Green Line Series | Deb Hatcher, Founder of A to Z Wineworks

Deb Hatcher

Our latest installment of the Green Line Series digs into the wine industry, sustainable practices and what it takes to become the first Certified B Corporation winery in the world. Deb Hatcher will be joining us at GoGreen Portland in October as a moderator for our closing plenary: Oregon Wine Industry Sustainable Showcase with Wine Tasting where she along with five industry experts will share their know-how as well as some of their delicious wine!

GoGreen Conference: Can you share some of the best practices you have put into action on the business side in the past year?

Deb Hatcher: One of the most exciting developments for us this year is that our Director of Viticulture, Ryan Collins, developed a unique Comprehensive Vineyard Summary we provide to many of our grower partners.  This report has helped us to improve our margin growth, cost controls and quality control by giving an accurate picture of the fruit we receive from their sites.  The summary covers chemistry and quality parameters (measurements of the water or various tannin content, for example), a general assessment of their soil breakdowns and a vineyard management scorecard that measures everything from canopy management to disease severity.  Importantly, they are also able to see how their fruit quality compared to their peers.  This tool is a game changer.

When we purchased REX HILL in 2007, we installed an Integrated financial and inventory system   At the end of 2014, we upgraded to their newest web platform introducing multiple features including an easy to use point of sale system for our tasting room that we helped to develop.  We continued our infrastructure expansion creating more efficiencies and economies of scale by adding 14,000 square feet of production space to be followed by an additional 20,000 square feet next year.   To continue deepening engagement at every level of the company,  we coach new presenters for our national marketing meetings.  At our spring meetings this year, we had 25 individual staff presenters.  These presentations help to build confidence and increase competency as we push authority down the ranks along with increased responsibility.

Last year we became the only certified B Corporation winery in the world.  We are working to help others certify and are pleased to welcome this year additional wineries including two from Oregon.  This year we have also been able to begin to support bee health research.  We added bees to the floral graphics on our Riesling bottle to indicate that we are donating a portion of the sale from every bottle to bee associated research.  We bought some specialized equipment for the Bee Lab at Oregon State University and contributed to Bee Girl’s research at Southern Oregon University into compatible vineyard flora for healthy bee population support.

GoGreen: Which example of sustainable best practices or innovation in the industry really stands out to you as cutting edge and leading the way for other wine businesses to follow?

DH: The Oregon wine industry developed the LIVE Certified Sustainable program for vineyards and wineries.  While being rigorous, LIVE takes a practical approach recognizing that trade-offs are sometimes necessary in agriculture.  For example, if in a wet year an excessive number of tractor passes in the vineyard are required because of mildew pressure, then LIVE allows a winery to improve even more in another area to compensate.  It is important to realize that if a business isn’t economically stable, then any other sustainable practices will be short-lived.  In some cases, growth and size can bring more opportunities for innovation and improvement.  We think more wineries should become LIVE certified and not just vineyards as more change can be made in the winery to not only ensure better quality fruit but also improve the treatment of natural resources and employees.

It also seems time to welcome improved technology which other countries long ago pioneered because they had no agricultural labor force.  Our recycling sprayer captures 98% of any excess spray and eliminates drift.  Our cross flow filter uses dialysis technology to clean the wine without stripping it.  Pulse air technology breaks up the cap in a large fermenter in seven minutes instead of having someone punch it down for an hour and ten minutes.  Finally, using state of the art robotic technology in the field can now deliver individual grapes from the vine to the press in as little as thirty minutes not only improving quality but greatly increasing efficiency.

GoGreen:   You are one of only a handful of wine organizations to be a certified B Corporation. Why did you decide to get certified? How has this certification been beneficial to your business?

DH: As certified Biodynamic farmers, it is a bit like applying Biodynamic principles to business: engage the whole business and examine ways everything is interconnected and serves the greater good.  We are not a “benefit corporation” so we don’t receive tax benefits but we have received media attention and have found more opportunities to inspire others through collaborations with other B Corps.  We hope the changes we made to our legal language, to take into account all stakeholders with our decisions rather than to be required to make the greatest return on investment for shareholders, may offer protection from a possible undesirable purchase.  We are more aware of the importance of documenting all of our practices as well as discovering more best practices.  Finally, it distinguishes us in the marketplace as customers are increasingly concerned with the origins of their food.

