Eco Tuesday

Two nights ago I attended my first Eco Tuesday event in San Francisco. Eco Tuesdays are informal get-togethers of various individuals and entrepreneurs who are all involved in “greening” the world to some degree or other. Unfortunately, the featured speaker (the editor of Ode Magazine) was unable to make the meeting due to illness, thus allowing the organizers to re-arrange the format and let attendees volunteer to present an “extended elevator pitch” to the others there. It was great to hear what everyone there was up to–from sustainable forestry to sustainable fishing, this was definitely a group of people whose commitment to social and environmental work was inspirational.

When it came my turn, my extended elevator pitch about the benefits of palm wax candles and the dangers of paraffin candles evolved into a Q & A session. Although several people in the group were well aware that paraffin candles emitted carcinogens, the majority seemed to not know much about paraffin wax at all. Which is common. After all, there’s so many toxic substances in the world–many of which go unnoticed–that it’s hard to keep tabs on it all. That’s where GoodLight comes in…we’re here to raise the awareness about the different types of candle wax, and what cheap candles do to our lungs when we breath in their fumes.

Many of the folks there also didn’t know much about palm, and those who did know seemed only to associate with deforestation. I explained that deforestation has been a major issue in the palm issue in the past decades, and in some areas, some growers are still destroying native forests. Which is why the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil was created–to promote and enforce social responsibility and sustainable farming practices (including a commitment to preserving existing forests and peat lands). The RSPO has gotten a lot of flak from environmental groups for not being tough enough on their members. This has always seemed a harsh criticism to me. What other industry has taken it upon itself to create such a set of stringent criteria to protect the environment; don’t most industries ignore their destructive practices until the government steps in? Anyway, it was really encouraging to come home that night after such a great time at Eco Tuesday and find this article about the RSPO considering the expulsion of one of its members for breaching its sustainability criteria. Indeed, the RSPO seems to be having a positive impact.

Once again we want to iterate that the best way to help the palm industry become more eco-friendly is to work with it. That’s why we’re members of the RSPO and why we pay GreenPalm for the palm oil we use–to ensure that RSPO-certified farmers are getting rewarded for doing the right thing. If enough of us stand together and demand corporate accountability, we’ll all (eventually, hopefully) become better stewards of the planet.



One Percent of the Story

Ever since we first conceived of GoodLight Natural Candles, we have wanted our company to have a positive impact on our planet and its people. That’s why we joined forces with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, GreenPalm, and 1% For The Planet in the very beginning–even before we had any palm wax candles to sell. Started in 2002 by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, 1% For The Planet has grown exponentially in the past few years, signing up businesses worldwide that pledge to give 1% of their gross revenues to environmental non-profits. I could tell you more, but our Telluride friends Ben Knight & Travis Rummel are much better storytellers than I am. Check out their latest short, One Percent of the Story and get inspired.

(By the way, GoodLight is Member #1812, hopefully to be seen in the sequel.)

Bi-Coastal Curious

Ever since Jon and I started talking about the candle company that we wanted to start one day–the company now called GoodLight–we envisioned that Jon would maintain the “home office” in Colorado where he and his family lived, while I ran the “front office” in New York City where I lived. And so it has gone, up until now. As of this week, I’ll be running the GoodLight front office from San Francisco–at least for the rest of 2010. As retail interest in GoodLight has grown on the West Coast at a quicker pace than we had anticipated, Jon and I decided that I should relocate here, at least for a while.

And the timing couldn’t be better. After a month-long pit-stop in Telluride–where the August air was a bit cooler than in Brooklyn–followed by a vacation week in Black Rock City en route to California, I’ve arrived to the Bay Area just as it eases into what is traditionally its sunniest and warmest season. So for the next several months or so, I’ll be roaming up and down the coast spreading more GoodLight into stores and restaurants and hotels that want the world’s most affordable, paraffin-free candles. And on my days off, I’ll be walking along in the Mission in the sun. Or perhaps pretending to surf in the chilly waters of the shark-infested Pacific.

As for our customers in New York, both present and future, we haven’t abandoned you. Jon and I will be returning to the Big Apple to check in frequently. In fact, once we’ve acquired our new company jet, I’ll probably spend alternating weeks on each coast with fuel stops in Telluride. At least, that’s the dream. (If you buy more GoodLight, you can help make the dream come true.)