Posts tagged ‘economy’
We had a chat with Tracy Hepler this week, an entrepreneur trying to green LA:
Q1 What are you up to at the moment?
Right now I’m constantly working on growing my baby, yourdailythread.com which is an online community space for green, sustainable and local living in Los Angeles. Our goal is to bring green down to the local level. There are wonderful national and global sites out there right now such as treehugger.com or grist.org, but they usually don’t focus on neighborhood issues. We try to focus on things that you can do in your own back yard, from community gardens to local green events—we sift through all green marketing and green washing to bring our readers the crème de la crème of local green issues.
I have also recently co-founded LYFE (Leading Young Future Entrepreneurs) with Hillary Newman (the Ecowarriorr) and Rachel Hurn-Maloney of Vie Eco Fashion Boutique in Los Angeles. LYFE brings together young entrepreneurs who care about the environment and want to network both professional and socially.
I also do freelance writing/blogging for a few other green/cause oriented sites including the Huffington Post Green, Causecast.org and I’m working on a few more side projects including bringing green to the Latino mainstream.
Q2 Why do you do what you do?
After graduating college, I thought I really wanted to work in the entertainment industry as a writer. I soon realized once in the industry that my calling was to use my skills towards work that would help make the world a better place. As cheesy as that might sound, it is true. I feel that climate change and the environment is possibly the most pressing issue of our time and I want to do everything in my power to bring change and inspire everyone to do everything they can to conquer this problem.
Q3 What keeps you awake at night?
Haha, this is funny because I’m currently on vacation and I can’t be away Your Daily Thread for more than a few hours—that is my baby, if you will, and I am so inspired to see it succeed all the way through.
Q4 You mentioned that you’re doing a summer special with YDT – what tips do you have?
Well I missed the 4th, but our tips are applicable for the rest of summer. If I could suggest one big thing it would be to avoid using disposables. For one hour of picnicking or bbqing your plastic plates and forks will sit in the landfill for hundreds of years. I don’t care how tasty you burgers are—it’s not worth it. Bring your own plates from home or if you need to use a form of disposable, use compostable ones from companies like Earth Shell. They’re made in the USA from old potatoes and other scrapes and can be thrown into the compost bin. If you don’t compost and must throw them away, they won’t take nearly as long to biodegrade. You can view the rest of our green summer bbq tips here.
Q5 If you were a g(r)enie, what would you wish for?
I get three wishes I assume!
1) I’d wish for green to be a major priority across, political, social and all other spectrums. I’m happy with the amount of progress we’ve made in the last few years, but I think we’ve got a lot more to do and a stronger sense of urgency is needed.
2) That every household and business in America used a recycling and composting bin so that we would throw less into our landfills.
3) That we’d return to eating healthy real food. I have been a big fan of Michael Pollan for a while and recently saw Food INC—it’s shocking how much of what we eat really isn’t food. I’d wish for a return to more seasonal organic food that everyone could afford.
Penned by Carolyn
Watching this one minute video review of the energy bill in the House, one word resonates again and again: jobs. The potential for job creation in moving towards a clean energy future has become a rallying cry for proponents of the Waxman-Markey Bill — because who can argue with job creation when unemployment has officially hit 9.5% nationally?
In the past couple weeks, the Labor Department announced $500 million in grants for green jobs training programs. States and cities have also started to distribute stimulus dollars for training programs. If you’re interested in who’s getting funding and how, sign up for updates from Green for All — they’ve been giving a number of conference calls to keep folks in the loop and share information nationally about training programs. Most of the money that’s being doled out focuses on helping blue-collar workers transition into the green economy — providing “pathways out of poverty” as the nation undergoes energy retrofits, solar system installation, and more.
But some concerns remain. Yesterday, the New York Times brought into question the effectiveness of retraining programs in giving trainees a leg up in the job search. As the Times wrote, “a little-noticed study the Labor Department released several months ago found that the benefits of the biggest federal job training program were ‘small or nonexistent’ for laid-off workers. It showed little difference in earnings and the chances of being rehired between laid-off people who had been retrained and those who had not.”
Hopefully, the green jobs training programs will avoid the pitfalls that have led to the concerns raised by the NYT article, and will lend a hand to folks from all backgrounds and work histories — we hear from a lot of people who are looking to transfer technical skill sets and haven’t yet found a clear pathway in helping them do so. We have to believe that, with all the energy and enthusiasm focused on the green sector right now, there couldn’t be a better moment for these programs to succeed in training the next generation of environmental leaders.
To that end, we’ll continue to provide advice and resources to our jobseekers (keep an eye out for Bright Green Seminars starting in the next couple months), and we’ll support our partner Solar Richmond as they seek stimulus funding to support their amazing solar installation training program.
Stay tuned… more exciting developments are surely on the way.