We appreciate having third party certification of our practices every two years.  Objective, documented measurements give us a legitimate way to measure our improvement and authenticate that we are being a force for good. Until our B Corp certification, we had few ways beyond modeling best practices that didn’t seem boastful to try to inspire other companies to review and improve the effect of their established ways on their staff, their community and the environment.


Event Details: The eighth annual GoGreen Portland, will take place Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at the White Stag Building. Tickets are available at portland.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 503-226-2377. Save 30% on tickets with promotional code GREENLINESERIES.

Green Line Series | Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, Director of Community Affairs, New York City Department of Environmental Protection

In the first GreIbrahim Abdul-Matinen Lines Series interview for GoGreen Portland we had  the chance to connect with Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, Director of Community Affairs, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, a passionate voice for transforming our pollution-based way of life to one that prioritizes our planet and its people for over 15 years.

Raised between Brooklyn and rural Upstate NY, Ibrahim appreciated environment and sustainability at an early age. His father, a devout Muslim, taught 5-year-old Ibrahim that the “Earth is a mosque,” that every inch of the planet is sacred and to be protected. Ibrahim retells this moving story in his Amazon Environmental Bestseller, “Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet,” a one-of-a-kind expose of the positive contributions of people of faith to the environmental and environmental justice movements. Completely committed to making his birth city into a global leader of environmental policy and practice, Ibrahim has been in several civil service roles since 2001. He advised former Mayor Michael Bloomberg on PlaNYC — the City’s sustainability blueprint and he currently directs Community Affairs at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. Ibrahim’s head is all policy; his heart is all organizing. He merges the two consistently, bringing marginalized communities into City Hall conversations. Ibrahim can be heard on WNYC and WBAI and seen on Al Jazeera, AriseTV, and ABC News.

GoGreen Conference: Tell us about yourself – what is your background and how did you get to where you are today as a leader in sustainability, equity, and social change?

Ibrahim Abdul-Matin: I got where I am today because I could pursue my interests in race and class dynamics, the excesses of consumption, how we treat the planet and how we collectively made decisions without having to worry about paying back college debt. I had a full football scholarship. When I graduated I gravitated towards work that was fulfilling and not just what I needed to do to pay the bills.

GoGreen: Your father taught you that the “Earth is a mosque” and the planet should be treated as a sacred and protected space. How has this statement influenced both your professional career, but also your personal habits and practices?

IAM: My father was quoting the Hadith – or a saying of the Prophet Muhammad who, in my humble opinion, was a freedom fighter and an environmentalist. I try to stay as anchored to those reminders in both my professional and personal life as possible.

GoGreen: What have been the biggest obstacles facing sustainable practices and making them a habit for the city of NY? How have these obstacles been faced and over come?

IAM: We have a lot of work to do. We think we are the greatest at everything in NYC. I think our biggest obstacle is living up to that but i also think that we make progress everyday.

Find out more about Ibrahim Abdul-Matin on his personal website.

Event Details: The eighth annual GoGreen Portland, will take place Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at the White Stag Building. Tickets are available at portland.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 503-226-2377. Save 30% on tickets with promotional code GREENLINESERIES.

Green Line Series | Virginia Mason and the Washington State Climate Declaration

Katerie ChapmanOn this installment of the Green Line Series we had the opportunity to interview Katerie Chapman, Senior Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Virginia Mason Medical Center from the plenary session Washington Businesses Call for Climate Action. Read along to find out more about Virginia Mason’s commitment to better environmental practices and their leadership in climate action.

GoGreen Conference: Why did Virginia Mason sign the Washington State Climate Declaration in 2014?

Katerie Chapman: Virginia Mason did more than sign the declaration — we chaired the team that  developed the Washington State Climate Declaration.  We led the effort in Washington state because climate change impacts human health significantly.  Not only is it a risk to health, but climate change is forecast to have major impacts on Washington state’s economy.  Embracing clean energy and technology provides an opportunity to respond to climate change while growing Washington state’s business sector.  By acting on climate, we can protect our region’s health and keep the economy growing.

