Top Green Businesses in the Market Today

Top Green Businesses in the Market Today

by Heleigh Bostwick, December 2009

Are you a traditional business that wants to become "greener"? How about a small green business operation that aspires to be the next Whole Foods or Seventh Generation? If so, there's no better way to learn than by example.

The definition of a green business is broad, encompassing everything from eco-tourism to selling recycled and sustainable products and purchasing energy from or investing in a renewable source such as wind power. Incorporating green policies and initiatives into a company's corporate philosophy is yet another way to make a business "green". And then of course there are businesses that have gone carbon neutral perhaps the "greenest" business practice there is today. With so many businesses aspiring to go green these days, here's a quick look at some of the top green businesses in the market today and what they are doing to get that way.


In 2006, the British airline Silverjet became the first airline in the world to become carbon neutral on every flight. The price of each ticket includes a contribution toward carbon offset points, which customers can use to reinvest in projects such as wind power generation that neutralize greenhouse gas emissions. Silverjet's claim to fame is that it offers a low-priced business class fare for transatlantic flights.


Yahoo! Announced recently that it will become carbon neutral by the end of 2007. They began the journey to carbon neutral in 2005 and spent a year collecting data on their carbon footprint. Yahoo!, a global internet service company, will focus on implementing reduce, reuse, and recycle policies to reduce emissions and invest in emerging clean energy technologies such as hydroelectric projects and wind farms in third world countries.

Marks & Spencer

The giant UK retailer has also announced it will go carbon neutral with a 5-year, $400 million (200GPB) "eco-plan"—the equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road every year. Several of the largest initiatives include using food grown locally in the UK, rather than imported from other countries, converting food waste to energy, and selling clothing made from fair trade cotton and polyester made from recycled plastic bottles.


For the fourth straight year, the Honda Motor Co. was named the greenest automaker by the Union of Concerned Scientists, edging out Toyota yet again. The decision was based on the fact that Honda uses clean technologies across the board to significantly reduce emissions that contribute to global warming including nitrous oxides, which undergo a chemical reaction with sunlight to form smog in the atmosphere.

Safeway, Inc.

Safeway's efforts at shrinking their carbon footprint have firmly established them as one of the greenest companies in the country—number 21 on the US Environmental Protection Agency's list in fact--primarily for their initiative in developing renewable energy sources. The giant supermarket retailer has also made significant strides in bringing organic foods to the grocery store aisles, as well as recycling waste materials into compost, which it donates to local community garden projects.


Dubbed the "greenest" bank, HBSC became carbon neutral in early 2006, two years after making a commitment to do so. Because it has offices worldwide, employees spend a lot of time engaging in air travel, which resulted in 771,630 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2006 alone. In addition to making their office buildings as energy efficient as possible, HSBC offsets their emissions by investing in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions such a project in Germany that converts pig and cow manure into electricity.

Sun Microsystems

Disposing of E-waste or electronic waste is an enormous problem today and recycling nearly 100% of returned products in California is just one of the ways that Sun Microsystems has risen to the top of the list of green companies. While it hasn't gone carbon neutral yet, it has taken on a number of initiatives to reduce emissions such as allowing 55% of its employees to telecommute and promising to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. It's also taking responsibility for conserving energy, designing server processors that are among the most efficient on the planet.