- "Everybody in the Pool of Green Innovation" - Over the weekend, the New York Times published an article looking at communication and collaboration among companies seeking to improve their environmental performance. In particular, the article talks about companies that donate patents for environmentally-responsible products, processes, etc. to the public commons.
- "With New Care Tags, Levi Strauss Aims to Reduce Its Footprint" - Interesting way to manage product lifecycle concerns - according to the New York Times, "The company will soon sew revamped tags into all of its clothing that instruct people to donate items when they are no longer needed." The tags will also recommend washing practices (cold wash, line dry) that conserve energy .
It's interesting that, in both cases, the CSR activities don't necessarily require a major investment by the company. The donated patents, for instance, are primarily patents that aren't especially strategic to the donor companies, so the donors don't get much value out of holding them close. By donating the patents to the public commons, the donor companies enable a range of other players to be more sustainable. Similarly, I don't think Levi Strauss is incurring any extra cost (beyond redesigning its labels, I suppose) by asking consumers to be more thoughtful about the environmental impact of their jeans - instead, as in the green innovation article, the company in question is making it more likely that an external party behave more responsibly. (Of course, these low-cost activities may be packaged with higher cost activities, like grants that seek to leverage their impact.)
These are great examples of companies indentifying CSR activities that are relatively cheap for them to carry out, but relatively high value for the community at large.