Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Faces of the Green Pages

Conversations with Today's Green Business Leaders

Erin and Cecilia
Cecilia Appianim
and Erin Gorman

December 2008— Holiday Chocolate, Sweet and Fair
Divine Chocolate USA, Washington, DC

In October of 2007, Cecilia Appianim (at left) came to Green America's Washington, DC Green Festival to share the story of her Ghanaian cocoa cooperative, Kuapa Kokoo. She handed out samples of the Fair Trade chocolate that is made from the cocoa beans farmed by her cooperative, and she taught Green Festival guests how to pronounce her cooperative's slogan, "pa pa paa," which means "best of the best."

Accompanying Appianim was Erin Gorman, CEO of Divine Chocolate USA, the US distributor of chocolate bars made from Kuapa Kokoo's beans. A long-time friend of Green America, Erin travels often to Ghana to visit the cooperative, and maintains open communication with the farmers who co-own the business. We asked her to tell us more about this pioneering business structure, and the delicious chocolate it produces.

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Joanna Livieratos
November 2008— 21st-Century Family Farm
The Greater Green, Grand Junction, MI

A couple of years ago, Joanna and Alex Livieratos decided to make a change. They were living in Chicago, with jobs as a teacher and a custom woodworker, when they decided to trade city life for country life -- and to establish a new business that they could run from their new farm.

"We sure had a thing or two to learn about country living," says Joanna. "But we did it with humility, and with a deep respect for our new way of life -- and most importantly, with a sense of humor. Now, when I head out to gather some free-range eggs from our chickens, pick a handful of organically raised greens, harvest walnuts from our towering trees, or can another winter's worth of vegetables, that is when I know it has all been worth it." We asked Joanna to tell us more about running an Internet-based business from a 22-acre farm.

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Tiffany Tompkins
October 2008—Wine With a Nose for Fairness
Etica Fair Trade Wine, Minneapolis, MN

When you purchase a bottle of wine at the supermarket, do you know where your dollars go? If you make that purchase a bottle of Etica Fair Trade wine you do. On her Web site, Tiffany Tompkins, owner of Etica Fair Trade breaks it down for you.

From shipping and insurance to tariffs and taxes, you see exactly what goes into the cost of your bottle, including how much goes directly to the wine cellar, farmers, workers, and vineyard. In the countries where Etica does business, a portion of this cost is always used for social development, from helping with health insurance in Chile to supporting a childcare facility in South Africa — where Tiffany is pictured above. We asked her to tell us more about the story behind her Fair Trade wine business.

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Margaret Farrow
September 2008 — Fueling Green Machines
BioFuel Oasis, Berkeley, CA

As reported in our fuel-ranking chart in a recent issue of the Co-op America Quarterly, the use of virgin materials for biofuels can’t be a sustainable replacement for our society's reliance on fossil fuels. Waste oil for fuel, however, is another matter entirely, and is one of the very best sources of fuel available today.

That’s why BioFuel Oasis has had a commitment to selling fuel produced in the greenest way possible – from waste – since the very beginning. We asked Margaret Farrow, one of the worker-owners at BioFuel Oasis to tell us more about recycling used restaurant oil into fuel, and about Biofuel Oasis’s future plans, including their construction of a new all-solar facility landscaped by indigenous edible and medicinal plants.

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Rose Forbes
August 2008 — Healthy Retreat
Green Mountain Bed and Breakfast, Asheville, NC

"What you will find on our breakfast menu is local, seasonal, and organic produce," says Rose Forbes, owner of the Green Mountain Bed and Breakfast. "Plus, eggs and dairy, along with minimally processed foods that do not contain refined flours and sugars, artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, or preservatives."

In addition, with her experience as a certified nutrition consultant, author, chef, and holistic health practitioner for more than 14 years, Rose can evaluate your health and diet, and work with you to customize a nutrition program during your visit. We asked Rose to tell us more about how her journey into lifestyles of health and wellness led her to set up shop in the mountains of North Carolina.

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Scott James
Scott James
July 2008 — Fair Game
Fair Trade Sports, Seattle, WA

"Aside from spending time with my family in our vegetable garden, Green Festivals might be the most ideal place in the world for me," says Scott James, owner of Fair Trade Sports, an eco-friendly, Fair Trade sports ball company that donates afater-tax profits to childrens's charities like Room to Read and the Boys & Girls Club. "I usually lose my voice there, which is a good sign that I've met several hundred more people from the Co-op America family that I'm proud to call friends."

