My Thoughts:

I'm not what you might call a "Tree Hugger." Even though I had long hair in high school, I'm not a "Hippie." I grew up on the Rocky Mountains hiking and camping. I drank out of clear streams and slept next to pristine lakes.

I'm also a business owner and as such know what it means to weigh my practical concerns (survival of my business) against environmental concerns (having a nice place to pitch my tent).

I think there are a lot of people like me who are facing a lot of the same questions with regard to what it means to "Be Green" or even if anything I do will matter.

A lot of this has to do with mixed messages from the media... I received a scathing email from someone admonishing me for promoting CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights). CFLs contain Mercury and they read that Mercury in CFLs is bad. In reality, there is very little Mercury in a CFL and if you don't break it, the Mercury doesn't get introduced into the environment. On the other hand, the reduction in power used by the CFL over the life of the bulb in contrast to that of a standard light bulb will reduce the amount of Mercury spewed into the atmosphere by power plants by at least 14 times. So what the media forgot to say is that using CFLs helps, just don't break them.

I know there are things we (people) are doing to aggravate the balance of our ecosystem. The BP Oil Spill can't really be a good thing and while we might like to blame BP, I still buy gas, I still drive my car and someone needs to get me my oil so I can drive to my client's office. Maybe the real solution is for me to find some way to get around without using oil.

I believe there are small things we can change that will make a difference to the environment, things we can change that would cost nothing or very little. Plastic for example, Have you heard about the Pacific Gyre? 20 years after a plastic bottle is accidently dropped in the ocean off the California coast, it winds up in a garbage patch in the middle of the ocean. As the plastic breaks down in the sun, the fish think it is food and eat it. Then the fish die. I personally think this is something we should probably do something about. If the fish die, we're not too far behind... So how about we find an alternative to plastic or at the very least, quit putting it in the ocean which would cost nothing!

My Vision:

Some people believe that 5 gallon water dispensers in the office are bad for the environment. 5 gallon bottles get thrown out, delivery uses gas and the resources to process, clean and fill the bottles. It's better to filter and use tap water. However, in my office, we are about 4oo feet from the nearest water source. I don't have water delivered, I take my 5 gallon containers to the store and fill them at the same time I'm making a grocery run. I've used the same bottles for about 3 years now. I think in this case, that generality may not apply to my organization and I believe it is these little differences that make it impossible for a "one size fits all" certificate to get the job done.

My mission is to make this site more than just a certificate icon you can put on your site. It is more than just the warm fuzzy feeling you get because you told people you're doing something for the environment (no matter how great or small). I see this site becoming the primary resource for all businesses on valid sustainable practices.

Being Green is in many ways different for each business and I would like to see as many businesses and as many people as possible involved in the same conversation regardless of where they are located and what they do.

When get your certificate on this site, you are showing people what you are doing to be green. Perhaps you do filter tap water, perhaps you do use a 5 gallon dispenser. Perhaps both answers are right depending on the business. Perhaps, you are doing something different that sparks an idea in someone else and sharing that revelation helps all of us especially the fish who die from eating plastic.

Success does not occur in a vacuum. If we really want to take on Sustainability in our businesses, it's much easier with the help of others and if we all take advantage of the Conversation on this web site, we can find a lot more solutions a lot faster and with a lot less effort than any of us can individually.

My Concerns:

My biggest concern... not being taken seriously by the "Green Community." I've met people who believe businesses must pay, that we (business owners) must be willing to go bankrupt if necessary to make up for all the evil things we've done to the environment. Bankruptcy is not something Green Certified Web advocates. Zero footprint; it's an honest objective but don't go out of business to get there, that doesn't help. There are inexpensive ways to get there, in some cases, ways that increase profit. Do those first then if you have a little extra, put it where it will do the most good for you, your business and our ecosystem.

This site is about the Journey to Sustainability and my concern is that someone somewhere may tell you it's not good enough. In reality, your certificate here is a statement that you are making an effort, this is something to be proud of. Maybe going through our interview gives you more ideas and in a few weeks, you can add to your list of accomplishments. That to me would be the definition of success.

What really matters is are you willing to make a difference? Is what you're doing right now good enough or do you want to do more? Can you see how demonstrating to your customers that you are serious about ecology will help your business and help cut through the media conflict and confusion about sustainability? Will being connected with like minded business owners benefit you and your business?

Being Green is a journey not a destination. Don't take that journey alone. It's a lot more fun with the help of others.

One More thing:

I saw Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Leno a while back. She was talking about her commitment to sustainability. As a self appointed spokesperson for the environment, she takes it upon herself to practice what she preaches (and I think she does so admirably). Being Leno, he pointed out the fact she uses an electric toothbrush. She seemed to falter a bit and apologetically pointed out she does have a nice smile!

My point is that this is not something she needed to apologize for. Energy, technology, power and natural resources are not here for us to abuse but they are here for us to use. An electric toothbrush is not an abuse of the environment. It helps us keep our teeth healthy longer, it keeps us from using up gas driving to the dentist to get our teeth fixed. There is nothing wrong with that.

Being Green is not about moving the clock back 500 years, using candles for lighting and walking to the nearest village every month to pick up supplies (They also had bad teeth back then). It's about considering the environment and asking, "Is this worth it?" and based on your smile Julia Louis-Dreyfus, it is clearly worth it.

Thank You,
Chuck Peavey

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