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Money News

How Ecolab Does the Right Thing: Giving Time and Money

November 21, 2016

4 min read

Ecolab might be one of the most massive companies you’ve never heard of. In 2016, Ecolab was ranked 206th on Forbes’ list of Fortune 500 companies. To put this in perspective, this places them right above Kellogg’s. And while Ecolab may not be a household name in the same way that Tony the Tiger is a ubiquitous American breakfast companion, the likelihood that you interact with Ecolab products, possibly on a daily basis, is exceptionally high. If you work in an office, attend a school, use water provided by a city, or ever eat at a restaurant, chances are you’ve interacted with surfaces cleaned, water treated, or products improved by Ecolab.

Ecolab’s Origins

1923, St. Paul, Minnesota. A 44 year-old traveling salesman changed his life, and yours, forever, when he founded Economics Laboratory with its first product: Absorbit.

Merritt J. (M.J.) Osborn identified a gap in efficiency in the hotel industry. As he traveled the country, he stayed in countless hotels, and realized that whenever a hotel needed to have its carpets cleaned, they needed to send them out to a cleaning service. This could take as much as a week, and in that time the hotel couldn’t rent the room.

Enter Osborn and his new product, Absorbit. Absorbit cleaned carpets on the spot, eliminating the need to have them sent out, and allowing hotels to book their rooms each night.

Osborn called his new company Economics Laboratory, to reflect his goal to save customers time and money with solutions developed through ‘laboratory’ research.

From Cleaning Carpets in St. Paul to Cleaning the Planet

Fast forward over 90 years and Osborn’s carpet cleaning solution is one of the largest corporations in the world, operating in 1.3 million locations in 170 countries. Renamed in 1986, Ecolab has its hygienic hands in industries ranging from metalworking to water treatment, and retains its roots of hygiene solutions with products and services for hotels, schools, hospitals and other major institutions.

“Adding resourcefulness to the equation.”

“Doing more with less.”

“Protecting what’s vital.”

“Keeping food safe sustainably.”

These are the headlines that greet you on Ecolab’s website. And they’re not just claiming to work toward a “cleaner, safer, healthier” world, they’re really doing their part to make the world a ‘greener’ place. In 2016, Ecolab was ranked 6th on Newsweek’s round-up of the Top Green Companies in the U.S., up 20 spots from their rank of 26th in 2010, reflecting their clear commitment to improving their status as a leader in Green business practices.

How Ecolab is ‘Doing the Right Thing’

As we here at Stash spotlight charitable giving throughout the month of November, we want to give you an idea of the amazing ways Ecolab goes beyond their commitment to going Green; highlighting their commitment to charitable giving and volunteer involvement in their communities.

Giving of Funds

The Ecolab Foundation has donated over $81 million since its inception in 1986, and corporate giving totaled more than $12 million in 2015 alone. The Nature Conservancy and Project WET are part of Ecolab’s Solutions for Life program which they describe as “our global giving program that enhances our mission to conserve water and improve hygiene around the world.”

Giving of Time

Ecolab is exceptional in their charitable giving not only in their monetary contributions, but also the contributions of time given by their employees. Ecolab locations throughout the U.S. host food drives, and their employees often volunteer with Feeding America and Habitat for Humanity.  In 2014, Ecolab employees volunteered over 55,000 hours, 42,000 of which were during work hours.

Ecolab is exceptional in their charitable giving not only in their monetary contributions, but also the contributions of time given by their employees

In 2011, Ecolab merged with Nalco, a company specializing in “industrial water, energy and air applications, helping customers reduce natural resource consumption, enhance air quality, minimize environmental releases and improve productivity.” Nalco’s program for Chicago third graders called “Science is Fun,” actively engages kids in science activities through free, entertaining demonstrations, helping to ensure the next generation of STEM interest and research.

This is only one of many programs Ecolab champions to encourage future generations’ commitment to science technologies. Others include “Kids & Chemistry,” Bring Your Child to Work Day, city and state level science fairs, and Science Fusion outreach at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Giving of Materials

During times of crisis, Ecolab puts their immense resources to good use and donates cleaning, health and sanitation products to organizations in places at the mercy of natural disasters. For instance, in 2015, Ecolab’s in kind donations to parts of West Africa affected by the ebola outbreak were more than 355 tons of infection preventing products valued at more than $2.3 million.

Investing Responsibly in Social Responsibility

If you have Do the Right Thing in your Stash, you are investing in Ecolab, and other corporations with similar commitments to the environment, charitable giving, and social issues.

Our Do the Right Thing Investment represents 118 companies, 6 of which we have featured this month. We want to give you a better idea of the charitable giving power of these corporations, and just why we feel confident calling this investment Do the Right Thing. Check out our profiles of 3MMattel, Disney, Apple, and Google and find out more about how the corporations in which you invest with Do the Right Thing are actually doing the right things!

By Clare Edgerton

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*Values of donations and time taken from Ecolab’s website. Investing involves risk and investments may lose value. See our disclosures page for more information.

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