The word green — and sustainable, its equally overexposed synonym — is used so frequently, so broadly and so indiscriminately, that it teeters on losing all meaning. It’s easy to apply a green label, but it isn’t easy to truly be green. There’s a lot of cynicism around what has become in some quarters just another buzzword to garner attention or funding.
This issue’s cover story looks at the ideas, people and innovations working in legitimate ways to improve the long-term health of the planet and its population. Managing editor Linda Baker and I wanted to spotlight not just innovative technologies but innovative policies, ideas, organizations and business models. It is impossible to print all the great green ideas in the state, so we decided to take a sampling across a variety of sectors to come up with the 10 we think are some of the brightest in Oregon.
This Green Issue also includes an early pioneer in sustainability, Tony Soter of Soter Vineyards. Soter is the real deal, having gone organic in the ’80s and then creating Planet Oregon along with wife Michelle a few years ago. Put SERA Architects in the same category, a Portland firm that’s involved in some of the highest-profile green building in the state, including the proposed Oregon Sustainability Center.
Something very interesting about Oregon business leaders is evident in the Input survey on page 6. Most say green practices are important and almost 80% of the respondents say their company uses sustainable business practices. Yet a majority also says that going green doesn’t give their company a competitive advantage globally. They believe in doing the right thing environmentally even if the business payoff is not immediate.
Believing what you do every day in your workplace makes a huge difference is at the root of the fourth annual 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon. This year’s winners were selected from 431 businesses and nonprofits. More than 20,000 employees took part in the survey of green practices. Those green practices are tremendously important to employees’ satisfaction with their jobs. That everyday commitment to green practices, most of it unsung and unglamorous, is something that is worth celebrating.