CSR Heroes: Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farm

1238813_26934058Although Jeffrey Hollender of Seventh Generation is awesome, there are other dynamic CSR leaders that deserve the spotlight for their good works. The CSR Heroes series will highlight people leading companies with great CSR programs and will explain what makes these companies so cool. The first CSR hero is Gary Hirschberg, of New Hampshire’s Stonyfield Farm.

Speaking at University of North Carolina Wilmington’s (UNCW) in late March, Hirshberg says the secret to his company’s success- to $300 million dollars of success- is a blend of altruism and thinking differently. Hirshberg attributes Stonyfield’s success to ambitious environmentalism- always looking for what is next. His company has benefited fiscally from its green efforts as well, counting millions of dollars in savings through efficiency.

What Hirshberg failed to mention in his speech was Stonyfield’s powerful partnership with Danone Europe, but nonetheless, sustainability is at the core of Stonyfield’s creamery operations. Stonyfield has a panopoly of sustainability and social enterprise initiatives born under Hirshberg’s leadership:

No chemicals, sustainable farming

Their products are organic, and they focus on the health of the cattle, employees and customers.

They support small scale dairy operations localized in New Hampshire and teach sustainable farming techniques that preserve soil, minimize runoff and prohibit chemicals.

Using profits to fight climate change

Stonyfield Yogurt runs Profits for Planet, which reroutes 10% of the yogurt company’s profits into grants distributed annually to a huge range of environmental organizations.

Thoroughly efficient transportation:

Stonyfield has made improvements in packaging that help them get more yogurt shipped per truck, reducing trips (and CO2).

The trucks are equipped with software that limits maximum speed and C02 output.

They use trains to ship Yogurt, another (generally underrated) CO2 reducing strategy.

Sustainable operations, extensively planned

Stonyfield boasts an extremely lean, environmentally awesome operations.

Green building, including graywater systems

Organic, onsite wastewater treatment

Zero waste initiative

Fueled by renewable energy, offset their carbon output.

Raising green leaders: their employees

Training involves environmental education

Follow up green educational opportunities

Communication about Stonyfield’s CSR initiatives

Green building yields healthy workplace

Comprehensively, Stonyfield’s major gains and major profits serve as a beacon for other agricultural production operations, and in large part thanks to Hirshberg’s vision. Hirshberg summed up his philosophy for the Salt Lake Tribune: “Running a green business is not just an ethically and environmentally responsible activity, it is the basis for economic growth in the 21st century.”