When you think of socially responsible, sustainable food companies, which come to mind? Ben & Jerry's? Stonyfield Farm? New Belgium?

How about Mars?

Mars? You mean the company that makes Milky Way, Starburst, and 3 Musketeers, among others? Not likely top of mind for you. Yet. And I'd wager it just may be in the coming years. Why? Mars recently made two monumental commitments, with action and money to back it up. They encompass both what's in and outside the wrapper. And they could even serve as an example and even a resource to you. Yes, you, the perhaps-already-sustainable-in-many-ways company. Read on...

Mars recently committed to purchasing 100 million tons of sustainably sourced cocoa beans, certified by UTZ Certified. While not as well known by you and I as, say, TransfairUSA, UTZ's work is of no less substance. Along with source sustainability certification and verification of supportive workplace practices, they actively reach out to farmers and those in the surrounding communities to educate them on the viability of and market for sustainably grown cocoa.

What impact could this have on you?

If a major player like Mars is committing to have all of its chocolate sustainably sourced, this both sets a precedent for others to follow suit, and it will have ripple effects of an increasing supply, as more farmers see the long term viability of choosing to grow in a planet friendly way. Which means more room for new green chocolate companies. Question is, will it remain a niche, or become the norm?

Mars is taking their commitment beyond the bar, to include the wrapper. Not yet going the Sun Chips compostable route, they've made an agreement with us, the largest such for upcycling of post consumer waste. Translation -- 3,000 tons of packaging that would have otherwise been burnt for power will now be turned into new products. Nineteen candy brands, three cat and dog food brands, plus Uncle Ben's, Seeds of Change, and Flavia to be precise.

If a mammoth company like this can make such a huge commitment to repurposing its waste, what's stopping you? Ideas? Money? Creativity? Figure out how you can do it as easily as possible, while profiting at it. Can you do it? How would you do it? We started with a composter and plastic bottles out of our people's curbside recycling bin (unbeknownst to them). You can do it too, in a way fitting for your industry. We'd love to hear your ideas, stories, and successes. Drop me a comment here.