Green is the New Black

Date January 14, 2008 at 11:00 PM

Publication SantaFe.com

Categories Health & Beauty

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Maybe if I didn't have a pulse, I wouldn't be getting caught up in the green revolution happening everywhere around me. To avoid it seems impossible, now that the global reach for oil exploration has begun knocking on our back door. If a label boasting, "certified organic"€ does not seduce me around every corner; someone is surely to be standing in line next to me and prepared to say, "You know you can buy those organic."€ Try ordering a coffee without treading on one's social consciousness. Look into the eyes of someone ordering a latte. "Do I take the sleeve or not take the sleeve, how hot is this cup anyway?"€ Sooner or later, a latte will be served cold in the palm of one's hand, just to spare the burden of the waste.

Fortunately, Santa Fe is blessed with many sustainability experts and whole systems thinkers who are helping the rest of us become a little greener every day. I barely register sea foam on the depth of my green. But as new ideas come to light each day, a person cannot move ten feet in one direction without a sustainability decision to make. Here are seven easy ways to deepen your shade of green in 2008.

Buy Local

It's not about being Mr. Nice Guy, it's about limiting the jet exhaust between Santa Fe and Shanghai, and keeping profits in the local economy. While buying local is partly about limiting the use of fossil fuels in the transport process, it is largely about redistributing capital in the local market. For such business needs as marketing, printing, graphic design, web design and bookkeeping, a corporation might appeal to headquarters or to outsourcing for that kind of support. Local businesses that are selected for these services not only win the job, they circulate funds in the community and keep other people employed too.

The same can be said about buying locally grown and produced foods. Aside from the gastronomic rationale that fresher foods often taste better, local foods spend less time bouncing around on a truck and burning up the highways. Buy direct from farmers and eat at restaurants that do. Luckily, Santa Feans have ample opportunities to enjoy the vibrancy and character of locally owned bookstores, teahouses, hardware stores, boutiques, as well as many award winning design firms.

Bank Local

With so many local banks and credit unions to choose from, why go national when you can expect chocolate peanuts at Christmas and a hand written card on your birthday. Most local banks offer the amenities of online banking and bill pay standard to national banking institutions. Keeping one's assets in New Mexico means the money stays within local interests.

For as little as $50, anyone can open an account at the Permaculture Credit Union, which shares a branch location with the State Employee Credit Union at 4250 Rodeo Road. This little credit union with a big idea offers student, signature, shared security, home equity and vehicle loans. "You don't have to live off the grid to be a good candidate for us, says Don Sarich, President and CEO of The Permaculture Credit Union, our clientele comes from a broad range of investment minded people."€

Know the Law

New Mexico's Incentives for Renewable Energy are being updated frequently. Stay abreast to changes in lawmaking and get the tax breaks where you can. Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency for more information.

Join the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, this group defends New Mexico's communities and environments through public education, legislative initiatives, administrative negotiations and litigation. Information is posted on their website about ongoing cases involving everything from landfills and uranium mining to oil drilling and safe water jurisdictions.

Purchase Wind Energy

Sign up for PNM Blue Sky; it's a start. Both home and business users can purchase electricity generated by wind power either in blocks of kilowatts, or by subscribing for a percentage of one's consumption to yield from wind power. If the idea of PNM sending you a check each month is attractive, consider installing a photovoltaic system (PV System) and sell the electricity you generate back to PNM through a net metering program.

Use Surplus Space

Perhaps your business is growing in giant leaps and bounds, but before you meet the architect to design your gold standard LEED certified building, take advantage of the surplus space that may be available to you. Ironstone Bank is a regional banking institution that chose to renovate a historical home for their branch at 700 Paseo de Peralta in Santa Fe. Additionally, Ironstone offers the surplus of their meeting and conference room space to their account holders.

One might also take inspiration from Change the Margins, an activist group campaigning to convince people to adopt smaller margins on their text documents. A major goal for them is to persuade the Microsoft Corporation to change the default settings in Microsoft Word software from 1.25" to .75" on all sides. Change the Margins believes one million pages of paper not printed saves 85 pulp trees.

See Through a Green Screen

While there remains a lot the film industry can do to green up its presence in New Mexico, a "green screen"€ in the investment world is a profiling system for choosing sustainable investments. Seek out funds that are doing the research, and invest with companies dedicated to creating green solutions rather than those who may be adding to the problem.

The Green Money Journal can assist, this Santa Fe publication has been providing information about green investing for the last fifteen years. I asked Cliff Feigenbaum, Publisher and Managing Editor, how the Green Money Journal was launched. Feigenbaum explained, "I was working in the health industry and realized my 401K was invested in tobacco, first I blew a gasket and then I started the Green Money Journal."€

Green funds may not have the most competitive rates for a return on your investment, but they just might produce the highest rate of return for your social consciousness. Visit with the Winslow Management Company to learn about Green Mutual Funds.

Give Time to Young People

Either steering them towards a bank account with a heart or a green mutual fund with a consciousness, helping a young person see through green tinted lenses could be one of the best investments made today. As the fossil fuel age comes to a close and the green revolution increases with momentum, young people will become the sustainability experts for tomorrow.

"Among many other things,"€ says Feigenbaum, "we need to help young people create green avenues for their wealth. For them, I am particularly fond of PAX World Mutual Funds which requires a very low minimum to open an account, around $250.00."€

Even if you don't have five thousand dollars to invest in biodegradable parts for windmills, you can make these small investments on a daily basis. Whether you request Chimayo chile at your favorite local restaurant, subscribe to wind power or store your pal's kayak in the basement, these little things can go a very long way.

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