A Proposal for Endorsements of Green Industries

Increasing our validity, expanding our knowledge, improving our vision, and turning a deeper shade of green through making official statements of endorsement of green industries.

By Dianne Burnham

"The Buckeye Forest Council supports and promotes the transition from heavily polluting energy sources, namely coal and nuclear power, to renewable, green energy. Wind and solar energy generators offer the best opportunities to improve environmental quality, while providing jobs and income to the areas that they serve. Ohio’s rural communities can benefit from this era of deregulation by pursuing the production and sale of green energy." – from the BFC Constitution

Over the past few decades, many Americans discovered our government’s and industry’s thoughtless disrespect for our air, our land, our water, and our wildlife. This has triggered the formation of hundreds of grassroots organizations -- people banding together to protect their land or try to save a little piece of something clean and right – a drama that has been playing out across America. These agonizing, angry, exhausting battles have been called America’s "dire national story." All over America politicians and regulators have turned a deaf ear to the citizens in order to benefit corporate interest. Our innocence died when we discovered our own Uncle Sam is only responsive to big money.

After battling as individual groups we realized that forming network organizations were better able to meet the tasks on hand, e.g., Tri-State Citizens Mining Network, Citizens Coal Council, Pennsylvania Environmental Network and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. By coming together under a bigger umbrella, we were not simply improving our communication and drawing strength and courage from each other, but we were demonstrating a concern that extends beyond our own backyards. In addition to forming a pool of experience and skills, we became more fully aware of the extent of the problem. This was an important step to gain strength, personal growth, and a larger sense of responsibility.

Now, we need to go one step further to help defend our environment. As an extension of our concerns, we might become more aware of the consumer driven causes of environmental damage. In fact, there should be a special relationship between the commodity that has caused the destruction and how we view the use of it. If global warming is your focus, then fossil fuel use either in the form of gasoline or coal would be your associated consumer issue. You might even become very conscious of how much fossil fuel your family uses and take steps to reduce their use.

Consumerism is an important factor in our issues. Voting with our dollars has become as powerful as voting. To win this war we must both VOTE WISELY and PURCHASE THOUGHT- FULLY. We break the bonds of corporate control over our lives, when we make conscious decisions about how we spend our money. But, when we purchase something SIMPLY because it is cheaper, or when we discount anything that does not make a profit, we fall in line with the corporate mindset. This is the mindset that controls our lawmakers and is destroying our environment. It is our purchases that give them the profit to make those outrageous campaign contributions and hire the advertising staff to keep us convinced that we need more and more despite the fact that we already consume more than any other nation on earth in the history of the world.

Our own brand of consumerism is an important ingredient of our image. If you saw a bumper sticker that read "Think globally, act locally" on a gigantic SUV, that sucks gas and spews pollution, wouldn’t you suspect the owner hadn’t thought his position through and was certainly not practicing what he preached? Would you believe that his/her dedication or even his sticker very serious? The bumper sticker, the owner, and the cause would loose validity.

Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute has pointed out that we have all the technologies now to grow in ways that do not compromise our air, our water, our planet. But we must support those non-polluting green industries through our purchases. For example, if we purchased non-polluting products in recyclable containers, organic foods in-season, and clean green energy, we would be supporting the growth of environmentally sensitive industries. And, yes, they are more expensive to the consumer (about 10-20% in my experience), but I consider these decisions to be moral issues and a gift to my precious earth—a small sacrifice with great returns. Gandhi said that anything we do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that we do it.

Perhaps by now we are beginning to recognize the connection between environmental issues and consumerism and even recognize the need for validity and consistency, but currently do not have the knowledge, the energy, or the means to make any changes that would reflect our new consciousness. I propose we take this important initial step toward establishing this important connection by making an official statement of endorsement that we share with our members and each other. An endorsement could begin to get us where we need to go. There is no doubt that Americans living a sustainable lifestyle is the ultimate answer to most of our problems. Let’s take a step towards that goal and increase our validity while we do it. I urge you to expand your knowledge, improve your vision, and grow into a deeper shade of green. Once we make our endorsements let’s bridge that with technology and green industry.

Below is an abbreviated list of endorsement possibilities:

t Campaign Finance Reform (an endorsement of highest priority)

t Clean Green Renewable Energy

t Alternative Non-polluting Autos (Hybrids and Fuel Cell Autos)

t County wide Recycling and Composting Programs

t Organic Produce

I would add a word of caution. Start your endorsement with stated ideals as the Buckeye Forest Council has done in the opening paragraph. There are many scam companies that would have you believe they are green when in fact they are not. If you stick to wording ideals, you will avoid endorsements of any particular company until you have had time to thoroughly do your homework.

If your group has difficulty writing an official looking endorsement, check the website of Friends of the Earth at www.foe.org or Sierra Club at www.sierraclub.org and type in "endorsements" into the search engine. Many examples will appear with formats to follow. Or you may contact me at BurnhamD@cs.com or (304) 232-0590.

Dianne Burnham is involved with the Wheeling Environmentalists and Friends of Dysart Woods