I’m So-So Sustainable. How About You?

Adunate's windmill

I’m starting a web design project for JWR, Inc., a major supplier of waste-to-recycling solutions. Meeting with their eco-forward team, which includes NewWay Global Energy, is like a shot in the arm of “I-wanna-save-the-earth” greenness.

Of course, this forces me to sit back and examine myself. I’m like all of you—I like to think I’m doing my fair share of green living. I work from home and save in commuting costs. We heat our home by burning wood that we cut ourselves (heck, we don’t even use air-conditioning). And we garden and raise our own meat.

But for all this, I wonder if I’m truly living a sustainable life? For every green thing I do, it seems there are anti-green consequences.

Take working from home, for example. I love my office in this old house out in the country (that’s my windmill by the way—isn’t it cool?). But really, whenever I need to meet a client, purchase office supplies or get out just to stay sane, I drive at least ten miles one way to the nearest town (a rather small town at that). A trip to Madison or Milwaukee, which I do weekly, is 45 miles one way. Obviously, I can’t get too smug about my not-so-minimal carbon emissions.

What I can do though is keep plugging away, even if it seems to be of little effect.

I can minimize electricity usage and shut down my technology at night (oh, that’s a hard one). I can make full use of my computers and not upgrade with every new gadget. I can educate my clients of sustainable paper options and environmentally-friendly inks.

I’m betting there is more I can do. In fact, Wisconsin has several organizations that offer education and point-based recognition to businesses striving to be sustainable.

  • Green Masters Program enables “Wisconsin businesses of all sizes and from all sectors to understand what needs to be done to justifiably claim that they are ‘on the road to sustainability.’ “
  • Travel Green Wisconsin is the “first state-sponsored sustainable travel green certification program in the nation and has become a model for sustainable travel efforts both nationally and internationally.”
  • Organic Consumers Association is a directory of eco-friendly products and businesses. Choose your state.

Anyone know of similar groups in other states? Or how about your ideas for operating a green business?

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