While green manufacturers have been pocketing profits on the strength of energy efficiencies and good waste materials management that have them laughing all the way to the bank, I've noticed another byproduct of all that green-doing.
Somewhere along the road to greener pastures, manufacturers doing green become moved to doing good beyond the walls of their facilities. With a heaping ladle of green works comes a heaping ladle of good will and generosity. Simply put, green-doers become do-gooders.
Food Banks Bank on Green Manufacturers
Food banks, it seems, are reaping the benefits of manufacturers' green practices most frequently.
They have been the beneficiaries of reusable packaging, excess storage space, food, and even excess energy. In the course of interviewing manufacturers for this magazine, I've lost count of all of those that have donated something to their local food banks.
Cardboard Boxes. When Sherwin-Williams' Portland Purdy site (see "Zero landfill underscores zero-VOC achievement," p. 16) sought to achieve zero-landfill status, one of the first waste streams it tightened in its goal to completely divert waste from landfills was cardboard boxes. The company had been recycling the boxes to a fair extent.
Then it began to look for reuse outlets, because reusing the boxes is even more environmentally friendly than recycling them. The company began giving them away for reuse by its local food bank. The food bank was happy to take the boxes to fill with food. Win-win.
Funds for Food. WhiteWave Foods is the producer of Silk® soy milk, Horizon Organic® milk, and International Delight® creamers (see "LED lighting retrofit is organic for ecoresponsible food producer," March/April issue, p. 28).
All White Wave employees participate in a friendly competition among facilities to see who can raise the most money for a local food bank with a week-long series of fundraising events. The employees' donations are matched by the company.
"Drawing a connection between what we value and what we do is essential to our success," the company states.
Phone for Food. Hawaiian Telcom Yellow Pages partnered with its local Hawaii Food Bank to host a community food drive. It distributed its phone books in recyclable directory delivery bags and encouraged the community to fill the bags with nonperishable food items to donate to the food bank.
Buddy, Can You Spare a Warehouse and Some Electricity?
After having a 910-kW rooftop solar energy system installed on one of his facilities, Bob Mehmet, president and CEO of Philadelphia Sign Co., had an enviable problem. He had to figure out what do with the excess power the solar array generates beyond the 650,000-W limit he can send to his power company (see "Net zero energy electrifies sign-maker," January/February issue, p. 14).
Rather than shut off one of the inverters or purposely waste the electricity, Mehmet settled on a third, optimal alternative: He offered to let the Food Bank of South Jersey set up at the facility and use its electricity.
Then Mehmet found that the food bank had a dire need for dry goods storage. "We have an extra warehouse here that we weren't using, and our electricity for lighting is basically free, so we're storing food for the food bank at no cost."
Good, Green Deeds Done Dirt-Cheap
Of course, another plausible theory for all that bounty-sharing is that the kind of people who are kind to the planet are just plain kind.
Mehmet shied away from sounding like a good guy for helping the food bank—even though he is. "We had a need. We had more power than we used on the weekends. Then we saw that they [the food bank] had a need and said, 'Maybe this will help both of us.'
"When you're going down a road of doing something like this, it's amazing what you're able to do to help other people, and it helps your company too."