10 eco-friendly retailers
These retailers go the extra mile by selling eco-products and taking steps to green operations. Shopping 'til you drop just got a lot friendlier for the planet.
Thu, Feb 04, 2010 at 06:24 AM
BUY, BUY, BUY: Shop 'til you drop with green retailers. (Photo: patty_c/iStockphoto)
REI’s sustainable outdoor products come with ecoSensitive™ labels that help consumers easily track items made from a high percentage of recycled, rapidly renewable and/or organic fibers. About one-fourth of all REI locations are supplied by green energy, six of its buildings are LEED-certified and REI’s employees are encouraged to be green with biking and public transportation incentives. Plus, REI has big plans to become both climate neutral and a zero-waste-to-landfill company by 2020 through emission cuts, green energy and carbon offsets.
Having coined the term LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability), GAIAM has long been a leader in providing green lifestyle solutions. GAIAM specializes in fitness products, certified organic cotton/natural fiber bedding and apparel, renewable energy solutions, eco-gadgets and household items that help consumers reduce their environmental impact, save money and increase efficiency. In 2006, GAIAM partnered with The Conservation Fund to launch the world’s first “Go Zero®” sustainable shipping program, which allows online customers to offset their package delivery emissions through donations to tree planting projects.
Outdoor retailer Patagonia’s green credentials include an entirely organic cotton clothing line, product transparency through its product impact tracking tool, The Footprint Chronicles, and a recycling program that takes worn-out Patagonia products and recycles them anew. Patagonia’s catalogs use FSC-certified recycled paper, its California headquarters houses solar panels and, through the company’s environmental campaign, Freedom To Roam, Patagonia has donated more than $35 million toward helping to create, restore and protect wildlife corridors.
This urban outdoor apparel company based in Portland, Ore., specializes in clothing made from sustainable and durable fabrics such as recycled polyester and organic cotton. NAU products are shipped in envelopes made from up to 50 percent post-consumer recycled content, which cuts emissions, waste and fossil fuel use, and it donates 2 percent of every sale to humanitarian and environmental groups through Partners for Change.
Nau plans to purchase carbon credits that offset corporate travel and shipping emissions, and it currently provides employees with free public transit.
Forget odd-smelling bars of “eco” soap. LUSH, a high-quality 100 percent vegetarian bath and body care retailer loads its products with great-smelling natural ingredients that contain little to no preservatives, forgoes fancy packaging for 70 percent of its products and has switched to 100 percent post-consumer recycled containers for the rest. Plus, 100 percent of the retail price of LUSH’s Charity Pot, a luxurious hand and body cream, goes directly toward supporting animal rights, environmental protection and humanitarian concerns.
Outdoor wear company Timberland’s Green Index™ rating allows customers a clear view of the company’s environmental footprint, from boots to sandals, many of which contain recycled content. Plus, many Timberland products carry both nutrition labels and product icons to show their climate impact, chemical use and resource consumption. Timberland also has reduced its direct carbon emissions by 27 percent since 2006, planted more than 1 million trees and has plans to become carbon neutral by 2010 for the facilities it owns and operates and for employee travel.
All products sold at Green Depot, a leading source for sustainable building solutions, must pass through a filter that evaluates their health, durability, performance, life cycle, natural resource conservation and energy conservation. In addition, each product contains icons that break down the product’s green factor into five easy-to-understand categories. Plus, The Green Depot’s Bowery location in Manhattan is on track to be platinum LEED-certified, the Brooklyn, N.Y., showroom roof features solar panels and the company has sustainable purchasing guidelines for the back office operations.
American Apparel provides customers with nontoxic versions of its most popular styles with its 100 percent organic collection. It also supports the Cleaner Cotton Campaign, which buys California cotton that uses fewer chemicals and non-GM seed. On the business end, American Apparel’s downtown L.A. factory houses solar panels and contains retrofitted light fixtures to help save more than 1 million kilowatt hours of energy each year, and it cuts down on waste by donating and recycling its excess materials. To encourage a more sustainable workforce, the company lends out bikes and provides employees with subsidized bus passes.
When it comes to environmental responsibility, Nike’s mantra is clearly “Just do it.” While steadily expanding its 100 percent organic cotton line, Nike’s overall goal is to blend a minimum of 5 percent organic cotton into all of its cotton-containing apparel materials. Through its Reuse-a-Shoe program, the company has recycled more than 23 million pairs of athletic shoes that have been made into more than 300 sport surfaces. In 2007, the World Wildlife Fund recognized Nike for leadership in climate change by reducing its annual CO2 emissions to 18 percent below its 1998 levels.
We know what you’re thinking. Every greenie loves to hate Walmart. But the retail giant has been making huge strides in providing average people with eco-friendly options by filling its more than 8,000 retail stores worldwide with green living items like Energy Star appliances, non-toxic cookware and organic-certified groceries. Most notably, Walmart recently announced it plans to work with other retailers and suppliers to help create a worldwide sustainability index that drives supplier transparency and ultimately allows customers to assess their products’ environmental impact.
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