This past Saturday I was a co-host on the radio show Emilie and Friends, which is broadcast on WVON 1690-AM every Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. I got the opportunity late Thursday afternoon, which is the reason I didn't mention it in last week's column.
The show focused on "green" jobs, the much touted field everyone is talking about as the key to our slowing rebounding economy. If you're like me, you're not really sure what a "green" job is. Because of the multitude of experts that were part of the show on Saturday, I'm now better versed and able to explain what the "green" economy is.
First off, the term "green" just means anything involved in being ecologically responsible. Windows that keep in cool air in the summer and hot air in the winter are now "green" as opposed to just being called "energy efficient." The job of manufacturing those window to installing those windows to even the selling the windows all fall under the "green" umbrella.
Once I was able to understand the "green" economy in those terms, it was easy to understand the entire spectrum of jobs that can be created as a part of the process. Banks will lend money to buy, manufacture or install the windows. There will be a need for someone to move the windows from the factory to the store, and then from the store to the location where the windows will be used. There are jobs to be had in designing the house that uses those windows. There will be jobs designing landscaping products that will be used around the house that will help to make the house even "greener." The scope gets even bigger when you add wind and solar power as major catalysts for the "green" economy. Those new industries, for the most part, will be created right here in this country with jobs that cannot be outsourced.
Another interesting dimension of the "green" movement is urban farming. One of the best examples comes out of Milwaukee, Wis. Besides creating urban gardens which help produce fresh fruits and vegetables locally within the city, there are projects that include Aquaponics where fish like Tilapia and Yellow Perch can be raised indoors. Urban beekeepers produce honey and products that utilize it. There are those who raise worms, which produce manure, the perfect fertilizer for your plants and garden. It is easy to see how "green" is a full circle of things that are interrelated.
In the last hour of the show, one of the guests mentioned reusing items that normally would go into a landfill when houses are demolished to make way for a new home. I immediately thought of my own kitchen. My original kitchen was a horrible sight to see. Imagine yellow plastic tiles on the wall topped off with black bull-nose tiles. The floors were an ugly red and white checkerboard tile. The cabinets were OK, but didn't give me any countertop room. When I had a second story added and the kitchen was partially destroyed in the process, it gave me an opportunity to redo the kitchen.
As most people are aware, remodeling a kitchen is costly. Saving money became my main goal. What I ended up doing was finding a house in Winnetka that was about to be torn down. The cabinets were extra tall and one needs to have ceilings at least 9 feet high to use cabinets that are 4 feet tall. I was the only one who bid on the cabinets and ended up paying $700 for an entire kitchen of cabinets. I paid a friend to remove them and then re-used them in my own kitchen.
I did it because of economics, but this is also part of the new "green" industry. Companies now specialize in selling parts of houses to be used by people when they need parts to repair their own vintage homes. There are even resale stores that specialize in selling those items for the home.
Here on the West Side, we have the Chicago Center for Green Technology at 445 N. Sacramento. I would suggest that anyone who wants to learn more about the future of "green," and the jobs that can come with it, visit the center and learn more.
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