Washington state's green movement plants prosperity

By Tom Pierson, Federal Way Chamber CEO

Washington state has done more than just commit to lessening its global footprint — it has acted upon that commitment.

Nationwide, Washington ranks fifth in wind power generation. Our state’s use of the green energy, largely led by Puget Sound Energy’s 300-foot-tall windmills, has already helped hold down electricity costs and promote conservation.

Furthermore, the very symbol of our state government, the capitol building in Olympia, has the largest array of solar panels of any other state capitol building in the United States.

With Washington emerging as a leader in the green brigade, it’s only natural that Federal Way, the state’s seventh-largest city, follow suit. Will going green have our business owners seeing red? What sort of painstaking measures will we need to take? More important, what will it cost?

“Going green” does not need to be extreme or expensive. In fact, the best approach is a balanced one — where sensible people come together for the betterment of our environment and our local community and economy.

“Going Green” doesn’t have to mean inviting The Earth Liberation Front to shop for office space downtown. Our community is probably not an ideal environment for the anarchistic underground movement recently linked to the string of arsons on the “Street of Dreams.”

“Going green” does not mean the city will join the Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club either. At least not anytime soon, considering we are still collectively feeling the sting from the club’s campaign to reject the Roads and Transit package, something our city desperately counted on.

Don’t get me wrong — we love our environmental avengers in Federal Way. As you know, our city is the proud home to Friends of the Hylebos, headed by our own local Chris Carrel.

Carrel and his troop of ecological superheroes are prime examples of how environmental groups should lead — by advocating through cooperation with businesses and the city, and uniting a community around a common cause everyone can embrace.

“Going green” can be easier than we think. One example is to partner our business with innovators like Cedar Grove Organics Recycling who provide organic commercial recycling programs incorporating food scraps and plant/wood scraps. Many emerging green niche businesses like Cedar Grove Organics provide services that not only lessen bulk in our landfills and conserve energy, but actually save our businesses money.

We are not going to accomplish everything overnight. In fact, it’s a very long road ahead. Still, there are existing groups in place that can help us make up for lost time — groups like the Cascade Land Conservancy’s Cascade “100 Years Forward” Agenda. Resources like these may help us as a city develop local policies and advocate at the state level to encourage land conservancy through private and public partnerships.

“Going green” does not mean becoming fanatics, or living a paranoid doomsday existence. It just means doing our part locally. It means doing something as simple as recycling in our offices and homes, or moving toward paperless processes, or volunteering with one of Chris Carrel’s work parties.

Ultimately we can make Federal Way, Washington state and our world a better place and home for our children and grandchildren.

Tom Pierson is CEO of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce. Contact: tomp@federalwaychamber.com or (253) 838-2605. Also visit www.voiceofsouthsound.com.

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