• Hannah Smith

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint like a Fortune 500

For more than a few years now, there’s been quite a lot of talk surrounding climate change, greenhouse gasses, and what we can do to help stem or reverse the effects of climate change on the environment. We’ve run the gamut of ways to help— from recycling to banning plastic straws and single-use bags, to some states offering incentives for their residents to move towards renewable energy sources such as solar or wind energy.

As the conversation around climate change has grown, so has the list of companies who have pledged to reevaluate their current practices, and pledge to either drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions/carbon footprint or eliminate them altogether.

Greenhouse gasses are defined as “any of various gaseous compounds (such as carbon dioxide or methane) that absorb infrared radiation, trap heat in the atmosphere, and contribute to the greenhouse effect.” Along with directly contributing to global warming, greenhouse gases can cause smog, air pollution, extreme weather, and wildfires.

A few notable companies who have taken steps to reduce their carbon footprint (total greenhouse gases that have been emitted) include:

  • Walmart

  • IKEA

  • REI

  • Google

  • Shake Shack

The methods these companies have chosen to cut back their carbon footprint are varied but are all viable ways to help combat climate change and its myriad effects.

The first way to reduce a company's carbon footprint is to commit to using renewable energy for their office/retail spaces. Two popular ways to access this clean energy are through solar panels, or through wind energy generated by wind farms. Currently, Walmart has the goal of being powered at least 50% renewable energy by 2025, and Google currently uses 100% renewable energy for their global operation, utilizing a combination of both wind and solar energy (purchased from a wind farm/solar farm, you don’t necessarily have to have solar panels on your building in order to take advantage of solar power.)

Another way is to sustainably or locally source materials, as doing so cuts down on the emissions created when products are shipped from their terminus to their destination, or on the emissions related to product sourcing/creation. Global furniture brand IKEA decreased their climate footprint in recent years, while actually maintaining business growth. The company says they were able to achieve this through “a large increase of renewable energy in the production of IKEA products plus significant increases in the energy efficiency of the lighting and appliances range.” 91% of wood used for IKEA products is now made from recycled wood, and 59% of the polyester used in their textiles is recycled.

As showcased by the aforementioned examples, there is no single “right way” for a company to cut back on its emissions or its carbon footprint. The important thing is that they continually evaluate their companies on the basis of their carbon footprint, and continue to innovate in a way that will benefit the planet and all those who live on it.