Though there are many people working to make Boston a more environmentally sustainable city, these three individuals are truly paving the way for environmental change and have had some of the most positive influence on policy, awareness and business.
Mayor Thomas Menino – The Political Innovator
When it comes to environmental leadership in Boston (the most energy-efficient city in the United States), it’s hard for anyone to match up against the outgoing mayor, Thomas Menino. Over the past 20+ years, Menino has solidified the city as a center for greentech innovation and sustainable infrastructure. He oversaw the creation of green spaces such as the Rose Kennedy Greenway and helped develop informational efficiency programs such as Renew Boston and Greenovate Boston. When facing opponents during his mayoral elections, Menino was endorsed by the Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters (MLEV). Menino also attended countless ribbon cutting ceremonies for green business openings in the city to highlight the importance of environmental issues and to show his support for businesses and organizations taking action.
Lori Popkewitz Alper – The Social Media Spokeswoman
As a local green living blogger, Lori’s message of sustainability and healthy living reaches thousands of people through the internet. Not only does her blog Groovy Green Livin explain the science behind environmental and health concerns, it also explains how individuals can take action to protect themselves and the planet. Reading the blog gives Boston residents countless ideas for reducing their carbon footprint and reducing toxic chemicals in their home. In addition to teaching people through her blog, Lori also uses it as a platform to gain support when going up against big businesses with questionable practices. Last year, Lori drafted a petition asking Tide to stop the use of chemicals 1,4-dioxane. The chemical 1,4-dioxane, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, can cause vertigo, drowsiness, anorexia, headaches and can irritate the eyes, nose and throat. More serious exposures are linked to liver and kidney damage. Through her expansive outreach campaign, Lori secured over 78,000 signatures on the petition and Tide ultimately agreed to drastically reduce its use of the chemical in consumer products.
Laury Hammel – The Business Collaborator
Of course, a city cannot “go green” without the collaboration and enthusiasm of the businesses housed there. To create more cohesive business engagement in environmental issues, Laury Hammel founded the Sustainable Business Network (SBN). Formerly the New England Business Association for Social Responsibility, the organization was created in 1988 to minimize the negative impact of business on the planet. The organization draws together business leaders from all sector to discuss business ethics, local economy building, environmental sustainability, social and environmental justice and local food. SBN serves as a platform for the member organizations to come up with multi-faceted solutions to these issues. The network is also a useful tool for city residents because they can go online and look through the SBN Local Green Guide to find a green business or service. Laury is also a vocal leader of the local living movement which supports small businesses and reduces carbon footprint.
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Cameron Bruns is the founder of BostonGreenBlog.com and co-author of Just Us Gals Boston. She lives in Boston’s North End, where her goal is to promote ethical, stylish, and sustainable lifestyle choices to all Boston residents. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.