I launched WesChyrchel.com a year ago today. It was a big deal for me. It’s a site where I can share ideas and interesting opinions about green products, services and about being green. A “green” lifestyle is something more personal for me and has more meaning than purchasing “green” stuff.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve realized that everyone needs to find out what green means to them. As with life, one of our many goals is to find out who we are. It’s an interesting question. What do you like or don’t like? What do you believe in or don’t believe in? What’s your passion? What motivates you? What do you stand for? These are all fascinating questions. One of the benefits as we get older, is that these life questions slowly get answered one by one. There is a huge sense of freedom knowing who you are. It’s moving.
For me, being green was an opportunity to take inventory. My life has progressed so quickly that I just tried to keep up. Life can sometimes get overwhelming and I would tell my nieces, “you don’t have to be the best, you just have to keep up!” Sure there is some truth to that, but what does “best” really mean? The best ever or the best you can do? I believe it’s the best you can do at the time. If you want to improve on it, come back later and take it to the next step, otherwise move on to the next thing.
To go green, the first thing I did was to start reading, a lot. I read every article, book and magazine I could get my hands on. I became a Certified Green Building Professional from Build It Green. I went to conferences, networking events and visited businesses. I really wanted to know what it meant to “be green.” I started getting overwhelmed with the thought of how people were going to be green. I thought, “no one is going to do this. No one is going to completely stop buying one product that they have used for generations and start buying another.” The truth is, yes they will. What worked for me, was to not do it all at once. I just did a little at a time, when I had the money. My biggest “aha moment” was composting. It really made me realize how much we throw away. My composting has grown from one composting unit to three. I almost never put anything in the green trash can anymore and the rest goes into the compost bin or is turned into mulch.
I now do rainwater harvesting, planted a garden, am switching old no-so-healthy plants out with edibles, like fruit trees and herbs, switched out my shower heads to 1.5 GPM, self recycle all of our bottles and cans and every time a lightbulb goes out, I replace it with a fluorescent bulb. This has all happened within a year. It’s been a lot of fun to see this grow. I have never imposed on my family any of these ideas and just told them what I was doing. Slowly but surely my wife and daughter have gotten on board. All of our detergents have been switched out with greener options, we buy more fresh food and produce, we all recycle and everyone uses the composting container in the kitchen. I guess the lead by example thing is working.
It’s not only about saving the planet, it’s personal
I’ve been working as a web developer for over 12 years now. It’s truly been a magical ride. I feel very privileged to see history unfolding right before my eyes. When working in this industry you more often than nought, work with startups. It’s a very interesting social experiment. These companies usually have a lot of money or they are bootstrapping it. Typically, the entrepreneurial spirit is high and dreams of being the next Internet millionaire are thick. It’s exciting and energy is high. Ego’s are at their peak and everyone is working at 200% capacity. You have to move fast, make good decisions and go the distance. That’s how make it or that’s what everyone tells you how it’s made. The sad result is that these companies rarely make it. They either die a quick and painless death, the company dissolves and shuts the doors or they lay off most of the company and slowly dies a public and painful death. Lives are ruined, friends become enemies and reputations are destroyed. Then they do it all over again.
It is a lot of fun and you learn a lot, but after years of this you learn what works and what doesn’t. You see your family grow and change and you start to think about what you want your life to be like. Friends and family confide in you about their lives and you see that your experiences with startups isn’t that unique. This seems to be the workforce of today in general. People want balance. They want part of their life back.
What’s happening is that people’s lives have changed and the working environment is slow to catch up. They want flexibility and they want to be a part of something great. They want their work to not just be the place where they exist for eight hours a day. They want to change the world. They want meaning.
Green has become a metaphor for sustainability and sustainability has become a metaphor for how we work and live. If we have to be more sustainable with how we live, we most definitely have to be more sustainable with how we work. It can’t just be at home. It has to be everything. Businesses need to learn to become sustainable in how they operate daily and in the future. This is the time for businesses to re-invent themselves and stop the bad habits of the past. The survivors will be the ones that embrace these sustainable changes and implement them quickly. The result will be leaner greener businesses that are profitable, scaleable and treat their employees as valuable assets. This is the next chapter of being green and on Earth Day we should take a moment and ask ourselves what we want our lives to be like in the future. How has everything been going? Is it sustainable? I think we all know the answer.