SustainableBusiness.com goes through the process of selecting 20 top publicly traded companies each year. The goal is to showcase companies that have either made substantial progress toward driving sustainability through their business or are leading the way with a technology that can make a significant difference. Here’s this year’s winners.
In the wake of corporate scandals at Enron and elsewhere, stock market investors are becoming increasingly aware of the power of voting their "proxies." Anyone who owns a single share of stock in a publicly traded company can weigh in on a variety of resolutions on corporate governance and social and environmental issues. Proxy voting is an increasingly important tool to nudge companies toward cleaner and greener behavior.
While financial advisors have been around about as long as money itself, a new breed of so-called “green”practitioners is focusing on helping clients grow their personal nest eggs while contributing to the achievement of larger social and environmental goals.
The one-two punch doled out by Katrina and then Hurricane Rita literally wiped out thousands of promising small businesses—and the jobs that went with them—all the way from Texas to Alabama. Several socially responsible community investment projects are helping shoulder the daunting burden of getting the local economy back on its feet.
While the concept of screening bad corporate actors out of socially responsible investment (SRI) funds dates back to the early 1970s, the latest tactic involves actually investing in companies with spotty track records in order to affect change from within via “insider” tactics.
For environmentalists interested in socially conscious investing, blogs are becoming a can"t-miss source of opinion, commentary and information. Whether you want to choose stocks, follow the latest environmental invention, file a shareholder resolution or just keep up with environmental news and trends, there is no doubt that blogs are worth tracking. The trick is finding the good ones.
Turning off unused lights, insulating your house and buying energy-efficient appliances are all great ways to save energy, which decreases air pollution and saves you money in the process. And if everyone were truly conservation-minded, we would save thousands of megawatt-hours of electricity every day. But now you can go a step further, and without buying any equipment or making any changes to your house you can purchase clean energy from non-polluting sources (you’ve got to keep your soymilk cold somehow). The problem is, not many people are choosing "green power," though it’s available in every state.
Not long ago, the idea of a corporate "environmental report" was a glossy brochure featuring a duck-filled lake, a tree-filled forest, and a bunch of smiling kids playing on the beach. If the company was really brave, it might picture its factory–but always around nature’s finest.
One way credit card companies are working to attract customers is to offer affinity programs, in which cards are branded with the logo or name of an organization. The organization gains name recognition and donations while the credit card company or bank gains customers and member lists. "The program has no cons for us; we get a lump sum of a half a percentage point of all purchases made with the card," explains Fred Brandon of The Wilderness Society about his group’s affinity card program.
A mere four years ago, fuel-cell stocks were the toast of NASDAQ, with millions of individual and institutional investors driving share prices through the roof. But cut to the present and Ballard’s stock is down from an all-time high of $140 per share in 2001 to just $6 and change these days.