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

Faces of the Green Pages

Conversations with Today's Green Business Leaders

Jessie
Judith L. Seid,
CFP®

December 2009 —
Investing in the Bigger Picture

Blue Summit Financial Group, San Diego, CA

Like many of the long-time members of our Green Business Network, Judy Seid has seen her vision change since the first inception of her green business. "Originally I viewed myself being a personal financial advisor with a small private practice," says Judy. "Now I envision Blue Summit Financial Group as a larger firm and us along with other SRI firms being the “gold standard” of investing."

Green Americans agree that Blue Summit is setting the standard, voting Judy and her investment firm into one of the top-ten slots in our 2009 People's Choice Award contest -- a first for socially responsible investing (SRI) firm. In honor of this achievement, we asked Judy to be our interviewee for December, and to tell us more about the evolution of her business, how she got her start, and recently being featured on the cover of a magazine.

Read the interview »

Jessie
Jessie Jacobson
November 2009—
From Bricks-and-Mortar to Click-and-Order
Wedge Worldwide, Minneapolis, MN

This month, we profile one of our Green Business Network members that has made the successful jump from being a small, respected, local green business, to making a go of it in the era of the Internet.

The Wedge Community Co-op started as a local, cooperative grocery store in 1974, as the first certified organic store in Minnesota. Over the years, as the co-op expanded, so did its customer base and its range of products, until finally the brick-and-mortar shop ran out of space. From that limitation was born the solution of an online store, which has grown into a major national source for Fair Trade products – tea and coffee, dinnerware, table linens, housewares, and more.

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Stephen
Stephen Baker
October 2009— Saving Trees One Office at a Time
Greenline Paper, York, PA

A proud member of our Green Business Network™ for the last 12 years, Stephen Baker of Greenline Paper says: "Green America means a lot to us because it embodies our national green community.  Being a member means having a fraternity of businesses that have similar challenges and like-minded values.  It’s good to have friends in the business."

We agree! In this month's interview, Stephen becomes the latest member of our national green-business community to respond to our interview questionnaire. Read on to find out how a trip to Central America inspired Stephen to plant a new green business in the middle of Pennsylvania, and how you can get your office "green certified" from Greenline Paper.

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Shawn
Shawn Donnille
September 2009—
Fair Trade, Zero-Waste, Local, and Organic
Mountain Rose Herbs, Eugene, OR

When Mountain Rose Herbs won Green America's People's Choice Award in 2008, the voters who nominated them into the top-ten, and then voted them into the top spot weren't shy about the many reasons they had to love their favorite green business. They wrote to us about Mountain Rose's fierce commitment to organics and Fair Trade, about their work to become a zero-waste workplace, and about their biodiesel delivery trucks (using 100% waste oil from a local kettle chip factory).

In this month's interview, we've asked Mountain Rose Herb's Shawn Donnille to tell us more about what's in the company's future. Read on to find out about their commitment to recycling, and their work to rid their supply chain of plastic.

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Bena
Bená Burda
August 2009— Organic, Ethical Clothing, and More
Maggie's Organics, Ypsilanti, MI

If you’re a long-time Green American, you probably already know Maggie’s Organics as the pioneering organic-clothing manufacturer that in the late-90s helped create “The Fair Trade Zone” — a sewing cooperative providing fair-labor employment to seamstresses in Nueva Vida, Nicaragua, an area ravaged by Hurricane Mitch.

Starting with their signature socks, Maggie’s product line has grown over the years to include such hard-to-find (sweatshop-free) items as women’s tights and baby clothes – all with a commitment to organics and a fair workplace.

Now, Maggie’s owner Bená Burda introduces you to her newest venture – Maggie’s Menagerie.  Burda and her team have recreated their Nicaraguan success here in the United States, supporting a new worker-owned cooperative in North Carolina that makes children’s toys from Maggie’s irregular socks and other scraps, including by recycling fabric mill waste from elsewhere in the Carolinas.  Read our interview with Bená to learn more about her support of cooperatives both inside and outside of the United States.

