May 12, 2009
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IKEA, Tiffany, PolarTec Among Time's Green Design 100

May 12, 2009

What's the greenest company you can think of, from a design standpoint? Odds are, Time Magazine's list of the Green Design 100 has that company covered.

The list looks at innovative new companies, well established firms going green, and everything in between, with a goal of highlighting the many ways that design can be used to change the world.

"Call it responsibility or accountability. Or simple popular demand. The rarefied world of design is embracing the environment as never before," the editors write in the introduction to the list. "Top architects are implementing revolutionary methods. Fashion and furniture mainstays are manufacturing products using sustainable materials. And luxury empires are establishing credos on issues their customers are still waking up to. Behind the scenes, trailblazing executives are taking big risks to make it all happen -- beautifully."

There are multiple categories of winners, almost all of which also contain companies, but among the companies that made the company-specific list -- chosen, presumably for a corporate-wide embrace of green -- are Ikea, Nike, Mayc's PolarTec, Tag Heuer, and Tiffany & Co.

IKEA is a very green company, to be sure; in addition to its innovations around flat-packing, packaging reduction, plastic bag reduction, and heavy investment in renewable energy, the company is also taking a close look at its entire supply chain.

From the write-up in Time:

For Ikea, that means prohibiting the use of harmful substances in its products and only using wood from responsibly managed forests. The Swedish home-furnishings retailer also plans to replace its entire selection of electric outdoor lights with solar-powered models, starting this summer.

Nike, too, is a hugely innovative company. We have profiled the company nearly 200 times in the past 9 years, often focusing on how the company is using design to boost business goals, reduce waste and save money all at the same time. From Time:

Since the launch of its Reuse-A-Shoe program in 1990, Nike has recycled more than 21 million pairs of athletic shoes to create public basketball courts and athletic tracks around the world. Its new Considered Design approach aims to reduce waste and eliminate toxins from its factories, further reducing its carbon shoe print.

When I think about jewelry giant Tiffany & Co., sustainability is not the first thing that comes to mind. But the company has long been a leader on cleaning up the resource-intensive jewelry industry. Time writes:

A pioneer in the eco-gold and ethical-mining movement, Tiffany & Co. is also a leader in energy conservation. The jewelry company installed two solar-power systems at its distribution plant in New Jersey. The panels generate about 1.4 megawatts of power annually, making up 35% of the plant's electricity needs.

Time Magazine's list literally goes on and on, and there are far too many admirable companies on it to do it justice. So go check out the full list of the Green Design 100, while I ask you: what companies are missing from this list?

Right off the top of my head, the companies that are unjustly absent are:

• Method, who continually impress me with the depth and scope of their commitment to use environmentally friendly and non-toxic materials for producing their broad line of cleaning products;
• TerraCycle, who takes innovation to eye-opening new levels with turning trash into useful products;
Timberland for both its innovative product designs and its overall-solid climate strategies;
• and REI, whose design and renewables projects earned it a spot on the EDF's Innovation Review last month.

By Matthew Wheeland

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