Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Green Options: Ecopreneurist Disgusted By Trash, Ecopreneur Takes Action

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, we feature a post that was originally published by MC Milker on July 10 on Ecopreneuirst. Today's post is about two of my favorite green issues: green business and reusable bags.

Reusable bag entrepreneur Andy Keller has a lot to say about being well, an entrepreneur. Andy was a software guy back in 2005 when he happen to visit a landfill during a home improvement project and was shocked to discover just how many plastic bags were swirling in the wind…

…on fences, on trash heaps, with birds picking on them….

He told me that this was the moment that got him started on his entrepreneurial adventure. “Note to self,” he said, “I need to start using reusable bags.”

Of, course, back in 2005, the reusable bag trend was just starting. And, people were then, as they are now, carefully purchasing them and carelessly leaving them in the car instead of carrying them into the store with them.

So, Andy set out to create a reusable bag that was easy to carry and harder to leave in the car. ChicoBag, his growing company, manufactures light, washable and easy to carry bags in a variety of fun colors. The bags roll up into a handy carrying pouch and come with a belt or purse clip for added convenience.

So far, business is booming, but slowly… by design. When asked about advice he would give to other ecopreneurs Andy stressed slow growth was key. He also encouraged would be entrepreneurs to be passionate about their business….not to look at it purely as a business venture, but rather as a lifestyle.

Part of that passion for him is helping to rid the world of plastic bags so a key part of his business plan is the recycling program he has set up.

ChicoBag doesn’t want ANY reusable bag to be left in a dark closet or sent to a landfill.

Send us all of your tired masses of reusable bags, functional or not. We will distribute them to fixed and low income families ready to start a reusable bag habit or recycle them into new useful products.

Like many an entrepreneur, distressed by a situation, Andy set out to fix it. Well Done. Andy has a little side business going on here...producing these little Bag Monster videos. I'm going to follow up on this example of viral marketing and how it has worked for him.

Read More Posts About Ecopreneurs:

Naturally Successful: Inspiring Videos for Green Entrepreneurs

Ecopreneurs: We Must Be the Change

California Based Ecopreneur Aims to Bring Electric Cars to the Masses

Green Book Reviews - Ready, Set, Green by Graham Hill & Meaghan O'Neill (+ Free Book Giveaway)

In it's own way, 'Ready, Set, Green: Eight Weeks to Modern Eco-Living' can become an important book. It is a well written introduction to green living, that covers the basics, answers the most common questions and busts some myths while at it. It also gives very specific action items to tick off over a well structured period of eight weeks.

Written by Graham Hill and Meaghan O'Neill of TreeHugger.com, one of the most popular on-line green Meccas, it gets credibility and potential audience among the site's wired following. Add to that the fact that about a year ago TreeHugger was acquired by Discovery Communications, owners of the Discovery Channel, and here's a chance for bona fide green mass media exposure.

That is why I was surprised to realize that I really need to look relatively hard in order to find mentions of the book on TreeHugger.com (small link in the navigation bar to the book's Amazon page, of all places) or Discovery's Planet Green website (it is featured only at the Discovery shop), and that's only two months since the publication date.

Approaching the book, I was reminded of the introduction to 'The Omnivore's Dilemma'. There, Michael Pollen was illustrating how convoluted our food culture has become, so that the answer to the most trivial of questions, “What should we have for dinner?” becomes a complex endeavor, with the answer changing from fad diet to the other:

Somehow this most elemental of activities—figuring out what

to eat—has come to require a remarkable amount of expert help. How

did we ever get to a point where we need investigative journalists to tell

us where our food comes from and nutritionists to determine the dinner

menu?” (The Omnivore's Dilemma, Page 1)

The current influx of green living how-to books is coming to answer an even more basic question, that of “How should we live?” Hill & O'Neill are not afraid to give an answer and chunk it down to a bite-sized “Eight Week to Modern Eco-Living” program, echoing the famous Eight Weeks to Optimum Health diet by alternative medicine's poster doctor, Andrew Weil.

Marketing and packaging aside, do they deliver? I think they do. Each of the eight weeks in this lifestyle diet is dedicated to another aspect of life, represented in one chapter each:

Week one: How to think like a TreeHugger – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Week Two: Food & Drink

Week Three: Cleaning and Interior D├ęcor

Week Four: Transportation

Week Five: Greening Your Home – Energy Consumption, Water, and Building

Week Six: Clothing and Personal Care

Week Seven: At the Office

Week Eight: R&R (Travel, Sport, Entertainment), Volunteering, and Activism.

Each chapter has the look & feel of a mini school textbook on the topic, only much more enjoyable to read. True to the “more hip than hippy” TreeHugger.com style, the writing is clear, with added tables, lists, illustrations and Q&A expert sections, that are actually on topic help divide the information into digestible bits.

The action items are at the end of each chapter and are divided to two types.

Save the Planet in Thirty Minutes or Less” action items are what Ed Begley Jr. likes to call 'the low hanging fruits'. These are fairly easy and immediate ways to make a different, like starting to use a reusable coffee cup that week, or switching to at least one Earth-friendly house cleaning product.

The second type of action items are “So you Want to Do More” and are relatively deeper or more difficult commitments. Choosing apparel made of hemp or bamboo doesn't sound so difficult and life-changing, but becoming a Client Project ambassador certainly is.

All in all these actions can add up. Every reader that follows this eight week program, and adopts only the 30 minute fix-its, would be making a significant positive change in their life, and will be doing a thousand times more than most people to help reverse climate change.

But like changing your diet according to a set regime, the outline is useful only as far as there are strong personal motivations and commitments to take the plunge. I believe that these kind of lifestyle eco-diets are going to be successful in making a difference on a large scale only if there is enough support for the individual who pledged to go for it. I am talking about the likes of support groups a-la “weight watchers” and specialized 8-week eco-coaches to those who can afford it. Heck, why not a relaxation tape with subliminal messages reminding you not to leave the travel mug at home while at it? One thing is certain, we need all the help we can get.

Title: Ready, Set, Green: Eight Weeks to Modern Eco-Living

Authors: Graham Hill and Meaghan O'Neill

Publisher: Villard (a Random House imprint)

Published: May, 2008

Pages: 240


One lucky reader can receive a free copy of the book directly from yours truly. This review copy has been with me the last few weeks in bus stops, the beach and the kitchen table, so expect reasonable wear and tear and an Eco-Libris sticker. Yep, we'll plant a tree to balance out the paper used in making this copy.

How to win? Simply – write a comment below, suggesting ingenious ways of convincing a reluctant domestic partner to join and support you in the eight weeks commitment. Good luck :)

[submissions accepted until Saturday, 12PM PST. The winner will be announced the following day]

Eylon @ Eco-Libris

Plant a Tree for every Book you Read!