GG: What is the biggest opportunity/challenge that climate change presents for Virginia Mason?
KC: Our biggest carbon emissions relate to our energy use. Our hospital is one of the most energy efficient in the country and we have achieved Energy Star ratings for three years in a row.  We have been working on reducing our energy use and running our buildings more efficiently since the 1990s.  We have a culture of innovation, so this is a natural process for us.

The big challenge with climate change will come when we see its effects on our patients expand.  Over the next decade, we anticipate seeing more respiratory issues and heat stress due to high heat days and wildfires.  We are leading on climate to ultimately help reduce the impacts of climate change, and our team will be ready to respond for our patients.

GG: How has Virginia Mason’s vision and strategic planning evolved in response to climate change?
KC: Virginia Mason was honored to participate in the Health Care Climate Resilience Roundtable at the White House. During that discussion, the White House highlighted President Obama’s plan to create resilient and sustainable hospitals.  As a result of the meeting, the National Institutes of Health created a toolkit for assessing health care climate resilience.  We were the only health care organization in the Pacific Northwest to test the toolkit prior to the roll-out. The tool kit gave us some “ah-ha” moments. For example, we realized we are not necessarily sizing our HVAC systems for the additional high-heat days that are forecast due to climate change.

GG: Can you describe how Virginia Mason has implemented programs to engage employees with sustainability efforts?
KC: In 2002, we implemented our own “lean” or “kaizen” program by adapting the Toyota Production System to health care.  The resulting Virginia Mason Production System is fully integrated into Virginia Mason’s culture.  Employee engagement and respect for people are at the core of the production system, which empowers employees to facilitate process improvement.

Our focused commitment to quality extends to environmental sustainability.  Sustainability is  integrated into our everyday work along with patient safety and other organizational process improvements.  One simple way that employees can engage in process improvement in their department is through our online “Everyday Lean Idea” system.  Employees enter ideas into the system where they are tracked from testing to refinement and full implementation.  We have a “green idea” category for sustainability ideas, and these “Everyday Lean and Green Ideas” are shared across the organization. Another way employees are engaged is through Kaizen Events, during which a team of employees work together to create solutions to a problem or opportunity.  Kaizen Events have included sustainability topics like hospital pharmaceutical waste management and missioning supplies from the OR.

Event Details: GoGreen Seattle 2015, brought to you by King County, will take place Thursday, April 30, 2015 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595.  Single Admission Tickets are $195 and Group Rate Tickets are $175 (groups of two or more).  Special registration rates for student, government and non-profits are available.

Green Line Series | State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations

suitasOn this installment of the Green Line Series we will be bringing you something a little different. We recently had the opportunity to interview two of our speakers on the session What’s Next? The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations. We are excited to provide perspectives and a glimpse into the session from Matias Valenzuela, Director, Office of Equity and Social Justice, King County and Sudha Nandagopal, Strategic Policy Advisor, Environmental Justice & Service Equity Division, Seattle Public Utilities.

GoGreen Conference: The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations report is billed as “the most comprehensive report on diversity in the environmental movement”. Compiled by a working group of environment and equity thought leaders, Green 2.0. investigates the disconnect between green activism and social equity at NGO’s foundations and Government Agencies across the country.

In your opinion – what does the Green 2.0 report mean to the state of diversity in environmental organizations? What are the top things businesses can do to improve?

Sudha Nandagopal: The Green 2.0 report was an important marker to report on what many of us have observed. The environmental movement, especially our leadership, has to change in order to better reflect the communities most-impacted by environmental injustices and to engage the rising American electorate: a population of people who are incredibly racially diverse and facing huge issues of income inequality, rapid globalization, and a changing climate. We are all seeing the stark differences in racial outcomes throughout all levels of our society and this report’s findings are relevant for organizations, government, and businesses as we consider our leadership and services

Businesses and organizations have an important role to help address these disparities and strengthen communities. Both businesses and organizations must assess who is and isn’t benefiting from their services and create opportunities for people of color to lead sustainability efforts. From that assessment, businesses can begin to understand how to shift their products, services, and hiring/retention practices to better reflect and grow their customer base now and into the future. Additionally, businesses can bring a strong social responsibility lens to their programs and build partnerships with people of color, immigrant, refugee, and low-income communities through focused, community-led, culturally relevant efforts.  Through these focused efforts we can shift not only who is in the room, but who has the power to shape and influence decisions, programs, and policy.

