I enjoy learning about how I can help the environment and staying up to date on which green businesses are playing a role in this revolution. My understanding of why everyone needs to contribute to this solution continues to branch out in many new directions as well. From reducing to reusing to recycling, this century’s eco-friendly innovators have helped pave the way for a growing awareness about environmental concerns that is sweeping the globe. Here are some examples of how green businesses are helping create a cleaner and safer environment.

Plastic Reduction

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Advinylize repurposes vinyl from billboards.

The most basic way people can start helping clean up the environment is bringing their own bags to the grocery store. Instead of choosing between paper and plastic bags, both of which create a strain on the environment, bringing your own cloth bag is reusable, reducing the need to cut down trees and drill for oil, which is where plastic products come from. Several U.S. cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and Honolulu now ban plastic bags. Here are some companies that offer reusable grocery bags:

 

Greener Buildings

green_building-1PG&E confirms on its website that green certification can boost a company’s economic value. The utility company reports there has been a gr owing trend in recent years among businesses–particularly retail outlets and hotels–to gain LEED certification through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). These green businesses are accomplishing several goals at once, by lowering energy costs due to consuming less energy, consuming less water, reducing the amount of maintenance and lowering greenhouse gas emissions compared with conventional commercial buildings. A recent Harris poll found that 64 percent of adults prefer to patronize establishments with green certification.

 

Solar Energy

I’ve been fascinated with solar energy for decades, but it has only really been in the past decade that solar has entered mainstream consciousness. One of the companies paving the way is Apple, which is building solar farms for its data centers. Google has also invested millions of dollars in helping develop solar plants. Germany announced in June, 2014 that 51 percent of its energy now comes from solar power, setting a global milestone. The world’s top producer of silicon solar panels is Suntech from China, according to ExploringGreenTechnology.com. The solar manufacturer now has a presence in 80 countries and even launched a U.S. factory in Arizona in 2010. Other leading solar manufacturers that are paving the way toward harnessing energy from the sun are:

  • First Solar
  • Sharp Solar
  • Yingli Green Energy
  • SolarCity
  • Sun Power

 

Electric Cars

BMW-i3-electric-carAt one time in the late 1990s it appeared that the electric car was dead. It was criticized for its slow speed and inability to travel long distances without recharging. Tesla, however, has changed all that. In fact, the electric car maker’s Model S can travel over 200 miles before recharging and can go just as fast as conventional cars, without polluting the environment. In 2013 the Model S achieved the highest ratings of any automobile in history from Consumer Reports Magazine (scoring 99 out of 100). While it is a high priced luxury electric car for early adopters, more affordable electric cars that also run on lithium batteries include the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt.

Tesla is a company started by Elon Musk, who also founded the home solar installer SolarCity, which additionally builds charging stations for electric cars. This company has developed an innovative business model that integrates electric cars with solar homes as charging stations. Swiss bank UBS recently predicted that utilities will eventually become backup power sources to solar energy.

UBS-solar-payback