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Rod
Rod Miner
July 2009— Human-Powered Transport
Lightfoot Cycles, Darby, MT

If you're a bicyclist, have you ever looked at your strapped-on milk crate or overstuffed pannier bags and wished there were a way to haul more without borrowing a car? Or maybe you don't bike as much as you'd like to, because a standard two-wheeler with no electric-assist just isn't feasible. Lightfoot Cycles has solutions for almost any dilemma that's standing in the way of clean, pedal-powered transport.

Check out our interview to find out more human-powered vehicles, solar-assists, and the ways Lightfoot has made a difference both to their local economy in Montana, and in developing countries where clean, reliable transportation is needed.

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Eric and Mandi
Eric and Mandi
Odier-Fink

June 2009— Wear Your Conscience
Justice Clothing; Bangor, ME

Dress shirts, dress slacks, jeans, shorts, tops, outerwear, caps, jackets, ties, socks, brassieres, and underwear. If you’re looking for clothing (for men or women) guaranteed to be made in the USA (or Canada), by unionized workers, look no further than Justice Clothing.

Check out our interview to find out more about the challenges of being both eco-friendly and worker-friendly, and what green product keeps Justice Clothing staff fueled all day.

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Cheryl
Cheryl Hahn
May 2009—Tomorrow's World Today
Tomorrow's World (and more); Norfolk, VA

Cheryl Hahn has been part of our Green Business Network for more than fifteen years. She's seen many changes in her sector (organic products for the home), and like Green America, she's been green since before green was cool.

We asked Cheryl to tell us more about avoiding corporate greenwashing, how her business is working to reduce its carbon footprint, and why our Green Festivals make her feel like a movie star.

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Kate
Kate Harrison
April 2009—Green Brides, Kate's Your Guide
The Green Bride Guide; New Haven, CT

As a green bride herself, Kate Harrison wrote the book on keeping your celebration of your love in line with your values.

And as a green entrepreneur, she's optimistic about the future of our green economy: "I think this is the best time in thirty years to start a green business. Consumers are looking for alternatives, the administration is behind us, and being self-employed has a lot of advantages."

We asked Kate to tell us more about the alternatives out there for green brides, and the advantages of keeping it green.

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Karl and Florencia
Karl and Florencia
at Green Festiva
l
March 2009—Waste Paper?
Mr. Ellie Pooh; Brooklyn, NY and Colombo, Sri Lanka

At Green America's Green Business Conference in San Francisco last November, Karl Wald's green-biz peers voted Mr. Ellie Pooh the green business of the year for 2008.

"Without a doubt, that is our greatest achievement," says Karl, "We have been working real hard to keep our program moving forward, and it is certainly great to have someone notice. It also reinforces the idea that it has all been worth it."

We asked Karl to tell us more about the business of making elephant-poo paper, and how choosing an Ellie Pooh notecard helps preserve our forests, provide jobs in Sri Lanka, and save the elephants.

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Wendy
Wendy Strgar
February 2009—Making Love Sustainable
Good Clean Love, Eugene, OR

Wendy Strgar started her business, Good Clean Love (one of the first comapnies to produce organic and sustainable love products) out of a desire to fund peace work and peace education for children. Over time, she has seen her business grow, and has seen her product line expand into health food stores and pharmacies across the country.

She has also seen that her business has been able to promote peace and love on an individual level, helping couples to sustain their loving relationships. We asked Wendy to tell us more about the rise of the sustainable love-product market, about what keeps her inspired, and about the special challenges of such a unique market niche.

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Sharon
Sharon Vocke
January 2009— Earth, Wind, and Fire
Evergreen Energy, Southington, CT

Sharon Vocke gives credit to Judi Friedman and her organization, People's Action for Clean Energy (PACE), for inspiring the birth of Evergreen Energy, the company she started with her husband Rich to bring more options for renewable energy to the citizens of Connecticut and New England.

"PACE has worked to educate about the dangers of nuclear power and the benefits of renewables," says Sharon. "They organize tours of homes and businesses that use cutting-edge efficiency and renewable technology. They've motivated many, including us, to live more sustainably. After we saw Judi and Lou Friedan's huge solar array, we knew it was time for our own." We asked Sharon to tell us more about how installing solar on her own home led to running a business that brings solar power (and wind power, and geothermal power) to others.

Read the interview »

Read more interviews from 2011 »

Read more interviews from 2010 »

Read more interviews from 2008 »

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