Matías Valenzuela: The Green 2.0 report is an urgent call to action for environmental organizations. In short, there is a “green ceiling” for people of color, and this should be of great concern to environmental organizations. Nationally we will be majority “minority,” or majority people of color, by approximately 2043. We will reach this number in our King County region about 10 years sooner than that. So we have a diversity explosion in our hands. At the same time, only 12-16% of those in environmental organizations are people of color.

There are a number of steps that organizations can take to make changes. Organizations need to track their numbers and do internal assessments, then develop plans and goals that make the organization accountable and move the organization towards greater diversity.

Importantly, it’s not just about increasing diversity in the workforce, but also workplace inclusion – this means creating a culture within the organization that encourages respect and trust for all individuals, and creates a workplace that is open and welcoming of new and different points of view. Differences in backgrounds and perspectives within organizations are assets, and organizations need to be able to have these discussions. Diversity and racial equity trainings and discussions are key in advancing an organization’s culture, and need to accompany the plans to increase workforce diversity.

GoGreen Conference: Can you describe what programs Environmental Justice & Service Equity (EJSE) has been working on? What are the challenges in implementing these programs? What are the successes?

Sudha Nandagopal: Our work in the Environmental Justice and Service Equity Division spans a huge range of issues. We work directly with people of color, immigrant, refugee, and low-income communities to build partnerships and address historic inequities in service delivery. We also work internally to coach our colleagues to embed racial equity in strategic business plans, decision-making, project design, and delivery.

For instance, right now we are working in partnership with people-of-color led community organizations to design programs that will engage our communities in the new food waste requirement that Seattle adopted in 2014.

Some of your businesses may experience challenges when the city rolls out new requirements – you may need to let your staff know how to operate differently, change how you work with customers and create new ways of doing business. Imagine if you were of limited-English proficiency or that you had only recently moved to the area or imagine that you have had a historic pattern of having the negative impacts of policy fall more heavily on your community. These are the kinds of barriers many in our communities face every day.

We know there’s a huge opportunity to support people of color, immigrant, refugee, and low-income communities in participating in composting and recycling. We also know that these communities are eager to work with Seattle Public Utilities to figure out ways to lift up existing cultural practices, build their skills, and create opportunities for long-term community environmental stewardship.

By working with community groups to design the projects, we can create relevant programs, unearth and utilize existing practices, create connections between community leaders to coach and support one-another and refine our programs to better connect with and build capacity in communities. We have to take an active learning role, start where people are at rather than making assumptions, increase capacity, and build upon existing resources.

GoGreen Conference: King County recently released the Equity and Social Justice Annual Report. What are the most important takeaways and what does this report mean for the future?

Matías Valenzuela: The report reveals that disturbing inequities persists in King County and that a person’s quality of life is greatly impacted by where they live, and by their race. For example: average household income in one ZIP code can be $100,000 less than in another just a few miles away; average life expectancy can be 10 years shorter in one place than another; and unemployment among African Americans is twice what it is for whites.

We know that we can take some concerted steps to make changes and increase opportunity for our residents.

As an example, we increased access to affordable health care, led by our Executive Dow Constantine, with an all-hands-on-deck approach that mobilized County agencies and community organizations to help nearly 200,000 people in King County sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, cutting the uninsured rate by more than one-third. The enrollment outreach targeted uninsured populations with the greatest needs, such as Latinos, African Americans, and limited-English speakers in South King County—creating greater access to critical preventative services such as vaccinations, screenings for cancer or mental-health issues, and treatment for chronic conditions.

And we are working to expand opportunity where people live. Based upon research which shows the place where one lives has a dramatic impact on his or her trajectory in life, King County and The Seattle Foundation launched Communities of Opportunity—an initiative to improve health, racial, and socioeconomic equity in communities, building on community assets and know-how.

More recently, we created a nationally-recognized low-income bus fare for our lower-income Metro Transit riders.

In our workforce, we are working to ensure greater equity, diversity, and opportunity in our changing workplace.

Event Details: GoGreen Seattle 2015, brought to you by King County, will take place Thursday, April 30, 2015 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595. Early Bird rates are good through Friday, March 27, 2015. Single Admission Early Bird Tickets are $175 and Group Rate Early Bird Tickets are $150 (groups of two or more).  Special registration rates for student, government and non-profits are available.

