Dear EarthTalk: Im looking for a job and would like to find a position at a
company that is either marketing a green product or service or that is seriously
trying to improve its ecological footprint. Where do I look? -- Beth, via
With just about every company trying to green its products, services and
internal operations these days, there has never been a better time to find a
green job. Jobs in eco-advocacy and in hands on environmental work such as
pollution cleanup and land use planning are more abundant than ever. And green
issues are driving the creation of new jobs in many other vocations as well.
The November/December 2007 issue of E The Environmental Magazine reports
that some of the hottest sectors for new green jobs right now are: travel and
hospitality, planning and land use, alternative health and medicine, renewable
energy, environmental law, information technology, environmental education,
design and construction, corporate responsibility, and food and farming. Those
with experience in any of these fields should find plenty of opportunities that
can help marry their skills with their green principles.
Analysts point to the alternative and renewable energy sector as offering
perhaps the most opportunities. Solar and wind are already multibillion-dollar
industries, says Peter Beadle, who launched the website greenjobs.com in 2005.
Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies also offer many opportunities, he says.
Technical personnelengineers, installers, etc.form the backbone of such
industries, but marketing, sales and communications specialists are needed to
get the technologies to market.
Congress also wants to make sure there are green jobs for disadvantaged and
disenfranchised Americans. In August 2007 the House of Representatives passed
the Green Jobs Act as a vehicle to use the green economy as a pathway out of
poverty. The bill calls for spending $125 million for job training in renewable
energy, energy-efficient vehicles and green building. One-fifth of the money
would be earmarked for those most difficult to hire: at-risk youths, former
inmates and welfare recipients.
The Senate passed a similar bill earmarking $100 million for green collar
job training in various sectors of the economy. Both bills have been rolled into
the larger Energy Bill recently passed by the House and now under consideration
by the Senate. If the bill passes, President Bush could still veto it, in which
case its sponsors would likely reintroduce the green jobs provisions once a new
administration takes office.
Regardless of what comes out of Washington, green job seekers should have no
trouble ferreting out good opportunities on their own. Checking in with the
websites and human resources departments of companies you already know and
patronize is a good strategy. There are also dozens of websites that post green
job opportunities, including ecojobs.com, EcoEmploy.com, environmentalcareer.com,
environmentaljobs.com, greenenergyjobs.com, greenbiz.com,
sustainableindustries.com and sustainablebusiness.com.
CONTACTS: E The Environmental Magazine,
www.emagazine.com; Environmental Career Opportunities,
www.environmentalcareer.com ; EnvironmentalJobs.com ,
www.environmentaljobs.com ; Green
Energy Jobs, www.greenenergyjobs.com
; Greenbiz Jobs, www.greenbiz.com/jobs
; Sustainable Industries Jobs,
www.sustainableindustries.com/jobs ; SustainableBusiness.com,
Dear EarthTalk: Why arent compact fluorescent light bulbs taking over more
quickly from incandescents, given their substantial energy-saving advantage? And
what about recycling them when they ultimately burn out? Ive heard they contain
mercury. -- Nancy Holmes, Seaside, OR
Analysts at the nonprofit Earth Policy Institute (EPI) estimate that the
United States could close 80 coal-fired power plants if Americans switched over
en masse to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). A global shift, says EPI,
could close some 270 power plants worldwide. CFLs use less than a third of the
energy required to power a traditional incandescent light bulb to produce the
same amount of light.
Its hard to say exactly why a quicker transition over to CFLs hasnt yet
taken place in the U.S., given this substantial energy- and greenhouse
gas-saving potential. China, Australia, Canada, Venezuela and Cuba have each
committed to phasing out incandescent bulbs entirely within the next five years,
and dozens of other countries, including all 27 members of the European Union,
are deliberating whether to follow suit.
In lieu of a federal mandate in the U.S. calling for a switchover to CFLs the
private sector, with some prodding from green groups, is taking some of its own
initiatives. The nations largest retailer, Wal-Mart, announced last year that
it would double annual sales of CFLs to 100 million by 2008 as part of an effort
to green both operations and inventory. Home Depot, Lowes and local hardware
stores everywhere are getting into the act as well, giving CFLs prominent shelf
space and offering deals to promote them. And Energy Federation, Inc., which has
been promoting the use of CFLs since the 1980s, will ship direct to consumers
anywhere from its Massachusetts warehouse.
Meanwhile, a coalition of nonprofitsincluding the Natural Resources Defense
Council, Alliance to Save Energy, American Coalition for an Energy-Efficient
Economy and Earth Day Networkhas launched an initiative with Philips Lighting,
the worlds biggest maker of CFLs, to get Americans to make the switch.
Switching over to CFLs doesnt come without trade-offs. Bulbs each contain
trace amounts of mercury (usually four to five milligrams), a toxic heavy metal.
Exposure to mercury can cause a wide range of health problems, including damage
to the central nervous system, kidneys and liver. It is also a major
contaminant, polluting groundwater and waterways and posing a health threat to
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the amount of
airborne mercury present after a CFL breaks is negligible. Nonetheless, the EPA
recommends that when a CFL bulb breaks, you should immediately open the windows
and vacate the premises for at least 15 minutes to minimize the risk of
exposure. Afterwards, you should clean up the breakage using gloves and/or paper
towels or disposable rags (and avoid using a vacuum cleaner, which can stir up
the airborne mercury). Remaining fragments, as well as any paper towels or rags
used to clean them up, should be sealed in a plastic bag and disposed of at a
local household hazardous waste collection site.
Burned-out CFLs can also be disposed of at such sites or, in some cases,
recycled at the store where they were bought. To locate a CFL recycling facility
near you, visit earth911.org and type in your zip code.
CONTACTS: Earth Policy Institute,
www.earth-policy.org ; Energy Federation, Inc.,
www.efi.org ; Earth 911, www.earth911.org.
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