E Magazine - 2010: Start of Our Make-or-Break Decade?

What Green Leaders Think Comes Next

Last Earth Day, we reached out to some of the brightest green movers and shakers, and asked them how they were going to spend the day, as well as how they thought the rest of the year would go. Now that 2010 has begun, we thought it would be a great time to circle back, take stock of our progress and look to the future. It's a whole new decade, with infinite opportunities, in addition to considerable challenges.

Here's to a happy, productive and meaningful decade!

I have hope for 2010 to unfold with a bright eye for growth in domestically generated renewable energy, a new generation of vehicles such as plug-in hybrids, and the sustainable growth of the social entrepreneur sector to harness for-profit business to impact social change with power and profits.

I see social entrepreneur ventures as where the rubber meets the road with regards to capital economy and social backbone. It's a place where real change can happen, where businesses that want to take a meaningful role in sustainable practices (both economically and ecologically) can be heroic. Where companies and consumers can put our money where our mouths are. It's a place where the private sector can influence change and grow the sustainable marketplace. As a consumer, I look to use my dollars to support sustainability, whether that is a product that is manufactured responsibly and has a low impact on the planet or a company that is fostering conscious, sustainable economy and ecology.

I don't think I'm alone with this way of thinking and I'm harnessing my time and energy into a number of projects on the burners and getting out into the media to promote them. I have been working with Purina as a spokesperson for their eco-friendly goods. Our 2009 "Do Gooder" Award contest was a great success and we are gearing up for another national campaign with the support of eco-fashion designers, to infuse a "Do Gooder" contest with style and substance. For me, this type of social entrepreneurship is an ideal fusion of ecology, economy, and social impact. It feels good to do good, and my vision of 2010 is to continue to grow that part of myself.

--Renée Loux is an author, eco-consultant, TV personality, chef, restaurateur and columnist for Women's Health Magazine. ReneeLoux.com


A brave new decade awaits each of us. With 2020 just ahead, my prediction is that humanity will begin gaining perfect vision in the year ahead. Together we will dream up and co-create a preferred common future -- greener, climate-healthier, more just and loving -- and that each of us will take action every day to ensure that every person and species in our interconnected world can thrive, with dignity and sufficiency.

--Wendy E. Brawer, founder of GreenMap.org, eco-designer, community media and cycling advocate


2010 is going to be the year when so much of the energy and effort of the past decades on behalf of the environment will come to fruition. Both the public and governments around the world have taken notice, and are understanding and acting on environmental concerns like deforestation, global warming, species extinction and freshwater depletion. These are not just feel-good campaigns, but are issues that impact economies, security, health and humanity's very survival. This year and the coming decade will see a cementing of environmental issues in the priorities and agendas of every country, concurrent with the continued and very real impact of climate change, which will only serve to remind us how little time we have to address these problems before it's too late.

Specifically, I'm excited to see the rise of vertical gardens and farms, which bring the best of the country to the high-density (and lower-impact) lifestyle of cities. Great design will enable us to do what we haven't been able to (or even thought of) before. I think designers, farmers and scientists will be the heroes of the new century. I think a more holistic way of looking at the world, as well as our own bodies, will keep us healthier, which will also force us to reconsider our resource use as our stay on the planet lengthens. Humanity has the capacity to live on this planet in a healthy, fair, responsible and sustainable way; this decade is the one where we will make it so. Or perish.

--Starre Vartan, founder of Eco-Chick, author of The Eco Chick Guide to Life and columnist at Huffington Post and Greenopia.


My hope for 2010 is that we recognize and honor the lessons that have already been presented to us, so that we move into a way of life that is filled with love and integrity. I believe that when we are able to see the bigger picture we are more motivated to do little things like use reusable bags and eat less meat. We can also more easily understand the sacred connection between our health and the health of all life on this planet.

In measurable terms, a deep hope of mine is that citizens, corporations and policy makers finally move away from coal, nuclear power and petro-based living and fully support healthy energy sources such as wind and solar. No matter what happens this year or any other year, may our actions always be as strong as our vision.

--Rachel Avalon, 2009 Project Green Search Winner and activist, RachelAvalon.com  


Copenhagen. Copenhagen. Copenhagen. Say what you will about national leaders dropping the ball, Copenhagen relaunched the global movement to fight climate change. Tens of thousands of people marched, millions participated via a remarkably present media, and thousands of leaders (mayors, activists, governors, and yes CEOs) did what they are supposed to do: lead. They did so by confronting climate change realities and committing their cities, organizations, states and companies to more sustainable futures. We saw it.

So despite the monopoly of fossil-fuel political power, critical incremental change is happening. China alone will have 900 gigawatts of renewable energy online by 2010. And if the resurrection of electric vehicles is any indication, change is happening in all corners. We are in the final months of filming, and almost every major car company has electric cars hitting the road in the coming two years. Whether all of this will save our skins is a question for fatalists. Keeping Earth inhabitable is the right fight. As my favorite Copenhagen street sign proclaimed: "There is No Planet B."

--Chris Paine, director of Who Killed the Electric Car? and Revenge of the Electric Car (2011)


I think 2010 is going to be a big year for LED (light emitting diode) technology, since more consumers are beginning to understand why an initial investment in LEDs upfront makes sense for longterm savings. It started with LED holiday string lights selling out at stores, and I think we'll see brand extensions in table and floor lamps, light bulbs and more laptops/TVs with LED technology in the screens.

We're also going to see the incandescent light bulb phase out and become virtually obsolete, much like VHS tapes and fax machines...

--Danny Seo, green designer to the stars, green entrepreneur, author and media personality dannyseo.com


I might be projecting myself on the rest of the world, but I think there will be a return or revival in self-reliance...gardening, home cooking, less shopping. I think 2010 feels like one of those years to really do the one thing that is meaningful to you and reflect on it along the way...

--Summer Rayne Oakes, model, TV host, activist and green entrepreneur, Summerrayne.net


BRIAN CLARK HOWARD is the Home and Eco-Tips Editor of The Daily Green.