Green Lines Series | Alaska Airlines Drives Sustainability Forward

Joe SpragueWe are very excited to welcome Joe Sprague, Senior Vice President of Communications and External Relations at Alaska Airlines as a Keynote at GoGreen Seattle 2015 on April 30th.  Joe is the executive sponsor and champion of Alaska Airlines’ sustainability initiatives and chairs Alaska’s Sustainability Steering Committee.

Join us and learn more about how  Alaska Airlines Sustainability Steering committee sets their goals and drives sustainability initiatives forward.

GoGreen: How does Alaska come up with goals and metrics and then report back on the success of the Alaska Sustainability Program?

Joe Sprague: We have our executive-level sustainability steering committee which approves and prioritizes the metrics and goals.  Before goals get to the steering committee level for approval we have three working groups, representing the three pillars of sustainability (people, planet and performance) that help identify the priority issues in each area.    The working groups consists of senior management employees across the company who take into consideration regulatory and policy factors, stakeholder concerns, opportunities for innovation, and peer-based norms when setting our goals.  It’s a little like watching sausage being made sometimes, but ultimately it works.

GoGreen: Tell us about your proudest sustainability achievements over the past 5 years.

Joe Sprague: Two stand out in my mind for different reasons.  The first one is becoming the most fuel efficient (and carbon efficient) airline in the nation.  We’ve decreased the intensity of our carbon footprint by more than 30% in the past 10 years.

We invested millions of dollars in our fleet, so that we are flying the most fuel efficient aircraft available for our type of flying (and we purchase our planes locally, at a little company nearby called Boeing, by the way).  We also fly them extremely efficiently – we pioneered Required Navigation Performance in the early ‘90s to fly more precise (and efficient routes).  That type of technology is now being used in the Greener Skies over Seattle program which is reducing emissions and noise over the Seattle basis by flying more direct and efficient routes into the airport.  The neat thing is, this technology and flight procedures are now available to all other airlines, so that they can reduce their emissions and noise too.

The other achievement I am proud of is our inflight recycling program.  Our sister carrier, Horizon, was the first airline in the nation to implement a robust inflight recycling program in the late 1990’s.  What started as a grassroots effort by engaged employees has expanded into one of our service standards.  Now at both Alaska and Horizon, we capture the cups, bottles, paper, and cans to make sure they are recycled when we reach the next catering location.  This program has been an enormously challenging project. At Alaska Airlines alone, we remove (or “deplane”) our inflight waste in about 40 cities throughout 21 states and each city has a different infrastructure and requirements for sorting and recycling. We are especially proud of the flight attendants, who are now separating  more than 81 percent (AS & QX combined) of the recyclable materials during inflight service and we give kudos to our catering department and contract flight kitchens who support our recycling goals with 100 percent participation.

GoGreen: How does Alaska stand out against the competition as a leader in the airline and transportation industry around sustainability?

Joe Sprague: Alaska has ranked at the top of the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) U.S Domestic Airline Fuel Efficiency Ranking list for four years in a row (since they began analyzing data). This last year, it was a 3-way tie for first place, but with the fleet improvements we have planned, we’re hoping to recapture the top spot next year.

Today, Alaska and Horizon are the only U.S. domestic carriers to recycle mixed recyclables (including glass, paper, plastic and aluminum) on every flight.

Alaska has implemented many advancements  to stand apart from the competition over the years:

  • 1st use of sustainable aviation biofuel on regularly scheduled flights
  • 1st wind turbine installed at our Nome airport
  • We developed and are using the only solar-powered ground support equipment.
  • We’ve made concrete commitments to make measurable progress on reducing our environmental impacts

We are proud to support such initiative’s as a transportation company around sustainability.

To find out more about Alaska’s commitment to sustainable practices read their blog post “At Alaska Airlines, greener flying starts from the ground up.”

Event Details: GoGreen Seattle 2015, brought to you by King County, will take place Thursday, April 30, 2015 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595. Early Bird rates are good through Friday, March 27, 2015. Single Admission Early Bird Tickets are $175 and Group Rate Early Bird Tickets are $150 (groups of two or more).  Special registration rates for student, government and non-profits are available.

