The tragedy of Sierra Leone’s mudslides — which killed over 200 people earlier this week — is a severe reminder that we have a responsibility to sustainability. Heavy deforestation and poor urban planning combined with especially intense monsoons precipitated the disaster, creating rapid erosion and vulnerable communities. We mourn the loss of so many lives and extend our hearts to the families recovering.
We take some comfort knowing that people are working to prevent deforestation and restore healthy ecosystems. Businesses around the world are giving beyond what is “cool” to make a real difference, especially through carbon offsetting and insetting. Offsetting is creating an initiative outside the supply chain to offset the carbon a company produces. Insetting is fixing a supply chain to reduce the carbon a company creates. Below are three companies, like Sealevel, who have made sustainability and environmental friendliness a priority through reforestation initiatives.
Ben and Jerry’s
Globally recognized ice cream company Ben and Jerry’s is known for their climate activism. They’ve been engaging in carbon offsetting since 2002. They continue to invest in energy efficient facilities, including Scoop Shops, their proprietary ice cream shops.
Their newest project involves insetting in Rwenzori, Uganda, where they source vanilla for their ice cream. Through PUR Projet, a corporate insetting architect, Ben and Jerry’s has financed the planting of 100,000 native trees to help vanilla farmers. Not all of the trees are for their products. Some of the trees planted are of the Jackfruit and African Cherry species, which are crop yielding. These will help provide shade for other crops, contribute to overall ecosystem health, and diversify income. Their goal is three-fold: increase wealth in the area, fight climate change effects and ensure healthier vanilla harvests.
This technology giant had a rocky start to its sustainability. However, in the last five years, the company has pledged itself to multiple projects to help offset its carbon production.
Apple partnered with the Conservation Fund to permanently protect more than 36,000 acres of working forest in the eastern United States. This year, in June, they had 320,000 acres of Chinese forested land certified as protected by the Forest Stewardship Council. This working forest covers all of its product packaging, which was 99% recyclable material in 2015.
Although less well-known in the United States, the coffee giant Nespresso has made huge leaps towards carbon insetting. A producer of premium grade coffee and high-end coffee makers, Nespresso is intent on creating a supply chain that is environmentally robust and compassionate toward its human contributors.
With PUR Projet, like Ben and Jerry’s, Nespresso has invested $600 million over five years to plant 10 million trees in Colombia, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Mexico and Nicaragua. All of the tree species are native to their respective regions. Unlike Ben and Jerry’s, whose trees helped primarily with shade and soil erosion, these trees given by Nespresso will help with water scarcity and protecting local water supplies.
Although we can’t prevent every tragedy right now, we can take the steps needed to have a future where the environment and climate don’t feel like enemies. Sealevel stands with our fellow corporate conservationists.