International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), Sprint Nextel Corporation (S) Among The Five Companies to Celebrate on Earth Day

Having spent the last three years working on an organic coffee farm in Costa Rica, I can attest to the fact that coffee farming can be very unfriendly to the environment. Most noticeably, the creation of monocultures, the use of chemicals, and the effects of erosion can wreak havoc on an ecosystem.

CEO Howard Schultz has made it a priority to create a supply chain that respects both the farmers that produce coffee and the land used to make it. Starbucks has set up centers in Costa Rica and many African countries to teach sustainable practices, and has a goal of 100% of its coffee coming from ethical sources under C.A.F.E guidelines by 2015.

What many people don’t realize is that certifications for fair-trade, sustainable, and organic designations can be prohibitively expensive for small family farms. Instead of turning away those farms that have environmentally friendly practices but can’t afford these certifications, Starbucks set up a Small Farmer Sustainability Initiative in 2009.

Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM)

Source: Whole Foods Press Kit.

While the company may not actually show up on many lists for reducing greenhouse gases, Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) deserves a spot on this list for the result of its bigger mission: educating Americans about where their food comes from.

No company has done more to make shoppers think twice about how the food they are buying was grown, and how much fuel was used to get it there. With labels telling you exactly where all the produce and meat products come from, along with a color-coded system to help buyers make informed decisions about sustainability, Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) has helped us turn on our brains again when we think about food.

Respectfully Foolish
Of course, this list is far from exhaustive — it’s just a snapshot. At the core of what I looked for is what I think is the key aspect Earth Day was meant to focus on: respect. Environmental degradation occurs because of a lack of respect — for other living creatures, for employees, for neighborhoods where pollution occurs. These companies have shown us that businesses can be a part of the solution.

The article 5 Companies to Celebrate on Earth Day originally appeared on and is written by Brian Stoffel.

Fool contributor Brian Stoffel owns shares of Starbucks and Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM). The Motley Fool recommends Starbucks and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool owns shares of Interface, International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM)., Starbucks, and Whole Foods Market.

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