EarthTalk: I’m 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 e-mail
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.
© Getty Images
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.
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.
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 personnel—engineers,
installers, etc.—form the backbone of such industries,
but marketing, sales and communications specialists are
needed to get the technologies to market.
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.
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
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.
The Environmental Magazine; Environmental
Career Opportunities; EcoEmploy;
Energy Jobs; Greenbiz
Industries Jobs; SustainableBusiness.com.
EarthTalk: Why aren’t 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? I’ve
heard they contain mercury.
-- Nancy Holmes, Seaside, OR
global shift to compact fluorescent light bulbs, in
lieu of incandescent bulbs, could close some 270 power
© Energy Federation
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.
to say exactly why a quicker transition over to CFLs hasn’t
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 nation’s
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
coalition of nonprofits—including the Natural Resources
Defense Council, Alliance to Save Energy, American Coalition
for an Energy-Efficient Economy and Earth Day Network—has
launched an initiative with Philips Lighting, the world’s
biggest maker of CFLs, to get Americans to make the switch.
to CFLs doesn’t 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 wildlife.
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
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.
Policy Institute; Energy
Federation, Inc.; Earth
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