this world a better place? Feeling those Monday morning blues? Get out of the
cubicle track of working for someone else. Blend your green lifestyle with your
livelihood and become an ecopreneur: launch a business reflecting your passion
for caring for the planet and people.
Here are some tips to get started, with much more detail found in
the book, ECOpreneuring: Putting Purpose and the Planet Before
1. Identify your Earth Mission
Your Earth Mission is that overarching springboard
from which your business, livelihood, and life launch forward that respects
nature and fosters socially just relationships with all life. Much more than a
job title on a cookie cutter business card, an Earth Mission drives ecopreneurs
to create enterprises that are ecologically restorative, socially responsible,
and that measure their success in how they build community wealth in a living
economy, not just adding cash to the bank account.
If your Earth Mission is to help create a healthy food system and
support local foods, your business could be a restaurant that showcases
Minnesota-grown fare or a non-profit organization that fosters hands-on
experiences for kids on farms. Green travel and ecotourism businesses provide
opportunities to connect travelers with experiences that support local
economies, respect area habitat and may also run on renewable energy and
feature local foods.
2. Be Fossil Fuel Free
By calling your own self-employed shots, you can
significantly decrease the amount of fossil fuel you consume. Working from home
and eliminating the daily commute ranks a significant first step as the average
American now spends 100 hours annually commuting. Additionally, you can
purchase green energy from your local utility or even install on-site renewable
3. Keep Diversified
Just like Mother Nature, aim to keep your business
diversified and not put all your eggs in one basket. On my own Wisconsin farm,
our small, diversified businesses could be their own zip code: a bed-and-breakfast,
organic farm, a marketing consulting company, an electricity utility that
harvests power from the wind and the sun. Some enterprises generate revenue
while others save on expenses through self-reliance, such as growing our own
4. Engage in Multiple Economies
Ecopreneurs realize there’s more to business than
just cash transactions. Instead of always hitting the store, ecopreneurs often
barter and exchange with others. Looking for an office desk? Tap into the
collecting and reuse economy and ask around or use on-line exchange resources.
Chances are there’s a desk sitting in someone’s garage that you can have for
free. Ecopreneurs prioritize the household economy: achieving greater
self-reliance on the home front through things like growing your own food and
caring for children (versus daycare).
5. Define Your Good Life
Get out of the bigger-is-better mentality; instead,
define the "good life" on your own terms, prioritizing quality of life versus a
hefty bank account and piles of stuff. By operating lean and green, avoiding
debt and feeling passionate and inspired about one’s work, ecopreneurs craft
lifestyles and livelihoods based on their passion to leave this world a better
Lisa Kivirist is the co-author of ECOpreneuring and Rural
Renaissance and is a W.K. Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow. She and her
family operate the nationally-recognized green B&B, Inn Serendipity, in
Green Routes, greenroutes.org
Profiles of sustainable ruralÂ businesses,
Purpose and the Planet Before Profits, by Lisa Kivirist & John
Ivanko, ecopreneuring.biz, New Society Publishers, 2008.
Rural Renaissance: Renewing
the Quest for the Good Life, by Lisa Kivirist & John Ivanko,
ruralrenaissance.org, New Society Publishers, 2004.
The Angry Trout CafÃ©
Notebook: Friends, Recipes and the Culture of Sustainability, by
George Wilkes, www.angrytroutcafe.com, Northwind Sailing, 2004.
The author in her garden.