Want to work for an employer that cares about the planet? Getting a job at an environmental advocacy group, a solar panel company or an outerwear company aren’t your only options.

Study after study shows that consumers and employees favor companies with environmentally sustainable business practices. Many companies have risen to the occasion, reducing their environmental footprint or even baking sustainability right into their business model.

To find environmentally conscious employers, keep an eye out for traits like these.

Champions remote work and ride sharing. Besides keeping extra cars off the road, it’s been well-documented that allowing telecommuting saves companies a significant amount of money. Of course, not all jobs lend themselves to remote work. But employers also can reduce traffic congestion (and thus, pollution) by permitting flexible work hours. Same goes for providing financial or parking incentives for commuting by carpool, vanpool, corporate shuttle or public transit. If you’re unsure whether a company supports remote work or ride sharing, it’s perfectly OK to ask.

Uses recycled product materials and packaging. Manufacturing with recycled materials often costs a company more, especially if they’re creating sustainable designs, technologies and business practices from scratch. Businesses don’t go out of their way to take these steps unless they care about the environment. If you’re not sure how a company packages their products, do a little online or in-store detective work.

Embraces eco-friendly dining. I’ve come to expect sizable companies with offices in King County to use recyclable plates, cups and, if possible, utensils. With so many people coming through their cafeterias, anything less seems irresponsible. Small businesses can reduce waste, too, by using rewashable kitchenware. If you don’t have the opportunity to visit a company’s kitchen or cafeteria in person, see if someone in your extended network is an employee there and can fill you in on their environmental savviness.


Has certifications in sustainable business practices. Companies with B Corp, LEED or other environmental certifications have invested considerable time and money to help the planet and will proudly display this information on their website. Some will even share metrics about how many trees they saved or carbon emissions they reduced thanks to their environmentally sound practices.

Donates to environmental causes. It’s great that a company donates to the Orca Conservancy. But how much money do they actually donate a year? Giving away a percentage of their annual revenue shows much more of a commitment than the nebulous statement that the company is a proud sponsor of the nonprofit in question.

A company that’s checked off several items on this list shows a strong investment in the environment. If working at an organization that’s taking proactive steps to help the planet is a priority for you, be sure to research their claims of sustainability carefully.

Seattle Times Explore columnist Michelle Goodman (Courtesy of Greg Beckelhymer)