ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Green Work: Finding Your Right Livelihood

Updated on October 30, 2009

Five Tips - Five Topics

Do you love your work?

Alternative energy: a techie's calling...
Alternative energy: a techie's calling...
Teaching, alternative heating, natural building
Teaching, alternative heating, natural building
Timber-framing apprentices practicing 'the old way' of squaring off a corner brace (the 'hand-hewn' look goes for a premium nowadays)
Timber-framing apprentices practicing 'the old way' of squaring off a corner brace (the 'hand-hewn' look goes for a premium nowadays)
Restoring and remodeling with salvaged materials.
Restoring and remodeling with salvaged materials.
Making beautiful, durable, useful objects
Making beautiful, durable, useful objects
Goofing off with kids in the woods...
Goofing off with kids in the woods...

Right Livelihood: Building a Green Career

You buy the right products, choose the right hobbies, avoid the Evil Habits.

But can you work green, and feed your family at the same time?

Others have done it. People started collecting free fryer oil to run their biodiesel cars, and now there's a market for it. People started looking to save money by building smarter homes, and now they're profitable and tax-deductible too!

How do you find a career, business opportunity, or job that will support you and the planet?

You can search online for "jobs for the environment," but these are mostly a narrow niche. Outdoor education, conservation, and the politics of natural resource management. Basically, it's people working outdoors or telling other people how to be more environmental - and unless you have special skills, they don't pay that well.

What's your passion? What are your best skills, or expertise? You can find satisfying work, that you are good at, that also supports sustainability.

What Is Sustainable Business?
I recommend The Natural Step guidelines to understand what makes a business sustainable, and help you look for a green niche. Briefly, their four scientifically-derived principles are:

  • Don't eat your seed stock (protect diversity, avoid physically degrading living systems)
  • Don't pave the biosphere faster than it grows back (avoid systematically increasing crustal mineral concentrations)
  • Don't release persistent chemicals faster than they break down.
  • Don't systematically prevent people from meeting their needs. Work for equity, justice, and peace. (Everyone in the world is in this together.)

TNS also offers very useful business tools to meeting these goals, such as the "ABCD Approach." They fundamentally believe that the people in the business have the best motivation, and the best opportunity, to make that business sustainable.

What is Your Niche?
Be your best self. Use your existing skills or job, and make it more sustainable. If you need to build new skills or contacts, consider volunteering or using the "informational interview" process described in What Color Is Your Parachute?

If you are great at accounting, finance, or business management, you can target green cost-saving opportunities in your worksplace, or help a green startup succeed. Some colleges offer specific courses in sustainable business, and these can be a great way to build skills and network for future jobs.

If you are great with your hands and love power tools, consider helping to build and retrofit green buildings, or manufacture sustainable products like recycled wood furniture, custom bicycles, or outdoor recreation equipment. Check out local businesses that feature 'green' products and see if they run a good shop or are considering a remodel. Offer ideas to your boss or union rep about ways to make your existing job more efficient, less toxic, or both.

If you are great at art, writing, or other creative passions, you don't have to stick with farmer's markets, craft fairs, or niche agents. Consider marketing green products, opening (or selling to) an online store, making a deal with your local health food store to sell your work, or designing earth-friendly necessities and luxuries.

If you are a technical whiz, consider some of the emergent problems in alternative energy, transportation, and information sharing. Start or join an online forum. Listen to your clients, offer tools that work well, save paper, and share resources. Develop local biofuels (Smokeless wood heat?). Go places: Recumbent bicycles, Catamaran sailboats. Find the efficiency breakthrough, and you have a marketable, sustainable opportunity.

If you have a recurring problem in going green, even a petty one - say, you can't wear a bike helmet over your favorite hat - see if your friends have the same problem. Problem + skill = opportunity.

You can "green" your current job, build a side business, train in a new field using sustainability-focused grants and loans, or start an eco-empire.

Most of all, do your work whole-heartedly, and do what you know is right


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)