Getting a Green Job: Should You Work for a Sustainable Company?

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Oct 3, 2018

Oct 3, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

Are you killing the oceans?

No, we don't mean with plastic straws. But if you've stopped using them, the turtles thank you.

Straws are only part of the problem. There are industries that pump out dangerous chemicals every day. Just look what Big Sugar is doing to Florida's famous lakes.

You can't hold companies accountable from the outside, at least not as well as you can from the inside. And to do that, you have to get hired.

Want to learn how to work at a sustainable company or work towards making your current company one? Get some ideas below.

What do We Mean by a Sustainable Company?

Well, we're glad you asked. Having a sustainable company or culture means different things for different employers. For one company it may mean buying windfarm energy to offset emissions.

For another, it could mean implementing a recycling program in the office. For another, it may mean buying employees bus or metro passes to encourage them to go green to work.

The idea that connects these three very different examples? They're all trying to do something responsible.

But we're not saying that you asking your employees to recycle once makes you a sustainable company. You have to make a real commitment to it and follow through. Be consistent even when it's easier to do the unsustainable thing.

If the earth matters a lot to you, you may want to find a job at a sustainable company. We don't blame you. They're usually forward thinking in their other policies as well.

Want to know more? We'll talk about the details below.

Degrees for Sustainable Jobs

If you think you need one specific degree to qualify for a job at a sustainable company, you're not 100% wrong. It's wrong to think there is one degree that makes you sustainable-company friendly.

But, if the job asks for a marketing degree - you need a marketing degree, there's no getting around it.

If you plan to study environmental sciences, environmental engineering, or environmentally friendly construction practices, that's a whole other animal.

If you have no green on your resume, that doesn't mean companies won't hire you. It might be a good idea, though, to volunteer for some green organizations. That will show an employer you care about what they're passionate about.

Jobs to Look For

There are two ways to go about looking for jobs at sustainable companies. You can search for jobs that refer to sustainability, like resource manager or an environmental lawyer.

Or you can concentrate on only applying to companies which state they're sustainable. Yes, they could be lying, but thankfully the internet is full of data to help you be sure.

If you choose to go the second route, make sure you look into the company's website. This is something you should always do before an interview.

If they have a search feature, search the word sustainable or use the shorthand sustainable*. The asterisk tells the search engine you don't care if it comes up with results for sustainable, sustainability - whatever finishes off the word.

Read up on their initiatives. Do they do things in the community or internally?

You're welcome to come up with some questions to ask during your interview if you decide to apply. Asking questions at an interview makes you look like a hard and thorough worker.

Green Jobs Outlook

With a little background information on sustainable companies, let's look at how they'll impact the future. Think about the current obsession with organic food. The organic buzz and movement isn't going anywhere soon.

Green technology companies, like Tesla, are seeing more popularity in the public sector. That will leads to more need and higher job growth internally.

Examples of Green Companies

What companies are setting the stage for others to look up to? Well, the TV show 24 turned heads when it announced it would pay off the carbon emissions for what it used during explosions. But that show ended years ago.

Companies to pay attention to right now are those which focus on delivering reusable materials to customers.

For example, the meal delivery service Blue Apron delivers their food in boxes with mostly recyclable packaging. You can drain the ice packs it comes with and throw the casing in with the plastics and glass.

Walmart is doing its part by buying the Tesla brand electric semi-trucks. We wouldn't call them eco-friendly in general, but they're showing steps in the right direction.


The silicon valley based company Chegg sells and rents used textbooks to students. They encourage their employees to volunteer in the community, by giving them paid time off.

Worried about the use of paper, they decided to contribute to reforestation projects to counteract it.

Phone Companies

A lot of cell phone companies have a recycling program where they'll take your old phone and reset it. After they wipe it and inspect it, they donate the phones to people in need.

Like women (or men) escaping from domestic partner abuse, who wouldn't have access to a safe phone.

That program is humanitarian based, but it also keeps those phones out of the landfill.

New Industries

There are even new industries or at least revolutionary products that are starting green. Someone figured out that if you send people tiny pods of laundry detergent, it wastes less water and plastic.

Other people are figuring out ways to make biodegradable food supplies, like corn plastic cups and forks.

There are even people determined to create water bottles that don't use any plastic. There's no denying it: green is on trend and you need to read more.

How to Get Hired

The first step to getting a job at a sustainable company is to find one. We looked at how to do that above.

The second step is asking questions in interviews and finding out if they're really as green as they say. The third step is the only one that really matters - your participation.

If you get hired at a sustainable company but continue to use unsustainable habits, what's the use?

You might as well leave that job to someone who will actually use (and reuse) it!

Fired up and ready to apply for a sustainable job? Start your search here.