“Green” versus “Sustainability”

Everywhere you look, people are trying to be “green.” “Green” design, “green” products, and even “green” concierge services whose sole purpose is to procure “green” goods and services. “Green” is the current buzzword for all things that are good for the environment. A, noble cause given that our environment hangs constantly in a tenacious balance. And since it is the current buzz, everyone, it seems, is getting on the bandwagon from grocery stores to suppliers of everyday goods to service providers.

But seriously, why “green”?

Well, it’s a simple, single, unobtrusive word that can be synonymous with environmentalism. Ever since the green movement started in the 1960’s with the birth of Earth Day, people have been made more aware of their surrounding environment. Many people remember the commercials with Iron Eyes Cody crying at the sight of a ruined landscape. Being “green” meant doing right by the environment as it does to this day. Recycling, turning your A/C up to 78degrees, and other energy and water saving concepts grew from this movement.

Then enter the rest of the story, the balance of being “green:” consumables. It started small, with small groups looking for locally grown produce. Architects and builders started to look at local materials mostly due to cost, but also the reduced transportation costs and pollution. And it grew, looking at aspect after aspect of living and tuning it to be “green.” Even the United States Government got involved passing law after law regulating energy efficiency, water efficiency, and indoor environments. Soon the movement passed from shadow and into the limelight in the 1990’s when it was fashionable to be “green.”

Simple, right? Be “green” and the Earth will be better. Our environment will be preserved and even made better. But it is here where our story hits the wall of consumerism: enter “green washing,” or the practice of proclaiming an item as “green” but it is anything but. More on that in another post…

But back to the original idea: “green”

About the time that green washing came around, the “green” movement stated to evolve, as most movements do. It became apparent that just living “green” would not work with humanity as a whole. Seriously, being hardcore “green” meant giving up many of our guilty pleasures, something that the general public simply would not do. So what was the answer? Well let’s do something to sustain the Earth and humanity, something “sustainable.”

Sustainability helps to strike the balance between being “green” and everyday life. A prime example is paper. To be “green” meant not cutting down trees and recycling paper indefinitely. In theory this concept is a good idea, but in practice not so much. Why? Well, think about this:

Paper comes from trees, it grows in a forest owned by a person, group, consortium, you get the basic picture. That tree has value, so it is harvested by a lumberjack. It is hauled to a local mill, chipped up and processed into paper. At this stage, you could substitute everything up until the processing with recycled content, but let’s look at what happens if we were “green”:

–          The tree is saved

–          A lumberjack loses his job

–          The hardware store does not sell the chainsaw

–          The trucking company does not have a client

–          The trucker loses income

–          The mill reduces its staff, and eliminates machinery

What the basic rundown is the tree is saved, but at an economic price. And it gets exponential. But looking at this in a “sustainable” format, you get the same thing, a tree that gets harvested, but grown in a managed forest that encourages diversity. The trees are taken from a smaller area, and the forest is not clear cut. Environments are preserved while stabilizing the economy.



And if you are curious about what you read above – check it out for yourself: www.fscus.org. That’s right the US Forestry Stewardship Council – a certifying entity who makes sure that the wood is being produced in a sustainable fashion.

So we could be “green” by being “sustainable.” And by being “sustainable” we can preserve our living environment and our business environment as well.

St. Pete Beach Abandons Local Experiment in Amendment 4

(Orlando, FL – November 5, 2009) Since beginning a 3-year experiment in Amendment 4-style rule, St. Pete Beach residents have seen endless lawsuits, higher taxes and widespread economic turmoil.[i] On Tuesday, the citizens of St. Pete Beach scaled back their local version of Amendment 4 so that only certain land use changes require a referendum. While Florida voters are set to soon decide the fate of Amendment 4 – a statewide Vote on Everything initiative – St. Pete Beach voters have chosen to rein in their own local experiment by a decisive 60-40 margin.

“St. Pete Beach residents are tired of voting on everything, especially issues that don’t even relate to development,” said Ward Friszolowski, former Mayor of St. Pete Beach. “This amendment doesn’t work. It has resulted in chaotic, confusing and expensive elections driven by sound bites rather than sound planning.”


  • November, 2006: St. Pete Beach narrowly adopts a local version of Amendment 4, requiring a referendum for all changes to the local comprehensive plan. Amendment 4 supporters promise that they just want to give “the people a right to vote.”
  • June, 2008: St. Pete Beach voters approve a new comprehensive plan at the ballot box.
  • June, 2008: After losing the election, Amendment 4 supporters in St. Pete Beach file a string of legal challenges to invalidate the will of the people.
  • September, 2008: Numerous administrative challenges are subsequently filed by Amendment 4 co-author and co-founder Ross Burnaman.
  • June, 2009: The St. Petersburg Times reports that St. Pete Beach has exhausted its legal budget months before the end of the fiscal year.[ii]
  • September, 2009: Amidst rising legal bills, St. Pete Beach raises taxes.[iii]
  • October, 2009: Court-ordered mediation collapses when Amendment 4 supporters refuse to join the City and the business community in supporting a compromise.[iv]

St. Pete Beach is proof positive that Amendment 4 is not designed to give the people a say on growth. It is designed to give anti-growth lawyers another legal avenue to stop commonsense progress, even when voters approve it. In St. Pete Beach, the taxpayers’ legal bills continue to mount. Unfortunately, there is no end in sight.

Floridians for Smarter Growth leads opposition to Amendment 4. To date, more than 170 organizations throughout Florida have opposed Amendment 4. More join the fight every day.

[i] St. Petersburg Times on September 22, 2009 (“St. Pete Beach tax rates goes up, but will it be felt?”): http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/st-pete-beach-tax-rate-goes-up-but-will-it-be-felt /1038346
[ii] St. Petersburg Times on June 1, 2009 (“St. Pete Beach’s legal costs bust budget”)
[iii] St. Petersburg Times on September 22, 2009 (“St. Pete Beach tax rates goes up, but will it be felt?”): http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/st-pete-beach-tax-rate-goes-up-but-will-it-be-felt/1038346
[iv] St. Petersburg Times on November 4, 2009 (“Mediator declares impasse in talks to end St Pete Beach development lawsuits”): http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/mediator-declares-impasse-in-talks-to-end-st-pete-beach-development/1049083


For more information go to: http://Florida2010.org


Paid political advertisement – paid for and sponsored by Floridians for Smarter Growth, Inc., PO Box 532018 Orlando FL 32853.