materials from global eco-friendly partners. And, it is interesting to note that the company has reduced its operational Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 64 percent since 2015 and is on the way to achieving its interim goal of reducing it by 70 percent by 2025.
Cutting down plastic waste, using natural resources, opting for cleaning and laundry alternatives devoid of fossil fuels, investing more in the plant-based product sector and raising awareness through demonstrations and programmes are some crucial steps taken by many of Unilever’s brands.
Installing solar panels, procuring sustainable raw materials, maintaining deforestation-free supply chains, using electric vehicles and changing to eco-friendly freezers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are part of Unilever’s bid to reach net zero emissions.
Coming up with solutions to reduce emissions and energy use and making supersonic aviation sustainable with less environmental impact, American airline designer company Boom Supersonic has taken fighting climate change to its core.
Making a pledge to fly green, Boom announced the world’s first carbon-neutral aircraft programme, the XB-1 test program. It will be made carbon neutral by the use of sustainable aviation fuels and carbon offsetting.
In May 2022, the company inked a 10-year deal with Climeworks, a leading carbon dioxide remover through direct air capture. Climeworks will work with Boom Supersonic to remove the latter’s residual carbon emissions and store them underground, enabling it to reach net zero by 2025.
Their best available supersonic aviation fuel (SAF) has 80 percent more lifespan than traditional jet fuel. Counted among the top companies in this sector, it has also successfully tested SAF made from 80 percent waste animal fat on its Boom XB-1 supersonic aircraft.
Every fashion week season, curious fans await new trends to take over the runway. While this may usher in sartorial innovations and trends, fast fashion also has adverse implications on the planet and, in a way, contributes to climate change.
PANGAIA is one of those sustainable fashion retailers that use science and innovative textile designs to combat the climate crisis. The D2C materials science brand uses technology as a major tool to reduce waste and switch to clean energy while making trendy lifestyle products.
Its use of recycled cotton and seaweed fibre to make raw materials is a big step. Recycled cashmere hoodies and track pants, plant-based stretch nylons for activewear, grape-leather sneakers made from repurposed waste, and dyes made from bacteria and fabric waste make every piece of garment a part of nature.
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The company is also on the constant lookout to build an ‘Earth Positive’ business model. Planting over a million trees, protecting natural reserves and working with NGOs to save the environment is another important step taken by the label. At PANGAIA, nature meets tech-driven solutions, and the result is both eco-friendly and purposeful.
For decades, sneaker giant Nike has been among the top companies fighting climate change and advocating sustainability through the use of recycled materials, using environment-friendly dyes and reducing waste and carbon footprint.
In its recent initiative called Bloom Over Doom, Nike strives to achieve net zero and imbibe sustainability in sports and the planet’s future. Collaborations, high standards of production and measures like recycling and donating old worn-out shoes and organising the refurbished sale of gently worn-out shoes at slashed rates characterise this initiative. As part of its “Move To Zero” project, the company aims to slash carbon emissions across the table by 30 percent by 2030.
Its website also states that any Nike garment marked with “Sustainable Materials” comprises at least 55 percent recycled content, while shoes with the same tag have 20 percent recycled content by weight.
Among the pioneering companies in the IT industry, HP has a strong case for fighting climate change. Dedicated to eliminating 75 percent of single-use plastic packaging by 2025 as compared to that of 2018, the company brought an end to the use of plastic ties for power cords and plastic document bags in 2019.
In 2017, HP launched a range of over 300 tech products like laptops and printers, which contained ocean-bound plastic. Extending this measure across all products and reducing plastic waste as much as possible is underway.
Additionally, the company is striving to bring diversity to the work environment and touch lives with its education programmes. HP also releases an annual sustainable impact report which shows the overarching work done and lays down goals to be achieved.
For Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk, fighting climate change is a long-drawn struggle and something which is the call of the hour. One of the biggest companies in the automobile sector, Tesla is the first one to produce over a million electric vehicles.
While several of the Tesla factories are powered by renewable energy, the company has also invested in a Supercharger network for a cleaner way to charge its electric vehicles. The automobile maker is also working to extend it to non-Tesla cars.
It is no secret that Musk has a strong influence over the crypto world. However, in an attempt at reducing energy consumption, he announced that Tesla will not accept any payment in Bitcoin in May 2021.
Every Tesla car bears a sustainable design that puts a cap on waste, water usage and energy consumption. Additionally, the factory roofs are lined with solar panels, the majority of which are installed on Gigafactory Nevada, Gigafactory New York and manufacturing facilities in California. Tesla also takes special note to minimise the travelling distance between heavy vehicle parts to keep manufacturing units closer.
Going beyond business, Tesla has also helped to tackle the effects of climate change by lending a helping hand in times of forest fires and hurricanes throughout 2018 and 2019, as it delivered solar power to critical infrastructure sites.
(Main and feature image credit: Markus Spiske/ @markusspiske/ Unsplash)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: The outdoor gear and apparel company has made long-term efforts toward tackling climate change. Even before its founder Yvon Chouinard gave away the whole company to fight the cause, Patagonia had pledged 1 percent of sales to reforestation and nature conservation. Using recycled durable materials, working with environmental groups and encouraging people to buy used gears are some of the things that Patagonia does to save the planet.
Answer: While Chouinard’s decision to give the company away sets an incredible precedent with regard to saving the planet, media reports suggest that the move also points to huge tax evasion advantages. A 'Washington Post' report, citing a Bloomberg analysis, states, “The deal’s structure puts Mr Chouinard in a position to save an estimated $700 million in federal capital gains taxes had he sold the $3 billion outdoor gear-and-apparel giant, as well as allowing his heirs to avoid estate and gift taxes while keeping his family in control of the company.”
Answer: Big corporate players and companies can do their own bit to save the environment and make the world a happy and healthy playground. Reducing carbon emissions, switching over to renewable energy sources, minimising water usage, and using recycled plastic and natural raw materials are some basic steps that they can begin with. Maintaining a clean and transparent supply chain, investing in reforestation programmes, and collaborating with environmental NGOs can also help give back to society and nature, and help companies build a greener business model.
Answer: Big companies across the world like Alphabet, Microsoft, Tesla, Beyond Meat, Nike and Boom Supersonic are working hard to establish sustainability guidelines and save the planet.