Earlier this week, we published an article about Tom’s of Maine’s million-dollar spend on national water conservation projects. We touched base with the company’s senior shopper Andy Brown to talk about the business implications of the initiative.
Environmental Leader: How is this Earth Month initiative good for business?
Andy Brown: Although Tom’s of Maine sees every month as Earth Month, there’s certainly an increased focused among the general population during this period. It’s becoming important to more and more consumers that businesses not only behave responsibly, but that they act in a truly authentic way and do good out in the world. We pioneered this approach to business nearly 50 years ago. It paid off then by earning our brand a loyal following and it’s important to remind consumers of the action we’re taking today so that they continue to support our brand.
EL: What has Tom’s of Maine learned from doing these types of initiatives?
Brown: Tom’s of Maine has donated 10% of profits to organizations committed to taking care of the planet since we were founded in 1970. Being a sustainable and responsible business is core to how we operate and, over the decades, we’ve learned that we can have a real impact in communities and bring lasting, positive change.
EL: What challenges have you faced?
Brown: For us, the challenge is always prioritizing which organizations to support each year and the specific projects. We always want to do more whether it’s in our own backyard in Maine or the Mississippi River Basin or Colorado River — two areas of focus for our partnership with The Nature Conservancy this year.
Helping Turn the Tide
Tom’s of Maines initiative has the company donating $1 million in 2018 to The Nature Conservancy to help “turn the tide” toward better protecting, preserving and restoring our nation’s freshwater, the company says.
Water initiatives like Tom’s not only keep customers engaged — they also help prepare companies as they face challenges like water shortages related to climate risks in coming years.
Similar efforts along the Salt and Verde watershed are being supported by PepsiCo, also in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy. PepsiCo’s water management goals could be a sign that the company takes climate-preparedness seriously. For example, PepsiCo’s Tropicana production facility in Fort Pierce, Fla., faces plentiful torrential storms. In 2014, Tropicana engineers began using the frequent downpours to their advantage with a storm water-recycling project. The facility began using storm water instead of municipal water in the plant’s evaporative condensers, which remove heat by evaporating water. The project’s goal was to decrease the amount of municipal water used in the plant’s yearly operations by a little less than 20% with estimated yearly municipal water savings ranging from approximately 20 to 30 million gallons total.
Pictured: Tom’s of Maine and The Nature Conservancy’s East Coast Dams project