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Green for Good

Something about Earth Day irks me.

It's not because I want to see my planet's resources depleted to the point where lunar real estate looks appealing, but rather that it fires up protestors who believe that cardboard signs and caustic slogans shouted from megaphones will open corporate eyes to the correct moral path.

Companies that offer green services know their corporate clients need more incentive than a clean conscience and a Cat Stevens song. Some of them are proving that Earth-friendly makes good business sense, too.

Driving Change

It's no surprise that Bauer's Worldwide Intelligent Transportation's Corporate Green Solution in San Francisco is considered one of Google's (GOOG - Get Report) biggest employee incentives.

About 2,500 Google employees get chauffeured to and from the office in Bauer's fully equipped compressed natural gas vehicles with leather interiors, Wi-Fi and tables for conferencing. The drive takes half the time of an individual commute, thanks to HOV lanes, and employees can relax or get work done through an otherwise stressful and unproductive morning commute.

But Google's motives aren't solely altruistic. This perk draws employees to the company, increases potential work time and gives Google the "green" look -- the new key to coolness and a customer-friendly corporate image.

"Just look at the Oscars," says Bauer's CEO and founder, Gary Bauer, "and all the [celebrities] coming out of hybrids."

While hybrids used to be associated with squat-looking cars, "you don't have old funky-looking vehicles anymore. [Hybrids] are cool now. It's a trend," he says, describing the sleek, popular cars.

At Google, Bauer continues, some employees regularly ride their bikes to work. "Engineers and tech type people are very into what goes on around them," he explains. "They appreciate [the green ride]."

"Transport to and from work is the No. 1 employee incentive," he says. "It's a big benefit to the company at the end of the day."

"A lot of [my corporate clients] realize that the service makes them look good as a company ... but a lot of companies are just doing it because it's the right thing," says Bauer, who also offers chauffeured luxury transportation in hybrid 2007 Lexus RX SUVs at a price similar to that for regular limousines.

Bauer's company is one of the largest limousine companies to take the green initiative, with 85% of his miles run on clean-air vehicles.

"We're taking less from the environment and giving more to our clients," he says.

Real Recycling

ECO2 Plastics founder Gary DeLaurentiis has exposed recycling's dirty secret: A typical plastics recycling plant consumes about 4,500 gallons of water per hour, 24/7. And those 40,000,000 gallons consumed and dumped down the drain each year are contaminated with detergents, defoaming agents, pH balancers, paper labels and bits of plastic.
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