START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
Jun 17, 2008
I’ve met a lot of entrepreneurs in the “socially responsible business” arena over the past 15 years, and I’m proud to consider myself among this pioneering crew.  But while public interest in green issues is growing rapidly, I’m troubled that green entrepreneurs continue to suffer from two great challenges.  We tend to be: 

Too idealistic
2.  Morally conflicted

Don’t get me wrong, idealism is not a fatal flaw, and in fact can be a great asset.  Almost by definition, entrepreneurs have an “unreasonable” belief in their dream, or they wouldn’t embark on such a difficult and unlikely journey in the first place.  That said, the nature of the green entrepreneur’s idealism often extends to the belief that others share their passion for social and environmental benefit to a truly “unnatural” degree.
 Green Buildings

While I love the enthusiasm and passion of green entrepreneurs for making the world better, creating radical change is generally not accomplished by requiring consumers to change radically.  Call me jaded, but I don’t believe large numbers of people are going to start drinking foul-tasting-but-good-for-you-and-the-planet green drinks or ditch their car for a  solar-powered skateboard.   

The second issue is far more problematic.  If you’re going to be successful as an entrepreneur, it sure helps to love business – focusing on customer needs, doing deals, managing a team, managing cash flow, etc.   Wait… did I say cash flow?   Yes, that dirty word, “cash.”    It tends to be the green entrepreneur’s Achilles’ heel.
For a variety of reasons, the “socially responsible business” world has been conflicted about money forever.  We’ve been told “money is the root of all evil” and greed is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.  Green entrepreneurs pride themselves on their high morals (we are trying to save the world, after all), so deep inside there’s this gnawing conflict: To create the product or service which will cause massive change requires money… yet money is “evil”.   

So most green entrepreneurs race out to change the world through business, focusing great energies on the mission with only meager attention to the money side.  Meanwhile, businesses and entrepreneurs unburdened by the moral conflict find financing and profits - building empires while their “socially responsible” brethren stay small or fail.

And it’s not just self-imposed guilt.  I get this question all the time: “Is Care2 a for-profit?” The clear subtext is “but how can it be doing good if it is for-profit?” and/or “If it is, then it must somehow be bad.”   There’s a pervasive “nonprofit is good / for-profit is bad” attitude in society, particularly among fellow progressives.  I even know of one for-profit startup in our space that went so far as to use a “.org” website address that obscures its for-profit nature (of course only perpetuating this downward spiral).

There’s no question that businesses are some of the primary contributors to many of the ills we face today.  We have great reason to be skeptical.  But that doesn’t mean “business” is inherently a bad model.  It’s not perfect, but it is powerful, and with the right leadership can be a strong force for good.

So here’s my request to all of the well-meaning folks who want to see a world of good. Have faith in the intentions of green entrepreneurs, and give them the benefit of the doubt.   I’ve met hundreds over the years, and they’re almost universally well-intentioned (The few I’ve met whose intentions seemed dubious were so un-authentic that I don’t think they were fooling anyone).   Judge not by the model, but by the results and by the organization’s adherence to its marketing messages.  

We need the best entrepreneurial business minds to be working toward creative solutions – embracing business opportunities full-on to leverage the power of the markets for good.  When they can demonstrate profitable models to create a more sustainable society, a tidal wave of others will follow.
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Posted: Jun 17, 2008 1:39pm
May 6, 2008
DrainOne of the best parts of my job is that I hear lots of stories from members about how Care2 has made a difference in their lives.

I track comments on some of my favorite Healthy & Green tips, and the other day this one came into my inbox:

Clearing Clogged Drains

Just tried the baking soda/boiling water on my kitchen drain-WOW!!!!! We have constant problems because of the plumbing arrangement even with using a drain screen. And with a septic tank I hate using chemicals-not to mention trying so hard to GO GREEN!!! Thanks for this advice.

I love that. Such a simple solution, and yet such an important step to reduce toxins in the home and all sorts of nasty chemicals from entering our aquifers.

Thanks Erica for posting that and making my day. And thank you for caring!

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Posted: May 6, 2008 9:25am
Nov 30, 2007 is a new green shopping site that takes an innovative (at least in the green space) approach to help consumers be more responsible shoppers.  A primary challenge most green shopping sites have is to provide enough selection (that's affordable and high quality) to interest mainstream consumers. Evo solves that problem by taking a page from the comparison shopping engines (e.g. Pricegrabber)

The Evo engine scours the web for millions of products, then uses a proprietary screening process to display only the green products.  This is the same approach we've been using for the popular Care2 Job Finder, so we know this approach can work.  The great benefit of this system is that once you've done the hard work of setting up the search engine and filtering process, keeping the store up to date with a huge selection is easy. Evo says they're launching with over 100,000 green screened and rated products.   The downside of this model is that it depends on generating revenues from affiliate fees - a tough way to make a living.

They've also got a very cool quiz-like feature to help determine how "green" you are, and provide tips on how to be more eco-responsible.  Each answer adds "leaves" to your personal "tree" (I'm embarrassed to say my tree wasn't as green as I'd like to believe it would be).

The company was founded by Dan Siegel, a serial entrepreneur (on the founding team of Student Advantage) and all around good guy.   This looks like a great start, and I look forward to see how the EVOlve.
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Posted: Nov 30, 2007 6:17pm


Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.


Randy Paynter
, 1
Hillsborough, CA, USA
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