Green Line Series PDX | Jason Graham-Nye on the FTC’s updated Green Guides

Jason Graham-Nye_croppedGoGreen Portland is thrilled to welcome back Jason Graham-Nye, Co-Founder, gDiapers, to the speaker roster for the upcoming conference on October 16. Jason is an original speaker of the conference series and participated during the 2009 gathering of regional leaders making a difference way back then. We are excited to reconnect with Jason and learn how the company has changed since then and to give us a preview of his experience with the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides and the panel session he will be speaking on at GoGreen Portland!

GoGreen Conference: What has gDiapers been up to since we last heard from you in 2009 at our second annual conference?

Jason Graham-Nye: Since 2009 we moved into a “real” office, where we are able to offer more benefits to our employees, such as onsite daycare for our team. Since 2004, we had worked from home and had our ever-growing team come to the house each morning! The business has expanded into Europe with a small London-based team. We have seen a significant amount of growth across Europe where our sustainability message seems to resonate more closely with the consumer base.  

GoGreen Conference: During your session at GoGreen Portland on October 16th, you will speak about your experience with the updated Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides. What key points do you want our audience to take away from your experience?

JGN: The FTC has new guidelines including a new section on General Environmental Claims. Based on these new guidelines, no general environmental claims can be made with language, imagery or icons. That is a huge move as it essentially makes a green leaf on the side of a package, for example, run afoul of the guidelines. The term “eco-friendly” is also problematic. In our case, we used the term “eco-durable” (as in cute and eco-friendly) in our marketing which with the updated guidelines caused an issue. Another example is the tagline “Happy Baby, Happy Planet”.  In the past, that would be regarded as marketing puffery and just fine. Today, with the updated guidelines, the FTC requires that the claim that the baby is happy and the planet is happy is supported by an independent third party evidence. It is important to raise awareness of the new guidelines and ensure other companies are meeting the strict guides placed by the FTC.  

GoGreen Conference: Our 2014 conference theme focuses around, The Rise of the Commons: Investing in a Socially Sustainable Community — one that offers equity, diversity and growth to advance today’s community members and creates opportunities for tomorrow’s generation. Can you tell us how gDiapers and you personally are working towards this?

JGN: Since we launched in 2004 we have over 8,000 gMums & gDads – parents who use our products and volunteer for us across the US and UK. These amazing people go into stores and do checks on our sets, blog about us, host morning teas with other Mums and pitch in with us at trade shows. Some have created their own micro businesses, up-cycling our outer gPants and selling them on to new customers and expanding our reach as a company. We are continually thinking about how to engage with our Mums and Dads in unique and different ways to support them on their parenting journey.  

GoGreen Conference: Do you think there are any important sustainability or social responsibility practices business leaders in Oregon could learn from Australia?

JGN: Australia had a great deal to offer leaders of other regions of the world with the previous Governments leadership on a Carbon tax. It proved to be a very effective way to manage the issue and as an Australian I was very proud of that initiative. The new administration has scrapped that tax and in my opinion, has really lead the country backwards. As a country experiencing the full force of global warming – the canary in the coal mine effect, we are scrambling to bring in management systems such as limiting water use, trialing desalination plants, expanding solar etc. I think Portland may have more to offer Australia’s leadership at this point.   

Event Details

GoGreen Portland 2014, brought to you by the City of Portland, Multnomah County and METRO will take place on Thursday, October 16th at the Oregon Convention Center, Oregon Ballroom located at 777 Northeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard. Tickets are available online at portland.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 503.226.2377.  Student, government and non-profit registration rates are available.

Green Line Series PDX | Keynote, Adam Werbach

Focusing on our 2014 conference theme, The Rise of the Commons: Investing in a Socially Sustainable Community, we asked Adam Werbach, Co-Founder of yerdle and GoGreen Portland 2014 Keynote, to tell us how his company is driving the sharing economy and producing positive social impacts. Check out what we learned (and get excited for his Keynote!) below.

GoGreen CoAdam Werbachnference: The sharing economy is still a relatively new concept that many people do not fully understand. How would you define “sharing economy” to someone unfamiliar with the term?

Adam Werbach: With sharing economy there are activities that take underutilized resources bringing them to use through the application of technology and community.