Last night, Christina and I attended a debate between Carl Pope (Executive Director of the Sierra Club) and Dave O’Reilly (CEO of Chevron). Given scheduling and, I imagine, some dragging of feet from both parties, it took the Commonwealth Club and the Wall Street Journal a full year to get this event organized.
On the bus home, a couple thoughts on the event stayed with me.
First, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I worked with the media team in Sierra Club National Headquarters for a couple semesters while I was in school. One of the first things I learned about pitching a story was, of course, that it has to have a hook. One of the most compelling of these hooks is a “strange bedfellows” story, where two groups that wouldn’t traditionally be lumped together that share a common cause or campaign (such as Sierra Club’s “Blue Green Alliance” with the United Steel Workers or their work with hunters and anglers to preserve wildlife habitat).
Last night’s event had some shade of that type of hook – which is probably why it seemed like half of San Francisco was in attendance. This is not to say in any means that Sierra Club and Chevron are in cahoots – in fact, Sierra Club has long made the oil giant a target of campaigns around environmental justice and destruction. However, at one point in the conversation, Dave O’Reilly (consciously or not) conceded that he believed the coal lobby in Washington was too strong for natural gas to have a real chance of being implemented on a large scale. Carl Pope jumped on the opportunity to invite O’Reilly to join him in DC to take a stand against the coal lobby – and the two men shook on it. I’d guess Sierra Club will try to hold O’Reilly to this promise — which he may not be able to wiggle out of, given that the event was swarming with local and national media and will be broadcast on NPR.
Beyond this potential lobbying duo becoming “strange bedfellows,” I think it symbolizes a larger movement towards cooperation between the large non-profits and environmental lobbies and the companies they’ve long been harshly criticizing. At Sierra Club, this move follows last year’s launch of the “GreenWorks” line with Clorox — another case of unprecedented cooperation and dialogue between big industry and the Club.
For us at Bright Green Talent, this is hugely energizing. We too believe that there’s no longer any way to tackle the world’s environmental problems without everyone’s cooperation – this is, for example, why we’ve chosen to work with Wal-Mart to help them grow their sustainability team. Many of the giant green non-profits – Conservation International, EDF, NRDC – are pursuing similar private-public partnerships.
But don’t worry – we’re not letting Chevron off the hook just for shaking hands with the opposition. Pope also called for Chevron and the other large oil companies to set aside 10% of their profits for 10 years to create a fund that would clean up all the communities and ecosystems that have been devastated by oil development over the past century. And we side with Pope and the Sierra Club as they call for ambitious and significant decreases in carbon emissions (80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050), rather than allowing industry to hide behind claims that those goals “just aren’t realistic.” We still need people and organizations to stand up for communities who don’t have a voice — such as the protestors who stood up last night to bring awareness to Chevron’s hand in environmental contamination in Ecuador.
Most significantly, where there used to be a thick wall over which each party hurled insults and accusations, there is now a live and potentially constructive, dialogue. Strange bedfellows or not, it’s time to act together and move towards a prosperous low-carbon future.
Want to see it for yourself?
Reuters also picked up the story, with a great exchange:
Pope criticised U.S. energy regulation for not forcing utilities to buy more low-carbon electricity. “Well, if you can get the government to move faster, then good luck,” O’Reilly said.
Pope replied, to applause: “It would help if you would get out of the way.”
Photo from Sierra Club
Penned by Tom
It’s always good to look at the bottom-line when assessing the environmental movement. There are a plethora of interesting success stories which demonstrate to executives the importance and benefits of going green, even if you’re a climate-change denier. Here are a few examples from Sustainable Business Consulting:
- A Global cleaning products company maximized natural lighting, installed occupancy sensors and enabled employees to control heating and cooling at their work stations. The ROI: Saved nearly $100,000 a year.
- A Fortune 500 global technology company gave employees the option to telecommute from home. The ROI: Saved $67.8 million in real estate costs in just one year and reduced 29,000 tons of CO2 emissions, and increased worker productivity by 34 percent.
- A 41-story, Class A+ office building with 1,000,000 square feet of office space located in the US reduced unnecessary after-hours and weekend lighting and initiated a high efficiency lighting retrofit. The ROI: Saved $386,000 in annual operating expenses.
- A Global cleaning products company restored native and drought tolerant plants, such as prairie grass and wild flowers, to the site. ROI: Saved $2,000 per acre in annual maintenance costs.
- A Global forest products company encouraged employees to commute using vanpools, carpools, walking or biking. ROI: Reduced total vehicle miles driven by 1.2 million and reduced emissions by 66,884 pounds of CO2 in one year.
- A US-based independent federal agency developed an advanced preventative maintenance inspection process for its delivery fleet. The ROI: Saved $3 million and 330,000 quarts of oil to date.
- A Cancer research center utilized off-hour lighting, fan shutoffs, occupancy sensors, high-efficiency chillers, L.E.D. exit signs, heat recovery from washers and efficient lighting. The ROI: Saved $317,000 annually, which is enough electricity to power 1,200 homes annually.
