HG: SustainAbility Column January 03, 2009

Green America Resources

A new year is upon us,  filled with resolutions and fresh starts on the national and personal level. I have been contemplating my early steps down the path to sustainability.

In 1987, we finally could afford to open our first Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and I was not comfortable having what few dollars we had to invest supporting endeavors we did not want to perpetuate. Having read about socially responsible investing in a magazine, I did research and we opened IRAs in a socially responsible mutual fund.

I came to understand we all vote with our money. What we choose to buy and where we invest can be consistent with our beliefs. It is a way to “put your money where your mouth is.”

In 1995, I joined Co-op America, a nonprofit organization with a vision for a future I believed in.

With a mission to “Harness economic power ... to create a socially and environmentally sustainable society,” the group did not feel economic growth and environmentally sound practices were mutually exclusive.

This really appealed to me because I was tired of hearing that we need to choose one or the other. You may have noticed I frequently cite Co-op America as a reference in my columns.

During the past 13 years, I have been exposed to many new ideas through Co-op America and lots of practical tips for putting my beliefs into action. One such concept is the “triple bottom line” for businesses that takes into account profits, people and planet.    

The successful organization celebrated its 25th anniversary in October and decided to change its name to Green America to foster a clearer picture of its mission.

Over the years, the organization has launched campaigns for socially responsible investing, corporate responsibility, community investing, fair trade and ending sweatshops.

In the environmental arena, the WoodWise campaign encourages less use of wood and paper products while promoting sustainably harvested lumber and recycled paper. One WoodWise program works with magazines to switch from printing on virgin-pulp paper.

The Solar Catalyst program includes a research component, in addition to an effort to increase demand for and lower the price of solar power. In 2007, the group published a guide to Climate Action and continues to be active in that field.

Green America also campaigns for the production of plug-in electric hybrid vehicles and against corn ethanol.

Green America’s paid membership has grown to more than 65,000 people, with over 3,500 business members. The Action Alert e-mail membership reached 120,000 and is a great way to keep current with little effort.

I thought I might be the only local member, but Becky at Green America’s office in Washington, D.C., told me more than 150 people in Grand Junction have been paying members of the organization.

Moving toward a sustainable lifestyle really means being more conscious and thoughtful about everyday actions.

You can ring in the New Year by carefully considering how you spend and invest your hard-earned money.

Have a happy and sustainable 2009.

Adele Israel is a Grand Junction writer who has been involved in sustainability efforts for some 20 years. Have a question or column idea for Adele? E-mail her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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