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Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Up until now I’ve avoided talking about a Green Christmas, but I can’t resist.  It struck me today that “Green Christmas” is more than a clever turn of phrase, a variation on a theme.  The holiday season is many things to many people, but one thing it represents for almost everyone is hope and belief in good things to come.  This is not just about presents and sugar plums.  It is also about the hope and belief in a better future, and for many of us a better future is a greener one.


My youngest is waiting eagerly for Christmas, full of belief.  She still believes fully and deeply in Santa, and knows he is coming soon.  Her palpable excitement and hope are inspiring.  Many people are full of doubt and fear, and could use such strong belief in a brighter future.  The challenges in the economy weigh heavily, and our environmental challenges remain urgent.  


If I could give everyone a Christmas gift, it would be the gift of hope to take with them and carry forward through difficult times.  For all of the great challenges we are faced with, I would give them the deep rock-solid belief in the future that a child feels at Christmas, the excitement about the great things that are coming our way. 


There is good reason to feel this way.  It can be hard to feel good about the future when things look bad, but our problems will not last forever.  Someone asked me the other day where I thought the economy will be two or five years from now.  I had to think for a second - I’m not sure where exactly the economy will be, but one thing I do know is that it sure as heck won’t be at the same low point it is today.  Things will get better.  As bad as things look for many people, the recession will pass and we will move on.  I believe the same can be said of our environmental challenges.  I believe we will take on these challenges and turn things around, building a more sustainable future for ourselves and our children.


Hope is not easy to wrap up and put in a box, but perhaps this is a gift that we each can give to ourselves, allowing ourselves to believe.  So whatever you are faced with, I hope that you have a green Christmas, full of belief in the bright future we are all going to create together. 

The Biodiesel Coop Next Door

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Many people are engaged in the search for new renewable energy alternatives to the use of oil to provide fuel for our cars and trucks.  The high cost of oil is hitting a lot of people in their pocketbooks, accelerating the urgency of the quest.  Some are even taking matters into their own hands, producing their own fuel with small scale “backyard” biodiesel producing from used vegetable oil (Opportunity 3 in 75 Green Businesses).

Recently I found out that my neighbor is helping to build a biodiesel coop with 20 other like-minded Southern Californians.  With the high price of gasoline, particularly diesel, this is no surprise  - the surprise is that there are not more people doing this. 

One key is getting a reliable source of used vegetable oil from a local restaurant.  Another key is figuring out how to process it.  Finally, the coop is figuring out how to structure itself to produce and use the fuel.

One interesting trend my neighbor told me about is that the quality of cooking oil from restaurants is declining, with the oil getting used more.  With dirtier oil, the biodiesel produced from it can also be dirtier if it is not cleaned up before it is used.  To clean the oil, people like my neighbor are increasingly adapting centrifugation systems used to purify fuel for ships.  This trend appears to be spreading through the biodiesel community, providing reliable, cost effective biodiesel production more readily than other methods like filtration.

Over time some biodiesel coops like Piedmont Biofuels ( expand to produce fuel to the public, sustaining themselves from the proceeds.  If the cost of oil stays high, or goes higher, biodiesel producers large and small will have their hands full keeping up with demand.

Getting Started

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Greetings.  I started this site while I was working on the book 75 Green Businesses.  A lot has happened since I started.  I have been privileged to meet and talk with leaders in the green business community, each working from a different perspective but all sharing a vision of a greener world.  The book is done and coming out in August.  The green economy continues growing at a breakneck pace, with more and more people eager to see how they can join the revolution. 


I wrote 75 Green Businesses with the hope that it will open doors to the green revolution for those who are looking for new opportunities but are not sure where to start.  It’s not the whole story, and for all of the 75 businesses it takes a great deal of work to get a business going, but it’s a start.


As a new feature on the site, I’m starting this blog related to the book, part of my journey forward to a greener future.  I’d like to thank you for joining me in my trip, and invite you to come back again in the future to see how it’s going.  I’ll post stories about the great green entrepreneurs I meet and talk to all the time - send me your stories so we can talk about what you are up to as well.


Like the blog, the green economy is just getting started.  While many things change, two things that remain are the need for solutions to environmental challenges and the opportunities for businesses that can provide these solutions.  I believe now more than ever that we can find solutions, particularly if we work together.  I’m looking forward to chatting and working together.