We're proud to call Scott a friend too, and we're pleased to have Fair Trade Sports represented at our Green Festivals. For readers who haven't been to a Festival yet (and for those who have!), we asked Scott to tell us more about the next steps toward eco-friendlier sports balls, and what "respect" means to him.

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June 2008 — Greening Texas, One Lot at a Time
Native Dave, Plano, TX

David Ilfrey has always had a passion about the proper use of native plants to restore nature, and while working at the Dallas Arboretum he'd share his knowledge about native plants with anyone who would listen. His views became so well-known amongst his colleagues that one of his co-workers tagged him with a nickname, "Native Dave."

When Dave and his wife Christy started their own landscape/design business in 2001, they mulled over what to call it. "We started the business as Native Texas Garden Designs," recalls Christy, but there was a problem. "Nobody – not even our parents – could remember the name of the business!  Everybody, however, could remember 'Native Dave,' so when we incorporated in 2003 we opted for the more memorable NativeDave, Inc." The rest is history, and we asked Christy to fill us in on how their design business merged with Christy's passion for communications to become a premier landscape consulting firm.

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Jeff and Rachel
Jeff Delkin and
Rachel Speth

May 2008 — "A Renewable Ideas Co."
Bambu: Mineola, NY and Shanghai, China

Jeff Delkin and Rachel Speth, founders of bambu (the eco-friendly housewares company) reside in Shanghai, China at the doorstep of the world’s largest source of bamboo. Prior to starting their own business, Rachel was in product development for a major American corporation, and Jeff worked as an advertising executive. But, in Jeff's words, they both "wanted something more."

"We obtained great experience working for these large companies, but we wanted to apply our experience to our values and desires to create a company that benefits many and makes something we can be proud of," says Jeff. "Our company’s values are our values. We try to lead our business in a responsible manner, by putting a focus on product, people and planet." We asked Jeff to tell us more about bambu's sustainable journey and the green movement in China.

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Yeumei Shon
April 2008 — "Cotton is our Business!"
Cottonfield, Boston, MA

"I’m inspired by the purity and beauty of natural organic cotton," says Yeumei Shon, discussing the name of her green business, Cottonfield. "To me, 'Cottonfield' symbolizes my dream of a future when organic agriculture becomes the norm." 

Organic since its inception eight years ago, Cottonfield has been a leader in eradicating dangerous pesticides. As green businesses have led the way to a changing marketplace, Yeumei explains: "My vision for Cottonfield has changed with the times.  Back in the beginning, it was simply to make organic cotton apparel available to the public.  Now it is to compete with organic products being sold at Wal-Mart."

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David Bronner
March 2008 — 150 Years of Being Green
Dr. Bronner's, Escondido, CA

You’ve bought their soap at your local co-op for years.  You’ve read the words of wisdom on the outside of their bottles and wondered about the eccentricities behind the label.  Here’s your chance to find out. 

Read our latest green business interview with David Bronner, a fifth-generation Bronner in a family that has been making all-natural soaps for 150 years. We asked him to tell us about the history of the company, their tangles with the DEA, and their latest ventures into Fair Trade.

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Tamara Stenn

February 2008 — Close-Knit Community
Kusikuy, Brattleboro, VT

When Brattleboro, Vermont, committed to citywide Fair Trade purchasing in June 2007, the second Fair Trade town in the US was born — thanks largely to the efforts of Tamara Stenn and her Fair Trade import business, Kusikuy.

A seller of high-quality, hand-knit sweaters, hats, scarves, and other garments made by artisan communities in South America, Kusikiuy has supported Fair Trade principles for more than a decade. We asked Tamara to tell us more about her business, whose name means “make yourself happy” in Quechua, the language spoken by the majority of the indigenous knitters.

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Michelle Greenfield
January 2008 — Here Comes the Sun
Third Sun Solar and Wind Power, Athens, OH

With greater public attention to the problem of global warming and the solution of renewable energy, business is booming for Third Sun Solar and Wind Power, a seven-year-old business that passed the $1 million revenue mark for the first time in 2007.

In the past several years, Third Sun has installed solar panels across Ohio and the surrounding states, on buildings including the Denison University library, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and the carriage house at the Ohio governor's mansion, not to mention numerous private homes across the area. On the heels of all these successes, we asked Michelle Greenfield to tell us more about the business of producing clean energy.

Read the interview »

Read more interviews from 2011 »

Read more interviews from 2010 »

Read more interviews from 2009 »

Read more interviews from 2007 »


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