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Ten Ways To Green Your Career
By Carol McClelland
You have done your research. You know the changes you can make in your personal life to have a positive impact on the environment.

The question is: Will those actions be enough to produce the results we need to see?

Imagine the impact each of us could have if we used our work time (over 2000 hours a year) to reduce the damage we've done to the Earth and minimize the damage we will cause as we move forward.

Although you might think you have to have a scientific background to be part of the solution, that's not true. Review this list of ten ways to green your career to discover what part you might be able to play using your current skills.

1) Environmental Careers - These jobs entail working on the front line--working in the environment to help nature in some way. In many cases the goal of these jobs is to undo the impact humans have had on the Earth over the preceding decades and centuries.

Scientists and those who support them work with elements of the natural world - the land, the soil, the water, the atmosphere, the wildlife, the forests, and the fish.

2) Energy - The careers in this segment are focused on the energy puzzle. How do we shift our energy sources away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources in a profitable, cost effective, streamlined way?

There's a research angle to this segment as well as a technical side of putting the pieces in place to produce or harness the energy.

3) Green Products and Services - Existing businesses and start up businesses are stepping up their production of green products and services. Whether these products and services change how we live, eat, clean, travel, invest, decorate, or build, they lessen the impact we have on the Earth.

Jobs in these businesses involve manufacturing, distributing, marketing, selling, and supporting these products and services.

4) Green Innovation - This is the cutting edge of the green sector. If you are attuned to this news, you'll hear about new innovations almost every day. In just the last week I've heard of:

~~ A laser television (that runs on a fraction of the energy it takes to run a traditional television)

~~ A mini solar panel that can power your cell phone or laptop

~~ Three new start ups in my hometown that are:

1. Developing a carbon nanotube that can be used in solar cells

2. Creating a way to mass produce cellulose ethanol out of leftovers from the agricultural industry such as corn husks

3. Developing a way to harness electricity from coal without burning it

Although the first stages of this process are highly technical, as these companies get ready to turn these ideas into products and services, other positions will open up. Furthermore those who work on policy and direction play an important role in how successful
the innovations are.

5) Implementing, Systematizing, Manufacturing, Distributing - Getting these innovations to a place where they can be reliably produced and efficiently distributed will be key. Roles will vary by product, but this is where the hands on work will get done. Plenty of career opportunities here as various product lines mature.

6) Marketing and Sales - The next step is to create a demand for the new products by motivating and persuading people to choose the new products over the old ones. If you've used these skills in other industries, you will be able to transfer them to this arena.

7) Inspiring and Educating - Still another group of people will be involved in encouraging, inspiring, and educating people to change their choices and actions. In some cases these are individuals or foundations with a cause. It could also be educating people on the technical side of using new products.

8) Sustainable Companies - Another way to green your career would be to work for a company that is sustainable. These companies evaluate their decisions based on how they impact people (customers, employees, vendors, neighbors), how they impact the environment, and how they impact profits. Examples of companies in this category are: Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, Clif Bar, Seventh Generation, Tom's of Maine, Newman's Own, Eileen Fisher, and Greyston Bakery.

These companies may not be producing a purely green product or service, but what they are producing they are doing with an eye to the bigger picture--improving the quality of life, investing profits in social/environmental causes, and operating responsibly.

9) Green Your Own Business - If you are in business for yourself, think about how you might change your services or business practices to become more green. In the last month I've heard of green public relations firms, green builders, green interior designers, green dry cleaners, green cleaning companies...and I haven't even been searching for these examples.

10) Change Your Personal Work Habits. Ask your co-workers to do the same. If you aren't able to make a career change, be conscious about your habits at work. How are you using energy? How are you disposing of waste? How are you getting to work? Every little bit does add up.

What's Your Next Step?

Do you see a role you can play in the green movement?

Even if you can't change careers at the moment, I encourage you to pinpoint a direction that appeals to you so that if an opportunity presented itself. Investigate your field of interest; keep up with developments and current issues.

You never know when things will shift in your world or the world at large. If you are prepared, you'll find the opening you need to take your green career up a notch.

Copyright (c) 2007 Transition Dynamics Enterprises, Inc.
Green Career Expert, Carol McClelland, PhD, is the author of Your Dream Career For Dummies and founder of She provides people with an array of resources, information, and support to help them identify their dream green career, find a green job, and advance their green career. Visit to request a free excerpt of her Green Job Search Guide.
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