5 Young, Green CEOs: Creative Green Entrepreneurs Who Got Started Early in Life


photo: Green Jobs Now

It's gotten harder and harder to remain optimistic about the dejected state of our economy. No doubt each day the news gets bleaker, except in one major sector, green collar jobs. In fact, the US Conference of Mayors announced that 4.2 million new jobs are likely to be created in the green economic sector of the U.S. economy.

Want to get in on the green collar economy and need some inspiration? Read on to find out how a healthy mix of ambition, forethought, and sheer entrepreneurial skills has taken five of the youngest green CEOs to the to the top of the green executive ladder:

Adam Werbach, CEO Saatchi & Saatchi S



photo: Fast Company

At 23 Adam Werbach was the youngest ever president of the Sierra Club, the oldest and largest environmental organization in the United States. Under his leadership, the Sierra Club helped create the largest new national park in the country and protects over 3 million additional acres of public land.

Werbach left the Sierra Club and in 1998 founded Act Now (which was bought earlier this year by Saatchi & Saatchi) as an environmental consulting firm that advises huge corporate clients in their green initiatives.

In fact, Werbach was widely considered to be sleeping with the enemy, when his firm recently took on Wal-Mart as a client. Earlier this year, Werbach wrote about some of his experiences with Wal-Mart for TreeHugger.

Other influential clients include World Wildlife Fund, General Mills, and Kaiser Permanente.

Ephren W. Taylor II, CEO City Capital and the Goshen Energy Initiative

photo: Amoro Financial

Ephren W. Taylor II is the CEO of City Capital. Taylor is the youngest African-American CEO of any publicly traded company ever. He started his first business venture at age 12, when he began making videogames. By age 17, he built a multi-million dollar technology company, GoFerretGo.com.

In 2007, at City Capital Corporation, Taylor started the Goshen Energy initiative, which focuses on producing alternative energy specializing in biofuels. Taylor’s commitment to green energy is part of his concept of empowering local communities with both profitable and socially-conscious investing and development. It partners with educational institutions and community development organizations to create small reactor sites that take recycled waste and create biofuel. It then sells the fuel back through a distributor, or through retail fuel sites. It currently has a 50,000,000 gallon distribution deal in the Southeast.

Kyle Berner, CEO of Feelgoodz

photo: FeelGoodz

At 28 years of age, Kyle Berner can already call himself way more than just a dreamer. Inspired by TOMs Shoes' Founder Blake Mycoskie, Berner has found a new way to make money and give back with shoes. This year he started Feelgoodz shoes and while it's certainly a for profit business, the all natural shoe manufacturer has a three part charitable mission. It's called 1 percent for the Planet, 1 percent for the people, and 1 percent for Phitsanulok.

One Percent for the Planet
Feelgoodz is committed to creating a sustainable business. The company uses natural rubber, hemp, and bamboo. It also uses recycled paper and recycled flop hangers and the company's contribution to 1% for the Planet enables them to support environmental organizations worldwide.

One Percent for the People
The company demands fair wages and expects proper working conditions. Currently, there are no natural rubber fair trade programs set in place, and therein lies part of its cause. By donating part of one percent of profits it aims to help create the necessary systems and processes to implement a Fair Trade Natural Rubber Program in Thailand.

One Percent For Phitsanulok
Another part of its mission is to strengthen the communities in Thailand, especially in Phitsanulok. That’s where Berner lived while in Thailand. His long term and lofty goal is donate part of the one percent of profits to helping to develop an infrastructure that focuses on creating and sustaining healthy economies for the people in Southeast Asia.

David Anderson, Founder & Publisher of Green Options

photo: Live Green SD

David Anderson is the Founder and Publisher of Green Options Media. Green Options Media is a growing network of environmentally-focused blogs that provides users with a broad spectrum of information for making sustainable choices. It was launched in February 2007, shortly after Anderson graduated from the University of California, San Diego. Anderson started his first blog on the nexus of energy and environmental issues in 2006, and has focused exclusively on renewable energy, sustainability, green business, and environmental politics ever since.

Maggie Dawson, Founder of Maggie's Pure Land Products

photo: Maggie's Pure Land Products

At the age of 29, Maggie Dawson is the head of a successful company Maggie's Pure Land Products that sells soap nuts, the dried fruit from the Chinese soapberry tree as a natural, environmentally friendly alternative to laundry detergent.

Maggie first learned about the dried soap nuts when she was visiting a friend in Europe. Upon her return to the United States, she tried to find and order them online and came up empty-handed. After doing extensive research on soap nuts, she decided that she wanted to open a business that sold them.

Today her soap nuts are available at over 1,000 retail outlets across the United States, Canada, and other countries. The company also donates 10 percent of net profits to charity.

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Tags: Activism | Corporate Responsibility | Green Jobs

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