Green.

To some it is just a color. To others it is a new way of existing.

As our population grows so do our energy demands, which have a mostly negative impact on our planet. The Earth is warming at a steady pace and while we can argue the causes of this until the cows come home, at the end of the day we are the only ones who can do anything to stop it. It will take many people using different methods to enact real change, but more and more it is becoming a necessity to our very survival.

It seems as if every other day we hear about a new ecological disaster. Oil spills pollute our waters and kill wildlife while their emissions pollute our air. Coal also pollutes our air as it is burned to make electricity, while the risks of getting it out of the ground increase every day as mine disasters increase, and the dangers do not stop at cave ins. A mine underneath Centralia, Pennsylvania caught fire in 1962 and has been burning ever since, making the town uninhabitable and eventually forcing the federal government to relocate its citizens. The mine is estimated to continue to burn for the next 250 years.

We tell ourselves to be practical, that change this scale takes time. We have to wait for the technology to advance to be better equipped to do what is necessary.

We tell ourselves that this is just the way things are and relent to the constant attacks against sense so common our youngest children could tell you, “This is wrong, this is killing us, and we should stop it before it is too late.”

Placing blame isn’t as important as resolving this crisis and doesn’t change the fact that we are the only beings on this Earth who can do something about it. We need to move past blame and rise to the challenge of our times, as generations before us have risen to their challenges. From out of the darkness we must find the light of our common humanity within us and unite against this grave threat to our planet.

It may seem a massive undertaking, but there are little things we all can do to help.

We at Catalyst Ranch have done everything we can to diminish our negative ecological impact on our environment since our inception. We constantly think of ways to reduce, reuse and recycle:  from the décor to the dish soap we think green.

Our space is filled with vintage furniture, which would otherwise have ended up in landfills, and we restore when these pieces are damaged rather than throw them away.

We recycle all electronics; use environmentally friendly painting and staining supplies; and we use CFL bulbs in our vintage floor lamps. We have a battery regenerator to get extra life out of non-rechargeable batteries before recycling them. We get up to fifty more uses out of one battery using the regenerator before having to buy brand new ones.

We do our own shopping and source things locally as much as possible to keep deliveries (and therefore carbon emissions) to a minimum. For years we have been donating leftovers from our catered lunches, as well as clothing and other necessities to a local homeless shelter instead of throwing useful and needed things out and adding them to landfills.

We try to be thoughtful about turning off lights in unused rooms and keep a close watch on our thermostats to consume as little energy as possible, and it doesn’t stop there.

This year we purchased a Trash Compactor to reduce the volume of waste that ends up in landfills from between four to six cubic yards a week, down to two cubic yards. Compacting also reduces the number of weekly garbage pick-ups, and therefore, carbon emissions.

We also retrofitted our track lighting this year, switching from 75 watt Halogen Flood Lights to 12 watt LED bulbs, reducing our energy consumption from lighting by 75%. And the life of each bulb is expected to be around 10 years! The change will also reduce cooling costs in the summer as LED bulbs do not waste electricity by generating heat like incandescent bulbs do.

We realized from the start that profitability and responsibility go hand in hand; as we consume less we lower our overhead and promote a green environment within and beyond our walls. The switch to LEDs alone will save us $30,000 in electrical costs in the next 5 years. Our compactor also saves us money as we reduced the size of our dumpsters and the frequency of trash pick ups. The Chicago Federation of Musicians, who rent the offices downstairs, liked our approach and have joined us in compacting and sharing our dumpsters, which saves them money and reduces their waste volume too.

Green is a part of our culture here at Catalyst Ranch.  It isn’t the easiest part, but it is rewarding in many ways and for myriad reasons. We are always looking to educate ourselves in new green technologies and advocate them to whoever will listen.

I for one am proud of my contribution to our green efforts and ideology, of the example Catalyst Ranch sets. I hope we inspire others and welcome all to join us in our approach to being an environmentally responsible business.

Together we can weather any storm and overcome the most insurmountable of obstacles. Together we can make the impossible possible. Together we have sent men to the moon, and together we can save our world form irreversible environmental devastation.

Won’t you join the Green Initiative?