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This Shopping Season, You Can Consider the Planet and the Companies Who Care
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Every year just in time for the holiday season, Climate Counts prepares a shopping guide to help environmentally-conscious consumers support companies who “get it” in terms of climate change. To make it really convenient, the guide is now available on a free iPhone app as well as online.

These days, a lot of Wall Street based research firms and activist groups rank companies on their environmental performance. For consumers, climate change is often presented in a highly complex way. Companies (including UPS, I admit) typically present their stories about the environment with statistics, technical jargon, and operational minutia that aren’t relatable when it comes to purchasing decisions.

Climate Counts is one of the few non-profits that is earnestly attempting to help consumers who want to take personal action to address climate change through their buying decisions.  Climate Counts is a credible non-profit started by Gary Hirshberg, the co-founder of dairy company Stonyfield Farm, who is well-known as a sustainability pioneer-advocate.

How the Ranking Works

Climate Counts iPhone appCompanies are scored on their initiatives to reduce global warming. The higher the score, Climate Counts says, the greater the company’s commitment to climate leadership. The company uses self-reported sources (sustainability report, website, news, etc.) and information cited by third-parties such as the Carbon Disclosure Project. The shopping guide groups companies in terms of consumer product category: toys and children’s products, apparel, household products, food, even beer. UPS is in consumer shipping.

This year, 145 companies across 16 industry sectors were rated against 22 elements. The criteria fall into four buckets:

  • Review: Is the company taking inventory of their GHG emissions using an industry accepted accounting standard?
  • Reduce: Has the company articulated a strategy for reducing GHG emissions and have they succeeded in achieving actual reductions?
  • Policy stances: Does the company explicitly support the need for comprehensive energy and climate policy or is there evidence they oppose such measures?
  • Disclosure: Does the company communicate their efforts clearly and comprehensively to consumers?

All that’s still pretty complicated and technical, which is why it’s nice to have someone go through all the homework and then grant a grade. Instead, consumers can at- a-glance look at colored icons in the shopping guide. For example, UPS is cited as “soaring” which indicates exceptional leadership; only 15 companies were “soaring.”  Others are listed as “striding”, “starting” or “stuck.”

So if you’re going to the mall these next few weeks, download the shopping guide. It will do your conscience good – and the planet.  Companies that do their best to address their environmental impact will be grateful.

Category: Community, Environment, Helpful Tips and Ideas, Sustainability
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