The biggest contribution you can make toward affecting real and positive change is to be a green educated professional working for an UNgreen company. Eco-by-stealth is the most powerful tool for deep change and it’s easier than you’d think.
Do what you do best: create innovative and cost-effective solutions, and focus on the money savings or other advantages of your solution save the green details for later. When the result is a huge success, your company’s decision makers will value you as part of their competitive advantage, and will want to know more about how to apply your techniques to other areas and projects, resulting in a win all around.
Here are three short case studies highlighting average people who saw an Eco opportunity in their ungreen job and just “went for it.” (Names changed to protect the stealthy advocates.)
The Design Firm uses a LOT of paper, for proofs, reports, job tickets and so on, in addition to color-corrected light bulbs, markers, presentation boards, and other consumables. The Design Firm is a fairly typical business: it sources its supplies from the same place for many years, and never really looks for what might be available. In an effort to ensure timely ordering of supplies, as well as suggesting green alternatives, one of the production artists simply created and posted an ordering list of preferred supplies. In one ordering cycle The Design Firm went from no eco anything to: 100% recycled content paper, VOC free markers, reusable mounting boards, and energy saving (color corrected) compact florescent bulbs.
The Office was in a building that did not offer recycling. The workers asked management to start recycling, but they simply replied that recycling was too expensive without doing any research. The workers, unhappy with being ignored, organized their own recycling pool, alternating who took the week’s recycling home for pick-up each week.
The City had just elected a new mayor who was very keen to turn things green and move into the future. Beaming with pride at the press conference to announce the new initiatives, one of the long time bureaucrats leaned in to her neighbor and said, smiling, It will be nice to be able to do what we’ve been doing for the last 10 years out in the open finally.
Wendy Jedlicka, CPP, is president of Jedlicka Design Ltd. (jedlicka.com), chapter chair for o2-USA/Upper Midwest and US-National Co-Coordinator for the o2 Global Sustainable Design Network (o2.org). She is also a member of the packaging and economics faculty for Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s ground-breaking Sustainable Design Certificate Program (online.mcad.edu).