Companies and Environmental Issues

For all the marketing around green, there's no escaping the fact that commerce wreaks havoc on the planet.

As the following list of the 15 worst companies for the environment makes very clear, there's also not much consumers can do to avoid the worst offenders.

The worst companies for the planet, as determined by Newsweek, are mostly utilities. It's hard to live without electricity. One of the few exceptions is ConAgra, the giant packaged food company. If you go to your kitchen right now odds are you'll find a ton of ConAgra products.

And it's not just our food and our energy that come from these environmentally unfriendly companies. Our pension funds and mutual funds are invested in them.

GreenBiz: An analysis of the publicly available data shows that the 50 largest investors in the companies receiving the lowest scores — those ranked 490 through 500 on Newsweek's list — include three leading public employee pension funds as well as major mutual funds that hold millions of Americans' retirement accounts, including (in alphabetical order) American Century, Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, TIAA-CREF, and Vanguard Group. All told, the 50 largest investors have sunk more than $55 billion into those worst-rated firms.

As Joel Makower at GreenBiz reports, all the money tied up in these companies is with institutional investors. If people are really worried about the environment, then they have to pressure these groups, even more than the companies themselves to get something done.

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