- A Medical center sent used toner cartridges to a recycling company that refurbishes and refills them. The ROI: Saved $20,000 annually.
- A Healthcare company recycled more than 6,000 tons of paper, plastic, glass and aluminum waste. The ROI: Saved more than $300,000 in disposal costs, diverted more than 18,000 cubic yards form landfills.
- A Major US-based retailer changed the specifications for individual item packaging and reduced the quantity of excess pins clips, bags, paperboard inserts, tape and tissue paper in its items. The ROI: Saved an estimated $4.5 million in labor costs and eliminated approximately 1.5 million pounds of waste.
Penned by Nick
The question of ethics for environmental employers is a landmine issue that few people explore. In Wendy Jedlicka’s recent article, she suggests that getting a job at a firm with “eco-ethics” is both difficult and desirable. Though true, this misses the more pressing questions about how ethics apply to environmental organizations.
Finding employment with any employer right now — green or otherwise — is difficult. However, this insight doesn’t cut to the core of the question of ethics. Ethics aren’t constrained to “eco” companies alone. As business schools teach the world over, ethics are universal — both in business and in life.
What’s interesting in the domain of environmental companies is that these companies rely on their “ethical business models” to attract employees more than do traditional “brown” employers. The dirty little secret is that employers — from solar companies to sustainability consultancies and the like — rely on jobseekers’ assumption that they are ethical more than other firms because of their “eco” business models.
Having worked with employers worldwide to find and secure the top green talent, its become clear that not everyone embraces the same level of business ethics. Indeed, many businesses fail to highlight their ethics at all when we ask them what separates them from other employers.
Ethics in the environmental business are — at present — largely taken for granted. Yes, most employees at these firms believe they have a more ethical occupation, but the business practices themselves often don’t exude ethics. Quite to the contrary, many of these businesses fail to push their ethical practices as far as their products or services.
At a time when the very value of long-standing business models has been called into question (read: investment banking, insurance, etc), it strikes me that more employers should be focusing on their ethics.
More importantly, both employees and jobseekers of green companies should be challenging these firms to “walk the walk” and create a truly triple bottom line enterprise that embraces sound ethical practices, sound environmental practices and sound business practices.
Jedlicka’s article is right to raise the question about ethics, but readers should examine a company’s purpose/service to determine who’s ethical and who’s not.
Use the interview itself as a place to ask questions about how an employer’s environmental practices translate into more ethical business practices. Questions like these leave little room for maneuvering, but if a jobseeker’s goal is to find an ethical employer, those that are truly ethical will jump at the chance to respond to such a question. If they don’t, you may have found a case where an organization doesn’t truly “walk the walk.”
Continually pushing employers to keep ethics at the center of their businesses — green or otherwise — is the best way to ensure that your values align with your employers’.
Penned by Nick
So I admit it, I’m a news junkie. My fiance is quietly considering putting me into therapy for information addiction disorder. Its got me by the brain, (quickly deteriorating) eyes, and mouse-clicking finger all at once. Worse yet, I don’t want to kick the habit. I crave information and news 24/7.
Just as everyone’s nearing total burnout on the never-ending news stream of bad news, I’m finally feeling in control. It’s weird, but the more I consider it, the more it makes sense. The world’s changing fast right now — particularly for job seekers. Entire industries are rising and falling by the week, and with them, the fortunes of millions of people. The bad news is already a known quantity–it’s the good news that keeps me reading and positive.
At a time when the only certainty is change, I’ve come to enjoy the little news stories that feature people doing positive things with unfortunate events. Consider the new crop of DJ’s popping up in local clubs, or the unemployed who are discovering their thespian talents.
Another small factoid: I consider myself a pessmistic planner with an optimistic outlook. Yes, times are tough, but I’m convinced that from all the penny-penching and thumb-twiddling will come something greater: a cultural renaissance. That the arts are enjoying a newfound constituency in the unemployed is, I believe, a newsworthy story. Out of misfortune and hard times tradtionally come great ideas and a newfound inspiratoin. It’s a story as old as time, but easy to forget. For those who have, join me, and “read all about it“.
On our lunch break today, we saw this guy walking down Market Street in San Francisco: “sign of the times”? All puns aside, we know things are tough out there, but Bright Green Talent is here to help.
- There’s a paucity of good information out there for those who want green jobs;
- Strong federal support for green jobs has generated immense interest, but with few jobs available, many job seekers are starting to view this movement as a “shooting star”; and
- Educational institutions are slow to evolve their curriculum to meet our environmental challenges.
Indeed, despite the warm reception we enjoyed on the East coast, the experience was slightly troubling. Nearly everyone I spoke with is just trying to “figure it out” — “it” being green jobs. How do we create them? How do we train people for them? And what will be their impact in the years ahead?