This book is a comprehensive, yet practical, guide for people looking to get in on the burgeoning green career path. It guides the reader through various jobs fields, areas of the country where the most growth will be, education and training opportunities, and the top companies in each field.
Foreword: By Tim Center, Esq., Director, Sustainable Florida – Collins Center, Vice President, Sustainability Initiatives, Collins Center for Public Policy, Florida.
One of my favorite drinks growing up was Welch’s grape soda. It was always a treat to drink a soda as a kid. And I’d be sure to get every drop from that can; tilting it back and slurping the few remaining drops from its lip. A small feeling of sadness might develop when it was all gone – especially if I was still thirsty. I can tell you that my young daughter has the same impulses.
Well, that soda can is very much like our planet in that it has a finite amount in it – whether it be uranium, oil, natural gas, coal, fish in the ocean, water, or any of the many other natural elements that are used to feed us, to power our homes and businesses, or to make our cell phones, batteries, computers, and so forth.
In fact, according to some studies, at the rate of consumption of our natural resources, we would need several planets to sustain us. How can we continue to enjoy a quality of life with abundance and opportunity today, while ensuring the same for our kids and their kids?
This brings us to the word ‘sustainability’, which can mean so much to so many. The Brundtland Commission defined the term in its 1987 report to the United Nations as meeting ‘the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ I think the Boy Scouts of America say it a little better – leave your campsite better than the way you found it. It is perhaps best captured in these three words: people, planet, profit.
In this era of going green, reducing our carbon footprint, ending our dependence on foreign oil, and addressing the challenges of climate change, we tend to avoid the real issue. It’s really about survivability. And it’s not about the survivability of the planet – it’s about the survivability of the people who live here. That is why the issue of the green collar economy is so inspiring. It addresses so many of our motivations.
From a business perspective, this issue presents an opportunity to move society into the next revolution – away from the pollution, waste, and toxicity of the industrial revolution – toward clean, renewable, cradle-to-cradle processes that inspire and lighten our demand on natural resources.
I begin with business because it is often really about money – even when everyone says it isn’t. Think about it. Do you have a compact fluorescent light-bulb lighting your home? Yes? Perhaps you have a lot of them. Let me ask you. Did you buy them to save the polar bears? Or did you buy them because (1) someone told you that you would save money on your power bill and (2) they didn’t cost too much more than traditional incandescent light-bulbs? The fact that they help us collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions through reduced demand for energy is a bonus.
Well, look at Unilever – this multi-national conglomerate is the largest seller of frozen fish sticks – which has been purchasing from sustainable fisheries for a decade. This is not so they can put a label on the package, but because – without fish in the ocean – they do not have fish sticks to sell. Marriott Hotels purchased for preservation 1.4 million acres of Brazilian rain forest. With hundreds of properties along the coastlines worldwide, keeping the lungs of the planet healthy might keep sea levels from rising and flooding their resort lobbies.
Environmentally, companies are expected to do more and to respect the communities in which they operate. Thanks to federal regulations of the 1960s and 1970s, companies have implemented environmental management systems, and the economics of environmental impacts are beginning to be included on the balance sheet.
This has perhaps become most obvious in the green building movement. Green building principles help reduce the waste of building resources, the impact on the building site, and the consumption of resources during the operating life of a building – all of these things helps the environment, while helping save money up front and for the long term of the occupant. This results in a win-win-win for the developer, the owner, and the community. Of course, the logical way to go is for green building to become known simply as building, as we all adopt a new paradigm.
This brings us back to the people and our community. Sustainable organizations do more than simply take – whether it is the area’s natural resources or the talent of its people – from the communities in which they operate. They become an integral component, adding value through contributions to their community. Whether through charitable gifts or community investment, those in the community benefit through opportunity and social capital.
In each of these situations, those engaged in the greening of their organizations are becoming more efficient – reducing expenses, reducing waste, and increasing profits. Employees expand their skill sets. Companies hire employees with specialized training in new areas, and they contract with groups that can help provide additional levels of service.
Once they begin to live green, the organizations begin to offer new lines of business. One example is when a waste stream can become a revenue stream. Another is when accounting firms have identified as a new line of service the audit of companies pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – a fresh take on their audit practice with a green hue.
Hopefully, this provides a greater context – albeit a brief look – for why the green collar economy is so important. We must have a workforce – and a management structure – trained to understand how they can make a meaningful contribution toward economic prosperity and environmental stewardship, both for the organization they work for and for the community in which they live. Sustainable organizations should be more resilient in economic downturns, be able to recruit and retain employees and stakeholders of the highest moral and professional character, and enhance brand awareness by making public their commitments to more than just the bottom line.
As businesses begin to adopt – and report on – the triple bottom line, and the marketplace comes to expect – if not demand – this approach, we return to a common theme. One principle that binds each generation to the next is our sincere desire and hope for a better tomorrow. For the next fiscal year. For the ecosystems that support the flora and fauna and us. And, perhaps, most important, for our grandchildren and beyond.
I encourage you to evaluate how you personally and professionally can adopt and implement the principles offered in the following pages. Collectively, we can have a tremendously positive impact on our economy, on the environment, and on those with whom we share this incredible planet.
‘Green Collar Jobs: Environmental Careers for the 21st Century’ is a comprehensive, yet practical, guide for people looking to get in on the burgeoning green career path. From stormwater to alternative energy, the future of jobs in sustainability-related fields is trending upwards and will only continue to do so. This book guides the reader through various jobs fields, areas of the country where the most growth will be, education and training opportunities, and the top companies in each field. The book also looks at public sector options, jobs in the hard sciences, green jobs around the globe, and niche career paths.
Scott M. Deitche has 15 years of experience in environmental management, particularly in stormwater-related areas, surface water quality monitoring, and marine fisheries management. Scott has presented at numerous environmental conferences, is active in professional environmental groups. He currently works for GPI Southeast, and environmental consulting and engineering firm.
He is also the author of 6 books, including ‘Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld’ (Barricade Books, 2004), ‘The Silent Don: The Criminal World of Santo Trafficante Jr.’ (Barricade Books, 2007), ‘The Everything Mafia Book: Revised Edition’ (Adams Media, 2009), and ‘Balls: The Life of Eddie Trascher, Gentleman Gangster’ (Barricade Books, 2009). Scott has appeared on A&E, The Discovery Channel; The History Channel; local NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox affiliates; local and national radio programs. Scott has written articles and reviews for newspapers, magazines, and the web.
Review: By Midwest Book Reviews – 5 Star
‘Green Collar Jobs: Environmental Careers for the 21st Century’ offers a survey of green jobs and green career paths, offering a reference to help students and job seekers find the latest job resources and information on environmental careers. From discussions of green jobs from environmental, economic and political perspectives to surveys of alternative energy and green building, as well as global job opportunities, this is a ‘must’ for any career library.
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