Walking the Sustainability Walk

It’s more important than ever to do business with green companies.

In 2016 you’d be hard pressed to find a company that doesn’t support sustainability, including environmental stewardship and conservation. CEOs and their marketers have gotten the message that going green is good for business.

So how do we know which companies are actually invested and which are just paying lip service? Here’s a tip—look for companies that have moved sustainability initiatives out of their marketing departments and into their day-to-day operations.

Look at companies like General Mills, which has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent by 2025. Or Microsoft, which created an internal system for taxing carbon and now charges its business units for their carbon usage (the money is used to fund sustainability efforts). Or Toyota, which is reducing emissions across its manufacturing processes while simultaneously developing automotive technologies that pollute less. As a partner of Toyota’s for seven years, Audubon knows firsthand that this commitment extends to philanthropy—the company invested $25.4 million in community-driven conservation projects through our joint Toyota TogetherGreen initiative.

But there’s only so far corporations can go on their own to support conservation or to reduce emissions, and even if every company in the world revised its daily operations, it still wouldn’t get us where we need to be to ensure a healthy future for birds and people. When it comes to business leaders, the true green advocates are those willing to stand up for the policies and regulations that will actually protect or restore the places birds need.

Back in December a lot of corporations tried to ride the wave of excitement that came out of Paris once a global climate change deal was reached. But the bravest organizations were the ones speaking out long before a climate deal was in sight—companies like Aveda, which partnered with the National Audubon Society to collect signatures from people around the world in support of an agreement to keep global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

It’s not enough for corporate citizens to talk about being green. It isn’t even news anymore. The “green is good for business” ethic has been around long enough that we, as consumers, should expect more than noble statements on company websites. Take the time to find out which companies act on what they preach. Because when it comes to sustainability, what a company actually does is all that matters.

Here are some details on how consumers can tell the difference between green action and greenwashing.