With greenwashing now among the most insidious of corporate marketing tactics, it's reassuring to see so many businesses adopting honest strategies for environmental responsibility. Some of our companies focus on energy use in their buildings or supply chain, while others concentrate directly on what's in their products. Timberland (#31), to cite just one example, rates its apparel with a Green Index to determine its environmental impact and includes "nutrition labels" to inform consumers of what's in their shoes (nearly 80 percent of their footwear includes recycled materials). Seventh Generation (#9) aggressively aids employees with conservation efforts in their non-work lives, offering $500 yearly reimbursements to staffers for home upgrades, plus loans of up to $5,000 to reduce their personal carbon output.
One simple but powerful approach to greening: getting commuters out of cars. Quality Bicycle Products (#39) gives its motorless commuters up to $3 a day in credits toward gear. Last year, they paid out $41,000 to staffers who biked, jogged, scooted, and even skied to their Bloomington, Minnesota, offices, where temperatures often dip into single digits during commute hours. Meanwhile, Osprey (#12) and New Belgium Brewing (#2) give employees new bikes after a year on the job.
Rewarding pedal power isn't just pro-environment; it's good for workers. "It begins a process of calibration for the day," says year-round rider Tom Demerly, manager of bike operations at TriSports.com (#50). "We see tangible results in productivity from people who ride."