Throwing a plastic bottle in the trash? Using plastic bags instead of paper? If you work at Aveda's New York corporate headquarters, you better watch out for the Green Team.

Aveda formed the 15-member Green Team in April at its New York headquarters in honor of Earth Month. Employees are fined for infractions throughout the month to encourage environmentally friendly business practices.

"They're wandering the halls, looking for infractions," says Aveda spokeswoman Ashley Bez. "I got fined because one of my employees put plastic in the garbage instead of the recycling bin."

During the month of April, Aveda is selling the limited-edition Light the Way candle.

Aveda has been on the forefront an industry that has put more focus on the environment than ever in recent years. There is a growing awareness that their practices can have a direct impact on the earth, and their influence can affect change in their customers.

"We're about spreading the word," Bez says. "We really like to educate the consumer."

While companies are doing things year round to become more green, their efforts become more visible in April when environmental awareness is front and center.

During the month of April, Aveda is selling the limited-edition Light the Way candle. All proceeds from the candle, which is made with Certified Organic lavender from Bulgaria, go to the Global Greengrants Fund to help protect clean water and air in communities around the world.

This Earth Day, employees at John Paul Mitchell Systems will work to clean up local parks and beaches.

"With Earth Day fast approaching April 22nd, It is a reminder that our everyday actions impact our planet – from the car we drive to the way we heat our homes," says Juice Beauty CEO Karen Behnke.

Juice Beauty, creators of a juice-based organic skin-care line, announced this month that the company has moved to 100 percent recycled packaging.

"We are thrilled that we have taken one more step to being 100 percent green by moving to 100 percent recycled, post-consumer waste cartons, labels and paper," Behnke says, who launched the entire company on a paper, glass and plastic recycling program.

The Northern California company supports farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic ingredients are produced without using most conventional pesticides or fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bioengineering or ionizing radiation.

An Ojon print advertisement.

In April, hair-care company Ojon is celebrating its commitment to environmental sustainability and preservation by donating 10 percent of sales through Ojon.com to the indigenous tribes in Honduras that harvest the rare wildcrafted ingredients used in Ojon products. In the past, Ojon's contributions have helped build new housing and created scholarship initiatives for children of the tribes.This spring, Ojon plans to support a research expedition to the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve.

This month, professional makeup company Temptu announced it is offsetting its carbon emissions with Carbonfund.org, one of the country's leading carbon offset organizations. Temptu has committed to zero-out its carbon footprint through the donation of a portion of sales from its airbrush kits to support carbon offsetting through renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects.

Many companies are adopting green practices on a daily basis — 365 days a year. Some companies, like Innersense Organic Beauty, have gone to the effort of being Certified Green Businesses — companies that comply with environmental regulations and take extra steps to conserve energy and water while reducing pollution and waste.

"Caring about yourself and caring about the earth don't have to be mutually exclusive," says John Masters of John Masters Organics. "John Masters Organics grew out of my desire to create a luxury beauty line that treats the earth with respect. We only get one body, and we only get one planet."

Avalon Organics has made a commitment to reduce its carbon footprint. To this end, the company uses solar power at its office and warehouse and has an extensive recycling program. As a result, the company estimates in 2007 it saved 72 full-grown trees, 42,942 gallons of water, 51 million BTUs of energy and 9,140 pounds of greenhouse gases.

PurePact, a European hair-care company that sells natural and organic products, uses products that are all recycled and recyclable. The company also sells large containers so salons can refill bottles.

From the Paul Mitchell web site.

At John Paul Mitchell Systems' corporate headquarters in Beverly Hills, Calif., employees get a free lunch if they bring their own utensils, and they get free gas if they carpool. Recycled plastic, unbleached recycled paper and soy-based ink are used in product packaging whenever possible.

Aveda's efforts are broad, encompassing every aspect of its business practices. Aveda's primary manufacturing plant is powered with 100 percent certified wind power — an industry first. The company uses renewable, sustainable or organic plant-based ingredients and non-petroleum mineral ingredients in its products. Stores and studios are built with environmentally friendly materials. And in an effort to celebrate Earth Day every day, the company supports the American Forests Global ReLeaf program, planting trees to offset the carbon emissions from the manufacture and distribution of the company's Tea Tree brand.

In September, when Aveda relaunches its Vintage Clove Shampoo, the caps on every bottle will be made with recycled bottle caps the company has collected from offices and schools around the country. The company plans to do this with other products going forward.

Aveda even brought its efforts to Fashion Week in February. The company replaced bottled water with New York City tap water to eliminate the use of 300 plastic water bottles. It eliminated the use of fur in shows and served organic, locally sourced food to models, stylists and makeup artists. And it printed all programs and show invitations on recycled paper.

"The truth is, we can't reverse the damage that we as a collective whole have already done to the Earth," says Dominique Conseil, president of Aveda. "But what is important now is lessening our footprint and improving upon what we will leave for the future. We all have to do our part."