If someone were to tally my eco-friendly virtues and vices, the chart would look something like this: In the plus column would be bike commuting; i.e., my daily 8-mile round trip from Northeast Portland to downtown. I also compost, recycle, grow some of my own vegetables and unplug electronic devices at night.
On the minus side, plenty of household activities have me — and my family — dropping a rung or two on the sustainability ladder. We waste too much food, take excessively long showers and buy an abundance of stuff we don’t use. Plus, having two teenagers doesn’t exactly reduce the old carbon footprint. At least in my house, adolescent rebellion takes the form of throwing banana peels and cardboard in the garbage instead of the compost and recycling bins.
So there you have it: a few green hits, more than a few misses and, underlying it all, a (mostly) unwavering desire to do more on the greenhouse gas-reduction front.
That spirit — of accomplishment tempered with continuous improvement — informs our 100 Best Green workplaces project, now in its fifth year. Our ranking of the winners, revealed in this issue, is based on surveys of employees and employers from 440 firms and nonprofits on a range of sustainable practices.
Collectively, 100 Best employees were most satisfied with their employers’ commitment to recycling, energy conservation and transportation options. But employees also called out areas in need of improvement, including water conservation and toxics reduction.
Our cover story this month features yet another sustainability ranking, showing how Oregon stacks up in five industry sectors. That analysis also revealed mixed results, with Oregon pushing full-steam ahead on low-emission vehicles and green materials research, yet stumbling on clean tech manufacturing.
Back to my own green tally: Biking to work, of course, cuts down on pollution and congestion; it also saves money on gas and parking. But the month of May threw a wrench into things, as rainy weather had me hunting for an electric space heater to dry my shoes and socks post-commute. That’s a definite minus in the excess energy consumption column.
Ah, yes … sustainability is rewarding, but getting there is a long and complicated road.
lindab(at)oregonbusiness.com" target="_blank">LINDA BAKER