Clif Bar: Sustainable Nutrition and Development

You’ve probably heard of Clif bars. Whether you are leaving for work or school, running to the gym or caught up in the daily rush, Clif bars provide sustainable, long-term energy and doesn’t sacrifice taste or nutrition.

But beyond helping you attain a more sustainable body and mind, Clif Bar is also working to build a more resilient world. It is built on a bottom line of five “aspirations”: strengthening the company through long-term investment, creating a brand that is sustainable in its ethics, quality and authenticity, forming the company around the best interests of its employees’ creating strong, healthy communities, both locally and globally and forwarding conservation and restorative environmental practices. One way Clif Bar does this is through continual work toward a 100 percent organic brand.

“We start every recipe with the goal of [fully] organic products, but we don’t always get there depending on supply,” says Sue Hearn, senior director of communications. In pursuance of increasing the availability of organic crops, the company has invested in research, creating the nation’s first endowed research position focusing on plant breeding for organic crops at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“It is critically important that our young people know the benefits of organics and leverages them to develop solutions for all of agriculture. We deeply believe that healthy seeds and healthy soils are key to healthy plants and animals,” commented funder George Siemon.

The company’s headquarters — a former World War II valve factory that was remodeled using reclaimed materials primarily from railroad construction — is also a model of responsible development. It boasts soundproofing technology made from recycled jeans and one of the largest solar panel conglomerations in the United States. Despite its innovative, high-tech design, the company headquarters retains a utilitarian feel, much like Clif Bars themselves do. As further confirmation of the company’s environmental initiatives, its headquarters received LEED Platinum certification for the utmost environmentally-conscious design.

The company also encouraged employees to pursue a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer time a year, amounting to a massive 10,000 hours of community service logged in one year. Beyond building sustainably, the company is working to actively encourage growth in communities and impoverished areas all over the world through service work and research initiatives, such as its agricultural funding. Each year, employees participate in a company-wide bike ride to commemorate the company’s commitment to low-impact development and healthy living.

As a further example of encouraging sustainable, healthy living, the company pays its 320 employees to use its in-house gym for 30 minutes per day, take part in fitness classes and get nutrition counseling and subsidized meals. Rather than trying to balance work and life, founder and former CEO Kevin Cleary works toward integrating the two, providing payment for employees to do their dog-walking and dry-cleaning while on the clock, as well as daycare services alongside the company gym. Its commitment to the wellness of its employees, as well as its customers, has helped it become a reputable brand for empowering and supporting its workers.

This commitment has paid off. Clif Bar has a voluntary turnover rate of around 5 percent. Beyond worker benefits, it offers employees 20 percent shares in the company, increasing shareholder value and encouraging workers to lead initiatives in creating a more sustainable, productive brand. The worker engagement that has resulted, Cleary says, is remarkable.

So next time you need some fuel for a workout, workday or work-in-progress, consider a brand that is derived from and promotes healthy, sustainable ideas and projects to build a more responsible global community.

– Jenny Wheeler

Sources: TriplePundit, Clif Bar
Photo: TriplePundit