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Interview with Rosamaria Caballero- Co-Founder of Green Irene
Green Irene is a business my husband, PJ, and I designed to educate and help people on the path to being green. Our local Eco-Consultants work with individua ls and business in person to identify and implement changes to lead families and businesses to a healthier, safer and more sustainable lifestyle and while saving them money by implementing ways to reduce the use of energy, water and other resources. We eliminate the guesswork in making changes without making major sacrifices. Our f lagship services include Green Home Makeovers and Green Office Makeovers.
A few years ago, we decided it was time to adopt some green practices in our own home so we started doing research. We learned quickly there was so much information out there that it took time to find it and filter it all. Most people want to do the right thing when it comes to living more sustainably, but most don’t want to make a hobby out of it. I realized that I would gladly have paid someone to come into my home, help me sort through the information, show me what to do and how to do it. We saw the need and found a way to help others.
I'll start with a Kenyan proverb: "Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children”. We certainly believe this and are doing our small part each day. We wanted to teach our daughters how to live more sustainably. As we started adopting green practices, we also came to that many people don’t yet realize that you can actually save money by going green. We hope to magnify our efforts through the work of our growing network of Eco-Consultants helping clients who in turn show others ways they are living a more sustainable life.
PJ and I are entrepreneurs and after selling our last business, we realized that we wanted to create a business that is about improving the world we live in, not about satisfying a fad or trend. The "lightbulb" went off when we realized how difficult it could be to do something as simple as swap out the bulbs in our apartment to compact fluorescent light bulbs. After all the visits to the local hardware store and the buzzing and flickering results, we realized we would have gladly paid a green expert to come in and tell us what to do and how to do it! And then after many months of research and planning, we founded Green Irene in late 2007.
We started Green Irene because we saw there was a gap between the huge amount of information available about greening one’s home and yet few people seemed to be making a concerted effort to implement green practices in part because it almost needs to be a hobby to do all the research to identify good products. Even though they want to go green, most people don’t have enough time to make “going green” another time-consuming hobby.
We also started it because we love helping people start their own small business and be a force for green change in their community. Our Eco-Consultants not only earn money through consulting and product sales, but they also can be the person pushing for the new school to have green, toxic-free and energy-saving features built in, or the person at the City Council meeting making a case to tax plastic bags so people finally carry reusable bags to the store. This has the potential to be more than helping someone make a part-time, professional income.
Our family lives in a Manhattan apartment so by definition we started more green in that we live in smaller spaces and don’t need to drive very much or very far. We try to implement green practices when possible. We use public transportation and walk most places. We recycle and use reusable bags. To reduce food waste, we use an electric composter, which is perfect to store in a smaller apartment’s kitchen. We have also switched our household batteries found in remotes, toys and other electric devices to rechargeable batteries. Even though we don’t pay for water directly, we still watch our water usage and have low flow showerheads in place. We watch our A/C and heat settings and turn off all those power phantoms.
Going green is a process, a journey. It’s a grassroots, community effort. The world will go farther in terms of going green if we can get many people to make a few changes rather a few people making many changes. It also tends to snowball, so once people get started, they realize how easy it can be and then ask “what else can I do”.
We want to have a brand and image with a personality and a voice. We wanted to develop a character that would be approachable, friendly and non-preachy. Green Irene is your local green friend (although our Eco-Consultants are both men and women). Plus it would be nice if it rhymed with green and was an available domain name…
As of July 2009, Green Irene has more than 400 Eco-Consultants across the United States in 45 states.
Our current focus is the U.S. since there is so much work yet to be done here. Eventually we’d like to partner with local entrepreneurs in other countries who would like to localize Green Irene for their individual countries or regions.
We currently have 3 Eco-Consultants in Indiana. If you are interested in having a Green Home Makeover, Green Office Makeover, GO GREEN Workshop or Green Fundraiser, you can easily find your local Eco-Consultant through our zip code locator by going to www.GreenIrene.com/find-a-consultant.aspx.
For people interested in becoming a Green Irene Eco-Consultant, they can watch a brief video presentation and read more about the opportunity by visiting www.BeAGreenIrene.com. This website provides detailed information about the benefits, training, services, products and how to get started. If you have any other questions not answered, you can complete the “Contact Us” form or call me 888-212-GREEN ext 6. I will answer any questions you might have by email or phone. If you are ready to get started, you can find the “Enroll Online Now” button at the website and start the process.
A GO GREEN Workshop is a green gathering in your home for your friends and neighbors. It's a great way to get together with people you like, and a perfect opportunity for your local Eco-Consultant to show you, your friends and neighbors how to go green and save money.
Your local Green Irene Eco-Consultant will share tips in a 20- to 30-minute presentation on how to save money, conserve energy and water, and create healthier, more sustainable homes.
Some ideas are easy to implement at no cost, while others involve products for sale that can pay off with big savings down the road. Unlike other direct sales parties many people have attended, there is no pressure to buy products, though many people do find something to help them save money and green their life.
Hosts will also receive a free mini-Home Makeover before the event, a variety of product gifts and discounts, and a free 3-month membership to Ask Green Irene.
GO GREEN Workshops are not limited to just the home. Many businesses and organizations have hosted workshops during an office lunch seminar for employees, Homeowner’s Association Meetings or PTA meetings.
Our current green home and office products we offer are not Green Irene-branded, but Green Irene-recommended products. We found that although some of the solutions we recommend can be simple, the issue becomes implementation. We want to help our clients take the guesswork out of the implementation process as well, so we identify what we believe are some of the best products in each category.
When we initially identify products, we research the product, seek out reviews, editorials and commentaries, and then we talk to the manufacturer and get clear answers to questions about specifications and ingredients to ensure that the products will meet our Eco-Consultants' and our customers' critical green eye. On many products such as the CFLs, low-flow showerheads and toxic-free cleaners, we try and use the products ourselves to make sure that we believe in and can honestly recommend the products. We rarely offer more than one product in each category. We offer two low flow shower heads because the aerating and laminar technologies have such different feels to achieve a full shower feeling with just 1.59 gallons per minute (versus a normal 3 GPM or more shower). We feel people have enough choices to make and don’t need the stress of 10 choices across 30 or more categories of products.