Four environmental businesses that are changing the world for the better

  • Published on May 22nd, 2020

Many companies have felt the pressure over the past few years to go green – but some US corporations have made it their mission to help our planet and are making huge changes to our world.

4Ocean cleaning plastic trash from the high seas

By Emily Folk

New studies come out frequently regarding how individuals impact the Earth. People throw away cans, plastics and waste that end up in agricultural areas or the ocean. It harms both people and animals, but declining straws at a restaurant isn’t the only thing that can be done to help the planet.

Companies of all sizes must adopt sustainable business practices as well. The larger they are, the more they damage the world with their carbon footprint. Over the last decade, public pressure has caused corporations and brands to reassess how they operate and where they can improve.

Read on to learn about four environmental companies changing the world. Their efforts help in the fight to make sustainability accessible and affordable for everyone. Each initiative, mission statement and product improves the world one person at a time.

1. IDE Technologies

In modern society, it’s hard to imagine not having access to clean drinking water wherever you are, but that all depends on where you live. Many people still don’t have a reliable source of healthy water, which is a problem IDE Technologies hopes to end.

The company has created an engineered process to transform salt water into fresh water, so people can find something to drink even if they’re far away from rivers and streams. Desalination technologies have changed how people view water filtration, but only a company the size of IDE Technologies could get that advancement to more impoverished regions of the world.

With more than 400 water treatment plants across 40 countries, IDE Technologies produces more clean water than any other company in the world. Places like Isreal and the Middle East often experience droughts, but no longer suffer from them nearly as much because IDE Technologies converts unpotable water through reverse osmosis.

The water from these plants is cheaper as well. It costs nearly 55 cents for each cubic meter of freshwater in the Middle East, when it can rise as high as $3 in other countries that use similar technology. Every time the company opens another plant or installs new machinery, it weights the environmental impact.

Another critical feature to note is the company’s use of chemical-free processes. Other countries need chemicals to filter water, but IDE Technologies uses biological filters to remove waste, bacteria and algae.

2. Organic Valley

The dairy industry isn’t typically mentioned in positive terms when it comes to the environment. Mass production of cows and milk leads to soil and water contamination, plus increased greenhouse gases from all the biological waste.

Although many companies still struggle to make the change to sustainable farming and production, Organic Valley has become a leader in the fight. It challenges the notion that the dairy industry can’t be carbon positive or energy efficient. It all depends on how companies train their farmers and the resources they provide.

The mega-brand works with small farmers and gives them complete control over their farms. To help them succeed, Organic Valley connects them with solar energy resources and windmills so every farm has energy alternatives.

There’s also the Climate-Smart Farming (CSF) initiative to consider, which strives to make Organic Valley farms carbon neutral or positive. Farmers have a timeline to follow with steps in place so they reduce 40% of carbon emissions by 2030, with some steps in the plan extending well into the future. A California law inspired the major move along with the company’s sustainable goals.

With solid plans to take the company into a greener future, Organic Valley has made its mark on the dairy industry as one of the leaders in sustainability. It’s helping small farms join the fight to help the planet, without putting the responsibility entirely on the shoulders of the farmers themselves.

3. 4Ocean Company

Ocean pollution may be one of the most well-known threats facing the Earth because it’s one of the biggest. Every year, people around the world produce over 10 million tons of plastic that end up in the ocean. It harms wildlife and impacts creatures farther up the food chain.

4Ocean aims to stop how much harm that plastic does. It forms teams of people passionate about sustainability to clean coastlines and oceans while also preventing the inflow of waste. These actions keep both saltwater and freshwater clean, along with educational efforts to inform the public.

The hard work started when the company began in 2015, so by the end of 2018, the worldwide teams had removed a million pounds of waste from oceans in Haiti, Bali, Florida and other locations.

To reach more people, 4Ocean connects with communities. The company has partnered with businesses like delivery services and aquariums so sustainability reaches the general public. It also announced support for 1% for the Planet, which is an organization that inspires individuals and businesses to find environmental solutions in their work and private lives.

4Ocean continues to discover more ways to introduce sustainability to people and clean the oceans at the same time. It’s a major multi-front approach to the oceanic havoc wreaked by waste all over the world.

4. First Solar

Most people know about solar panels, but don’t use them in their daily lives. They may think they’re too expensive to install or not worth the time, but First Solar wants to change that.

It made its mark on the world when it began producing durable thin-film panels, compared to traditional ones made with crystalline silicon. Thin-film technology already existed in smaller devices like calculators, but transforming them into full-sized solar panels made green energy easier for people and companies to access.

First Solar works hard to produce one panel per second and eliminate the fossil fuel industry. The differently sourced materials in each panel make them cheaper for people to buy or invest in.

Since the company started, it has powered over 2 million homes through individual panel sales and large energy farms. As more people become familiar with the budget-friendly pricing and reliable service, a greener future gets closer for people who would otherwise have to use fossil fuels.

First Solar is one of many companies making and selling panels like these, but it’s one of the first to make solar energy competitive. It may seem like a small step to some, but it’s a huge accomplishment in making sustainability available to more than the wealthy elite.

Get Inspired

Whether you’re looking for different companies to support or you want to find out what other brands are doing to help the world, get inspired by the positive change from these four enterprises. With a little innovation, a greener world is within reach.

(Originally appeared at the Ecologist.)

About the Author

Emily Folk is passionate about environmental sustainability, green technology and conservation. She is the creator of Conservation Folks, where she blogs about practical tips for helping tomorrow's world today.