Greenrenter – go green or go home…

As “green” buildings start to come of age, new online service provides a means to easily identify and compare environmentally friendly homes.

Who: Greenrenter, based in Portland, OR was co-founded by Lev Tsypin, an internet consultant. The other team members are; Marti Frank, who has been working in the green building industry since 2000 and is a self described compulsive light turner offer…, Pam Pickens, a communications professional who specializes in behavior change model Community-Based Social Marketing, Robert Neild, a marine engineer who loves good design and engineering.

What: An online listing service for green buildings – both residential and commercial. Currently, Greenrenter only lists buildings in the Portland region, but has plans to expand in the near future.

More: In its own words, GreenRenter is very inclusive when it comes to “greenness.” They aim to showcase the efforts of all owners who are trying to improve the sustainability of their properties, regardless of whether they’ve sought out certification or awards.

As long as the building includes at least one feature in any of seven “green” areas (energy, water, building materials, operations, building surroundings, certifications and awards, other innovative green features) it can be listed with GreenRenter. The buildings are not currently rated according to a set of standards, but according to the company’s website, this is in the works. We think it would be pretty neat to be able to compare possible apartment choices across a range of relevant indicators…

Greenrenter is a triple-bottom-line company and considers social and environmental factors to be important alongside profitability and sustainability of the company. We think this business, although in its early stages is a great example of social entrepreneurship – they are catering to a very real and growing market niche, which at the same time laying foundations for a profitable business and playing a key role in promoting environmentally sound building and living practices.

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New York City company says: exchange dinner plate for a leaf…

the Verterra formula:

dead leaves + steam + pressure = plate!

Verterra, a new NYC based company is turning fallen leaves into dinnerware. Instead of using paper or plastic, which needs to be recycled, Verterra is serving up a menu of compostable dinne6\rware.

Who: Michael Dwork, a Columbia student at the time was in India for a summer internship. He came across a woman pressing leaves which had been soaked in water into a shape which to him, looked like a plate. On further investigation, he realized that she was making plates and serving the food she had prepared at her roadside stall on these fresh plates. It was at that moment that Verterra was birthed.

What: Chemical-free, Non-toxic, Biodegradable, Sustainable, Renewable, Microwave-oven and refrigerator-safe, Reusable, Compostable. This is how Michael’s website describes the product – a pretty good summary, we think!

More: The dinnerware is produced in Southeast Asia, by Verterra’s own employees (read – not outsourced to sweatshop) who are provided access to health care, receive fair wages and safe working conditions. The website describes the product manufacture as follows:

“From start to finish, the impact we make on the earth is our top priority. We start by collecting fallen leaves from plantations without cutting down any trees. Normally, these leaves would be burned on the side of the road. Instead, they are brought to our factory, sprayed with high pressure water, steamed and UV sterilized. We recapture over 80% of the water we use. No chemicals, lacquers, glues, bonding agents or anything toxic are ever used. The entire process uses only a fraction of the energy used in recycling.”

The dinnerware, which is reusable, can be used in the microwave and regular oven (up to 350’f) and does not make the food taste funny at all.

Verterra is another superb example of social entrepreneurship: They are bringing to market a very desirable product, while at the same time reducing waste, energy use during recycling and providing fair paying jobs for many people in poorer parts of the world.
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Worm Poop Soda – plants drink it up!


While not entirely a soda, plants across the US are loving Terracycle for their range of plant foods made entirely from organic waste, composted by earthworms and packaged in used soda bottles.


Who: Terracycle, based in Trenton, NJ was started in 2001 when Tom Szaky and Jon Beyer, Princeton students at the time set out on their dream to change the way business operates.


What: The plant food they sell comes in a variety of flavors, including those suited to the tastes of roses, herbs, regular lawn, orchids and an array of others. The one thing they have in common is the worm poop base and reused soda bottles as packaging. They also sell other useful products, including planters, made entirely of recycled plastics and hand-painted by inner city artists. Regardless of the novel idea and eco-friendly appeal, reviews we have seen indicate that this product really works fantastically.


More: The process by which these earthworms (the most common species used are: “Red Wigglers” and “Red Earthworms”) make the compost is known as vermicomposting. The worms’ digestive systems convert the waste which they eat into nutrient rich food for plants. This natural form of compost and plants foods is said to be friendlier on the environment than chemically produced fertilizers, which consumes a fair amount of natural resources in its production (natural gas, potassium and phosphorus).


The Terracycle team is a great example of social entrepreneurship – they are supplying the market with plant food which works really well, while at the same time employing people in Trenton, supporting local artists to paint the flower pots, preventing plastic bottles from going to waste, recycling organic waste which would otherwise end up in a landfill, and they are generating money for their owners.

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