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It’s Easy Being A Green Business: Clif Bar

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“When we grow up, we want to be a fully sustainable business,” organic energy bar producer Clif Bar says. They may still be a long way off, but this Green Power Leadership Award-winning company is doing everything they can to get there.

Clif Bar involves itself in a wide range of sustainability projects, from using biodiesel to fuel its 20,000 miles of inter-company shipping to partnering with American Forests to plant trees to help offset its carbon emissions.

In 2001, founder Gary Erickson hired a staff ecologist and began working on reducing Clif Bar’s environmental footprint. They shifted to organic ingredients, eliminated shrink wrap, and got three wind turbines up and running with help from Native Energy. The company later hired a sustainability manager to conduct an audit of the business’s effect on the environment.

The company now purchases enough energy credits from renewable sources every year to offset the greenhouse gas emissions from its energy use, and has sold enough wind energy credits from its three turbines to offset an additional 4.5 million miles of driving.

The cartons that hold Clif Bar’s energy and nutrition bars on store shelves are made with 100-percent recycled paperboard, at least 50 percent of which is derived from post-consumer scrap paper. And 70 percent of the ingredients for the company’s products are now organic.

Clif Bar’s efforts don’t end with the environment. The company is also committed to community service. In 2001, the company launched Project 2080, which guarantees that each year its 150 employees will collectively volunteer at least 2,080 hours—the amount of time that a full-time employee works annually. As of 2006, employees had given a total of 13,000 hours to some 50 local California nonprofits.

Clif Bar’s environmental and social actions have put it in a class of “green pioneers” whose business models are reported on regularly as exemplars. The company was developing its concepts before green was popular and will continue to serve as an example of a successful business giving back to the planet and the community.

This feature is part of a new series from CAP recognizing those who are taking action to address climate change and help create a low-carbon economy.

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