You've probably heard the old maxim, "Vote with your wallet." There are a few obvious ways you can go green while spending green -- buying organic foods, for example -- but how do you know if the products you are buying are from a company that behaves responsibly?
One new tool is Corporate Knight magazine's latest list of the world's 100 most sustainable companies
. The list ranks companies based on a few factors, tops of which is "CO2 Productivity." This is a number Corporate Knight calculates as a company's total sales divided by its total greenhouse gas emissions. Other factors include how much of the company's tax is paid in cash, how diverse its management is, and how transparently it operates.
Only three U.S. companies came out on Corporate Knight's top 20: General Electric, PG&E and Procter & Gamble. Other top companies whose products are regularly available in the U.S. include Nokia, Siemens, Unilever and Toyota.
A list like this gives consumers a good chance to evaluate the companies they do business with and spend their money with the companies that act most responsibly. So you needed a new cell phone, for example: would you buy one from Samsung (ranked #91 here) or from Nokia (ranked #5)?
As with any ranking, this is only truly useful if you dig deep, and also if you remain an informed consumer. Just because GE ranked #1 on this list doesn't mean that every one of its products are green, or that they're the greenest on the market. But information is power, and this list gives you a pretty good head start!