President-Elect Obama just announced his goal of creating 2.5 million "green" jobs as part of his economic stimulus package. Governor Schwarzenegger is big on entrepreneurs and businesses as a driving force behind "greening" our state on so many levels. Van Jones, fellow HuffPo Blogger and now NY Times best-selling author, is making huge green waves with his Green For All.
We EcoPreneurs are on the front lines, not waiting around for the government to tell us what they think we should do, but doing what we think we should do and what we are passionate about.
Darren Moore, Owner, Ecovations; Cynthia Kiktavi, Owner, AGL Grass (as seen on Living With Ed); Paige Donner, Owner, Greening Hollywood
Greening Hollywood launched our first-ever EcoPreneur Salon, where environmentally conscious entrepreneurs can gather together to share knowledge and resources with each other on this quest toward "doing well by doing good." To be an EcoPreneur is not rocket science. It's simply infusing environmental practices in the everyday running of your business and, in many instances, capitalizing on a new product or service that is inherently environmental or furthers environmental causes as its built-in feature.
Co-host Lisa Peri, CEO of Lucky Earth, a waterless car wash solution, is exemplary of this latter type. Lucky Earth is a product she and her husband developed in response to her young children's allergic reactions to chemicals found in car wash solutions. Lucky Earth is not only organic but its main feature, namely that it uses no water -- not a drop of water -- to get your car clean, means that it's respectful of the environment and helps alleviate this critical issue of water shortage throughout our state. It also speaks directly to our Southern California car culture and our predilection for not just watering our lawns but running our hoses while we wash our cars, too.
Lucky Earth was able to nab seed funding through Funk Ventures and the company's start-up is being shepherded by Fran Seegull of Funk Ventures.
Co-host Paige Anderson started her Bash Events, a party planning company, several years ago. Also a mother of young children, she kept getting calls to do kids' birthday parties and found that she had become "very popular on the nursery school circuit." A few months ago, with the help of Rachel Sarnoff, Owner of EcoStiletto, Anderson threw her first Eco event in July when she helped with Sarnoff's launch party for EcoStiletto in W. Hollywood.
Each are excellent examples of 1) developing a green product in answer to environmental considerations and consumer demand and 2) tailoring an existing business to incorporate environmental considerations in what you already do.
Other attendees included Jennifer Regan, AEG's sustainabality expert; Diana Dehm, partner at Environmental Resources Management; Christiane Maertens, Disney's Environmentality executive; Leah Ross and Kathryn Sweeney, Border Girls' sustainable catering experts; Cynthia Kiktavi of AGL Grass by Kiktavi as seen on Living With Ed Living With Ed; Magda and daughter Lula, Owner of WildChildWear and Visionary, an eco-boutique in Hollywood; Darren Moore, host of Discovery's Alter Eco and his own Ecovations TM; Jessica Peltz, Founder of GoToGreenLA; Veronika Judish, John Paul Dejoria's sustainability adviser; Nicole Landers, Founder of eConnectGroup; Katia Louise, Founder of Wild For Life Productions; Rachel Winokur, Founder, Etta Designs; Dana Luong, designer of Eco Shoes; and Rachel Hurn-Maloney, Owner of Vie On Third, an eco-boutique.
Since we're all on the front lines and lean on one another for a sense of community and fellowship while building our businesses and conducting outreach to the wider community, we decided to have fun with an activity.
First we helped ourselves to delightful drinks mixed with vodka provided by 360 Vodka. The "luxury vodka" in every bottle of 360 is Quadruple Distilled through a highly energy efficient process, with every bushel of grain being fully utilized and nothing going to waste. 360 is also Five Times Filtered and produced at a facility that has improved its eco-footprint measurably over the past 5 years. Wine was provided by Nelson Family Vineyards, who also practices earth-friendly distillation and sustainable business methods.
Then after we'd filled our plates with the organic appetizers of mini-empanadas and bacon-wrapped-stuffed-dates provided by Border Girls' Ciudad kitchen, we each wrote down a burning business question relevant to our respective endeavor. We threw those in a big bowl and then the questions were chosen randomly and read out loud.
The first question was about Teleconferencing as a way to cut down on heavy business travel so as to reduce our carbon footprint and what system is the best one to use? Answers came fast and packed with information from our two serious sustainability experts in the group, ERM's Diana Dehm and AEG's Jennifer Regan, both of whom are leaders in the field of corporate environmental responsibility.
How Do We Make Green Invisible?
The next question was of a more philosophical bent and provoked much lively discussion. Namely, it had to do with how do we break out of our (self-described) cool, hip little L.A. eco-bubble and really reach people all across the country and the globe about infusing environmental practices in their daily lives as a lifestyle choice? Debate bubbled around the various viewpoints that simply buying organic cotton clothing from Wal-Mart, for example, does not make you "green" to viewpoints that countered that every little bit helps and that there ought to be tolerance shown towards one another as we shift our mainstream society towards ecological practices.
Lula Rodd and Frosty. Lula's wearing vintage and Mohop shoes. "Walkin' the walk at 10," points out proud mom, Magda.
EcoPreneurs are here to stay. We would love to hear from you. We envision that EcoPreneurs takes off and blossoms into a sustainable model of fellowship amongst those of us who are on the front lines doing it for ourselves the earth-friendly way. Give us a shout: firstname.lastname@example.org.