Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Stir it up on Earth Day

For Earth Day I thought I'd share the very inspiring story of Stonyfield farms - the organic yoghurt people from New Hampshire. This video was shot last year while Gary Hirschberg, Stonyfield’s CE-YO was on tour with his book "Stirring it up". His mission is to raise awareness of how both companies and individuals can save the planet by reducing their carbon footprint.

In 2008 Stonyfield enjoyed sales of over $300 million and compounded annual growth of 26.3% over 14 years – in a category that only grows between 3-5% annually. Gary Hirschberg believes that this growth is due to Stonyfield’s commitment to sustainability and giving back to the community. He uses the success stories and best practices of Stoneyfield and other companies to demonstrate that through enlightened self interest, companies can both reduce their carbon footprint and become more profitable.

Gary believes that any company that wants to be serious about addressing climate change needs to embrace four steps. While each step is important, addressing the supply chain is where the lion’s share of a company’s carbon footprint lays and is thus the most impactful. Here are the four steps:

1) Measure your carbon Footptint
• What you’re burning (vehicles, furnaces, etc)
• Electricity
• Supply Chain - inflow of what’s coming into the business.

2) Reduce emissions, energy efficiency, incorporating renewable energy – both direct production and supply chain

3) Offset emissions (i.e. carbon credits)

4) Educate and advocate – all stakeholders, consumers, supply chain, policy makers, etc

Gary gives some great examples of Stonyfield successes, from reduced packaging to waste management. He also shares some marketing best practices and how they get employees engaged to support their goal of achieving a neutral footprint.

My favourite quote – "anyone who thinks they are too small to make a difference has never slept with a mosquito in their bedroom".

There is now a scorecard that rates leading companies' efforts towards tackling the climate crisis. It's published annually by Climate Counts, a non-profit organization. We can bring about change by using our wallets to vote and our actions to make a difference, individually and collectively.

Think about it – if we don’t take steps to save the planet, who will?

Or as Gary says, ask yourself…..Why Not?

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