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It's Not Easy Being Green

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2014-05-09-32183_10151393788600415_1417407436_n1.jpg

By Chris Drakeford

"It's not easy being green," In today's world, green is everywhere from supermarkets to car showrooms. But to be honest, I had not given much thought to green until I was introduced to Ayr Muir and the Clover Food Truck, a green business on MIT's campus. Through an internship at MIT's Community Innovator's Lab, a research center associated with the department of Urban Studies and planning, I created a short documentary about Clover.

Ayr, an MIT graduate, gave up a job on Wall Street to create his dream business, the Clover Food Truck. He found innovative ways to deal with the many obstacles that green businesses face, such as limited investment funds for green technologies, limited customer interest in green products, and customer unwillingness to pay a premium for the products. Clover did not heavily promote the fact that it was green, but instead concentrated on building a base of regular customers by making great food. While many people might shy away from a menu stacked with vegan sandwiches, the truth is that the food was simply delicious. In fact, several customers we interviewed were not even aware of how green Clover was. Clover's prices were comparable to, if not better, than those of other local eateries. Ayr was able to maintain lower prices by purchasing his organic food from local suppliers, avoiding the cost of shipping food from further away.
Every aspect of Clover's operation was designed with sustainability in mind. The truck itself was built with many recycled materials, such as the counter made from a local red oak that fell during a storm. It was equipped with energy-efficient appliances, and the staff used less than 20 gallons of water a day in food preparation. In addition, the truck was fueled partially by biodiesel (french-fry oil).

As a person who had little prior knowledge about sustainability, I learned a great deal from Ayr and the Clover truck. I learned that sustainability has many faces, whether it is wind power and other alternate forms of energy, or the little green things we can do each day. I now find that I am much more conscious about habits like recycling, switching to fluorescent lights and turning them off when not in use, and using less water. I spent very little time thinking about such things before my experience with Clover.

The daily lunchtime rush to the truck is evidence that Ayr has overcome the challenge of successfully establishing a green business. It is his philosophy that "businesses have a greater impact on society than anything." Businesses such as the Clover Truck can pave the way to a greener future.

Chris Drakeford is a graduate of Yorktown High School and is currently a senior at Tufts University