Sustainable Style: Ben & Jerry's

{Spiced Chocolate Ice Cream; photo by Alex Hong}

Okay...confession time. I have long enjoyed the flavors and fun names of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, but, until recently, was not aware of how this company has succeeded in sewing sustainable roots throughout the company. There's so much that they're doing, and so many ways they're incorporating admirable ethics and ideas, that I hardly know where to start!

What originally brought me to their company page was an article I read about their gradual process of making all their flavors Fair Trade Certified. According to their site, they started this transition in 2004 with their coffee flavors (sourced from the Huatusco cooperative in Mexico), and have progressed to include using FTC vanilla from Uganda and FTC cocoa from the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Their hope to have all their flavors using FTC ingredients, where available, by 2013. If you click here, then click on "Fair Trade Flavors" at the top right, you can see which ones have already made the jump.

{Photo courtesy of the Ben & Jerry's Instagram stream}

As I clicked through the website, I learned that Ben & Jerry's sources all their brownies from Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, N.Y., which also has an admirable mission. Greyston is a Certified B Corporation, which means they use "the power of business to solve social and environmental problems," and they do this by employing underprivileged people from the local community in Yonkers and giving them a fair, living wage. They also donate all their profits to the Greyston Foundation, which "supports jobs, childcare, health care and housing for the underprivileged."

In their recent "It's What's Inside..." ad campaign, Ben & Jerry's put together a neat little commercial with an animated diorama of the bakery. Check it out...

Some other ways the ice cream kings are trying to leave a lighter footprint include...

> Making the switch to cage-free eggs

> Sourcing their dairy from the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery in Vermont, and starting a "Caring Dairy" program that encourages those farmers to "adopt leading-edge sustainable practices," such as not using rBGH to increase milk production

> Developing new freezers that don't use HFC refrigerants, which are highly potent greenhouse gases

> Sourcing their containers from "a paper supplier that uses pulp from sustainably managed forests, and are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council"

> Sending their waste to a Methane Bio-digester, which puts waste through a biological process that creates methane energy for the St. Albans farmers. The “cake” solids left over from the digester are then turned into comfy bedding for the cows.

{Photo courtesy of the Ben & Jerry's Instagram stream}

And I haven't even delved into their Peace & Justice initiatives. Click here to read more about that.

Phew. I'm kinda worn out! But I'm also inspired by the steps such a large company has taken to do good with what they have. And I know which ice cream I'm gonna go for next time I'm craving a sweet treat! :)

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