Clif Bar's Cool Commute Program Helps Employees Put the Brakes on Climate Change
Kris Wallace of Clif Bar & Company’s finance team often walks the 3-mile roundtrip between his home and our headquarters in Emeryville, Calif., welcoming the opportunity to leave his car at home and lessen his impact on climate change.
Clif Bar CEO Kevin Cleary rides his bike to work, 50 miles roundtrip, at least once a week, eight months a year. He bikes to benefit the planet, get exercise and carve out time to think about the business.
Alfred Torres of Clif Bar’s communications team commutes daily to the office by Amtrak train, a 100-mile roundtrip. Having lived in California’s Central Valley, where air pollution contributes to high rates of asthma, he knows that planet-friendly mass transportation also is good for people’s health. An added bonus: Alfred has loved trains since he was a kid!
A Cleaner Commute
Kris, Kevin and Alfred are among nearly 500 Clif Bar employees who have participated in the company’s Cool Commute program since it launched in 2006. The program encourages employees to commute using more eco-friendly alternatives, including walking, biking, taking public transit, carpooling and driving all-electric or fuel-efficient hybrid cars.
“The Cool Commute program started because our employees wanted to participate in climate solutions in a more personal way,” explains Elysa Hammond, our vice president of environmental stewardship. “If we’re going to fight climate change, business has an essential role to play. One of the most powerful ways business can address the issue is to have employees help drive the change.”
Clif Bar makes participation easy and enticing, offering employees Cool Commute incentives1 that include:
- $500 toward the purchase of a commuter bike or a bike trailer for their child or dog
- Up to $1,500 a year in cash or rewards for eliminating the car from their commutes. This includes support for walking, biking, using public transit or carpooling
- $6,500 to help them buy an all-electric or fuel-efficient hybrid car.
What’s been the program’s impact? Over 450 Clif employees—more than one third of our company—are driving greener vehicles. The bike incentive has been used 360 times.
Transit Takes a Toll
A cool commute matters now more than ever. Just two years ago, transportation overtook electric power generation as the leading source of global warming pollution in the United States.2 At the same, the federal government also is vowing to roll back car and truck fuel economy standards.
Transportation’s climate impact hits home for Jeff Tang of our brand team. He worries about the kind of planet his son, Sage, 2, will inherit. That inspires him to ride his bike to work every day with Sage in tow in a trailer. Jeff drops off Sage at our onsite childcare center. “If some of your actions might help leave the planet better off, wouldn’t you take that chance?” he asks. Riding his bike to work, Jeff eliminates 3,000 car miles a year, adding, “I’m also in great shape.”
One could argue that Clif Bar’s Cool Commute program is just a drop in the bucket. After all, how much do the actions of one company—in our case 1,200 people—really matter to climate change?
“A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a first step,” says Ed Mansourou, a Clif Bar computer specialist. If every individual makes even a small change—like the way you commute—you might convert one person to do the same. And then another, and another--and that matters. How would you ever know without trying?”
Adds Carolina Leonhardt of Clif Bar’s sustainability team, “It’s a ripple effect. We hope to inspire other businesses to take action, too. The climate solution is about building a movement—one business, one person at a time.”
For our tips on how your company can establish a Cool Commute program, check out our tips for starting a commute incentive program at your company.
1 Clif Bar’s Cool Commute program varies by company facility.