Ring Around the (Green) Collar

I was folding laundry and listening to one of the Presidential debates the other night – not listening too closely as the candidates were mostly squabbling. Suddenly, I heard one of them say “green infrastructure” and then another said “green jobs.” I looked up from my unmatched socks – were the candidates really talking green infrastructure, like using natural techniques to reduce polluted stormwater runoff?

It turns out that, people (and politicians!) are finally making the connection that good decisions for the environment are also good for the economy and communities. The Washington Post describes several proposals for green collar workers to create jobs in green industries as part of the plan to achieve energy independence. And as Thomas Freidman explained in his column The Green Collar Solution, activists like Van Jones who work in low income areas know that communities need jobs more than they care about melting glaciers. Thus, projects at the Ella Baker Center and elsewhere are aiming to create green collar job training programs to reduce poverty while also creating a broader constituency to stop global warming.

Jobs for clean water are also key to healthy rivers and healthy communities. Around here, D.C. Greenworks trains people to install green roofs and Americorps has trained thousands in ecological restoration techniques.

It might take a while before green collar jobs are as common as blue and white collar ones, but there’s certainly a lot of work to be done. Think of all the people who could be employed retrofitting high efficiency plumbing fixtures and installing rain gardens with a well trained green work force.

Now back to my laundry pile – I’m only folding green collared shirts now…