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Can the private sector save the world? Part III

The private sector mixed record

Private sector support of green/environmental initiatives

The Private Sector has a mixed record of support for green/environmental initiatives, with dramatic variations from industry to industry… For example, carbon-based energy providers, especially those associated with eco catastrophes, like British Petroleum, have invested heavily in media damage control campaigns. The same is true of chemical industry giants Monsanto and Dow. It’s not surprising that research reveals corporations like these, whose profits and stock prices may be adversely affected by ‘inappropriate’ clean environment policies, do not act upon their public promises. In fact, they actively work behind the scenes against reforms with armies of lobbyists who wield enormous influence on the U.S. political process.

Tech corporations

By comparison, Tech corporations are largely supportive of green initiatives, for the most part, because this strategy is consistent both with their business models and brand images. Here are some examples

Starbucks has adopted green supply chain management that incorporates Fair Trade Certified organic coffee and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification for their new outlets. This means, for example, that they keep store temperatures at 75F instead of the conventional 72F; that new cabinetry is ‘post industrial’ and all water valves are low-flow.


eBay Promotes the exchange and reuse of goods throughout the world. This includes the buying and selling of used household items, large and small, within local communities, which eliminates the need for shipping and packaging. In addition, the USPS has collaborated with eBay to create environmentally friendly Priority Mail packaging.


Marriott was the first major hotel chain to create a carbon footprint baseline against which to measure improvements in energy efficiency, water conservation and preservation of forestlands. This includes the implementation of Energy and Environmental Action (EEAP) plans and a best-practice energy and water use reduction-auditing tool. Marriott has partnered with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) and the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), to build green hotels. The company’s leadership estimates that they will recover their initial investment on these programs within the next 2+ years.


Google initiatives have included green supply management practices, renewable energy power sources, even having goats trim the grass. I wish my neighborhood zoning permitted goats!

In the next and final article in this series, I’ll look at the comparatively more promising global and U.S.-based private sector investment in infrastructure.


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