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Six of the Coolest,...

Six of the Coolest, Greenest Work Perks

Free bikes and beer for employees. Time off to rock climb or do yoga. Paid sabbaticals. Sustainable practices. It’s absurd to think anyone can find dream jobs with perks like that, right? Wrong, believe it or not. A growing number of companies across the country are discovering that eco-friendliness and happy, healthy employees can slash turnover, boost productivity, and improve the bottom line.

Check out the six greatest work policies we’ve found, all at green companies that give back.

1. Bikes and Beer
New Belgium Brewing Company (Fort Collins, Colorado)
Play time is on tap at this eco-conscious beer maker, which gives free cruiser bikes to employees after one year on the job. Staffers enjoy an on-site climbing wall, yoga classes, and a 50-acre cyclo-cross track (for racing and carrying bikes over obstacles). A flexible schedule lets them get their work done, then work out.

The brewery uses wind power, conserves water, runs trucks on biodiesel, and belongs to 1 percent for the planet (donating one percent of revenue to environmental organizations). Oh, yeah, you get to sip Fat Tire after work, too.

2. Hybrid Help and Surfing
Patagonia (Ventura, California)
Employees of this maverick retailer find their bliss while bringing in the bacon. Staffers can check surf conditions on a white board above the reception desk and catch waves at the nearby beach. Founder Yvon Chouinard—author of the green-business primer Let My People Go Surfing—wouldn’t have it any other way.

Patagonia, an outdoor clothing and gear maker, is renowned for its responsibility to the planet. Employees get a $2,500 incentive for driving a hybrid or bio-diesel vehicle. The company runs on renewable energy, reuses materials, and even encourages customers to return worn out garments for recycling. Patagonia also supports wildlife programs and donates a portion of sales to environmental causes.

3. Raising the Bar
Clif Bar & Co. (Berkeley, California)
Healthy nibbling is just one of many benefits at this ultra-progressive energy-bar firm. Employees can work eighty hours in nine days to free up frolic time, but they find plenty of that on-the-job, thanks to an on-site health center, fitness machines, climbing walls, personal trainers, free yoga, and other classes. The company also boasts a sabbatical program so employees can take two months off every seven years—with pay.

Clif Bar donates 2,000-plus hours of annual volunteer work and as much as $1 million in grants a year to environmental and social causes. To drive—and run and roll—the eco-health message home, it sponsors 2,000 pro and amateur athletes and boasts the Luna Chix, a women’s team that races for breast cancer prevention and groups like Healthy Child Healthy World. Those tasty products, meanwhile, use 70 percent organic ingredients, created in a manufacturing process that’s designed to have the smallest eco-footprint possible.

4. Higher Grounds for Change
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (Waterbury, Vermont)
Employees of this premier bean roaster can take a stretching class or relax in the meditation room, built to encourage serenity and mindfulness. Green Mountain also hosts a volunteer program for worthy work and sends staffers on trips to coffee-growing communities in places as far-flung as Rwanda. And, of course, everyone gets to sip free coffee.

Green Mountain offers one of the broadest selections of Fair Trade Certified organic coffees in the country, providing top quality products, better pay for farmers, and conservation. “Brewing a better world”—the company motto—includes running the truck fleet on biodiesel and building what will be Vermont’s largest solar array. This year, the carbon-neutral Green Mountain is also awarding $800,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations working on climate change. Five percent of pre-tax earnings go to social and environmental causes.

5. Helping the World Wag On
Planet Dog (Portland, Maine)
You know a company’s barking up the right tree when its mottos are “reduce, reuse, rewoof,” and “think globally, act doggedly.” Staffers at Planet Dog are encouraged to bring their thirty-five Fidos to work and take them out for romps to let them test, chew, and chase company products. The products themselves are made of eco-friendly or 100 percent recycled materials.

A summer flex-time policy lets staffers and pets spend more time outdoors, which is one reason Outside magazine listed the business as one of the best places to earn a living. The company offers tuition reimbursement, pays half the sales tax on your new hybrid car, and supports local environmental causes. The Planet Dog Foundation supports dog use for therapy, bomb sniffing, guiding, police work, and more.

6. Ultimate Benefits
REI (Sumner, Washington)
Twelfth on this year’s list of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, REI offers everything from adoption cost assistance and flexible schedules to lunchtime bike rides and Ultimate Frisbee. The co-op for outdoor enthusiasts offers a wide-range of other perks, including healthcare for even part-time employees and 50 percent public transit subsidies for commuters. To help people pursue passions—climbing Everest, anyone?—REI allows up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave in a year. And staffers won’t lack for clothing or gear, thanks to half-off discounts on merchandise.

As to greenness, REI donates millions of dollars and thousands of hours to eco-organizations. It also sponsors events like the Access Fund’s Adopt-a-Crag, leads environmental cleanup efforts, promotes “leave no trace” ethics, and helps needy kids get out to play by providing loans of outdoor gear.

By Amy Linn for SustainLane