GoGreen Conference: How does the model of yerdle play into the sharing economy?

AW: Right now it’s easier to buy something new rather than finding something sitting idle in a friend or neighbors closet. For the first time in history it’s easier to have something newly made for you than it is to use something that has already been produced. Yerdle helps people unlock the items that are sitting idle in their closets and garages and makes them available to people all through out the United States.

The idea of sharing items is nothing new. It’s how humanity has gone through hard times, has supported friends and family, it’s how we put together picnics, sports teams and crafts forever. Only in the last fifty years have we started having to buy something new and disposable. What sharing economy provides is an opportunity to return to the types of behaviors that have helped us survive forever. 

It’s less packaging, transportation, mining, oil etc. As an example I just got a camping coffee pot for free from yerdle from someone in Virginia. If I would have bought a new one the aluminum would have came from Australia, it would have been made from bauxite to aluminum in a large plant, shipped to China to be fabricated, shipped to Hong Kong to be packaged, shipped to the Midwest to be put into storage and then shipped to San Francisco for me to open it.  After that I would throw all the packaging away which would end up going into a landfill.

GoGreen Conference: According to Forbes, the revenue that flows through the sharing economy was an estimated $3.5 billion in 2013 and was projected to grow 25% this year. What is your prediction for 2014? Have you seen this type of growth in yerdle’s communities?

AW: I think the idea of the sharing economy is going to affect Americans pocket books in a way greater than almost any economic movement we’ve seen since probably the start of social security. This will mean real wages increasing for Americans. There will be two things. One is a student and moms with young children will be able to pick up flexible work to match their schedules. Secondly services like yerdle will start causing people to have to spend less money, which will in fact increase the power of wages. We’re out to decrease cost of durable goods by 25 percent, which many of our members have done already. Today 25,000 items a month are moved on yerdle.  In January the number was closer 1,000 items a month. It’s a pretty obvious idea if you have something in your garage that you’re not going to use why won’t you put it up and see what you can turn it into? It feels good getting rid of unused items and giving them to someone who would benefit from them.

GoGreen Conference:  There are many positive economic impacts to the sharing economy – what are some of the social impacts that occur?

AW: The biggest social impacts are individual. People are able to get their lives in order by entering a community of people who are all interested in the same things as them. I can give a few examples of stories of people helping teachers get their classrooms settled, new moms who have been left by their husbands trying to make ends meet or people trying to get to burning man and figuring out a way to do that. The broadest social impact from an ecological standpoint is the radical reduction of waste. The 25,000 items from this month are things that wouldn’t have needed to have been produced and would have been produced and bought online and shipped and packaged and manufactured. That’s kind of the most obvious piece however the community ones are the ones that I think feel the best.

GoGreen Conference: Do you see any age trends in those using the peer-to-peer market? Is there an average age bracket for yerdle users?

AW: It tends to see a little bit younger crowds.  Eighteen to thirty four is the demographic but late millennial are the quickest to adopt. We are mostly in apps so people with IPhones and Androids tend to be the ones using. It’s both young people trying to put things together who are not as stuff oriented and then young moms trying to get together the things they need.

GoGreen Conference: What are you hoping your audience will walk away with and gain from your keynote address at GoGreen?

AW: If you believe like I do that we are not efficiently using all the greatest resources on the planet and the greatest one being people. Think about what’s being wasted right now in your home, office and among your friends. Discover the blank paper, how would we engage them? How would we take those lonely hours and turn them into productive activity? How would we take those items that are stuffed into the back of your closet and make them actually produce something that we actually want? How would we make sure that car sitting in the back of your garage is actually used? My grandmother always taught me wasting is almost a crime. How do we take that seriously? Just because we can afford to have new items doesn’t mean we should.

Event Details

GoGreen Portland 2014, brought to you by the City of Portland, Multnomah County and METRO will take place on Thursday, October 16th at the Oregon Convention Center, Oregon Ballroom located at 777 Northeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard. Tickets are available online atportland.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 503.226.2377. Early Bird rates are good through Tuesday, September 16th, 2014. Single Admission Early Bird Full Conference tickets are $175 and Group Rate Early Bird Tickets are $150 (groups of two or more). Student, government and non-profit registration rates are available.