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Green Business: Sustainability for Everyone

October 5th, 2012 | Posted by Claire Sommer in Green Business

Here’s a guest post I wrote for the NJ Audubon’s Weis Ecology Center Sustainability blog.

I enjoyed writing this educational, consumer-focused piece for visitors to the NJ Audubon website.

7 Ways Sustainability is Positively Changing How We Work, Live, and Raise Our Kids

Have you heard the “S-word” recently? Sustainability. It may have come up on a company’s website under Corporate Responsibility, or your town’s environmental commission. At its simplest, Sustainability means living and working today so that future generations can thrive.

Sustainability grows out of what we used to call being “green” or “environmentally friendly” at home and at work. But, Sustainability is bigger to embrace global challenges.

When we talk about Sustainability, we are talking about combating climate change, building green cities and businesses, improving human health, shifting to renewable energies, and preserving the environment, as a start. These are the things we need to do to leave our children a greener, bluer world.

Whatever you call it, Sustainability is changing how we work, live and raise our kids for the better. Here’s 7 ways—big and small—to get you thinking:

1. Healthier homes: Once hard to find, less-smelly and less-toxic “low VOC” paint is now available at every home improvement store. Safe, effective cleaning products without poison are on every supermarket’s shelves. While still pricier, growing demand for organic milk, eggs, produce and everything else has brought it into reach for more families.

2. Renewable & Clean Energy for Everyone: If someone in your neighborhood, town, or schools doesn’t have solar panels already, you will soon. You might not drive a hybrid car but odds are you know someone who does. More municipal vehicles are being run on lower-polluting natural gas.

3. Savvier Workplaces. Being green is good for business, so companies of all sizes have learned to cut expenses with more efficient CFL and LED lighting, less packaging, starting recycling programs and being more conscious of environmental issues. Don’t see this happening at your job? Start a Green Team and show the bosses how Sustainability helps the bottom line.

4. Lower Energy & Water Bills—We all know that it’s cheaper to save energy than to make it. Put that into practice with energy efficiency fixes like low-flow showerheads, and draft-sealing kits that save you money immediately. Shopping for new home appliances? Energy Star-rated appliances use less electricity, less water, and need less detergent to run well.

5. Technology Connections—From long-distance learning on Ipads to Skyping and live-streaming content, technology brings us together even when we are oceans apart. An amazing pay-by-text app let us donate money to help victims of a natural disaster within minutes. None of us would have been able to imagine that 10 years ago.

6. Stronger Communities—Sustainability helps us take action locally to make our neighborhoods and communities better. Take a look at the Sustainable Jersey program for inspiration about how NJ citizens are taking action to make their hometowns healthier and better places to live.

7. Belief in a better tomorrow for our kids. Here in New Jersey, we just came out of the hottest summer on record. Climate change from increasing carbon emissions is heating up our planet and impacting our lives today. While sobering, I choose to believe that the tide has turned and we can—and are—taking action before it’s too late. I see this truth in school gardens popping up all over, corporate giants like Wal-Mart installing acres of solar panels, recycling becoming normal, and kids who can name 20 kinds of birds on the wing.

In every area of our lives, from work, home, in our town, and at school, Sustainability is about the solutions we are finding together.

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