Good to be Green

green clover leafAlong with many other organizations, Firelight has joined the environmental movement, to be more green and sustainable. Although we’ve always operated in a sustainable manner, we thought this St. Patrick’s Day was just the time to go public with our commitment to green operations. We now hold paperless meetings and utilize an electronic filing system. Additionally, we are developing a paperless grants management system and an electronic board book that will further reduce our use of paper.

After passing a review and multiple audits by the Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program, Firelight had completed the yearlong and cost-free process of becoming a Certified Green Business. Our entire office learned how to contribute to Pollution Prevention, Energy and Water Conservation, and Solid Waste Management, and passed four audits with flying colors! Thanks to this certification we are now, as the Monterey Bay Green Business puts it, “part of a concerned public that works together to recognize and assist businesses that operate in an environmentally friendly manner.” Four audits and a year to become certified may sound like a long process, but as we reflect on what we learned and the cultural shifts it prompted, we know it’s worth it.

As a funder to grassroots organizations in sub-Saharan Africa, we are aware that our consumption of resources has a pronounced impact on this area of the world, as Africa is projected to experience the worst effects of climate change. According to The Select Committee on Energy and Global Warming, “Africa is arguably the most vulnerable continent to the impacts of global warming, despite being the least responsible for the pollution causing it. By the year 2080, East Africa’s temperature is predicted to rise 5.4 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit, one and a half times more than the projected average for the rest of the world. Droughts, flooding, famine, species extinction, and conflicts are all made worse by global warming in East Africa.” As our grantee partners address the impact of climate change in their communities, such as droughts that cause food prices to increase, we support their collective actions and modify our own.

I am reminded of the comments from Wangari Maathai of Kenya who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace. She said, “It is evident that many wars are fought over resources which are now becoming increasingly scarce. If we conserved our resources better, fighting over them would not then occur. Those of us who understand the complex concept of the environment have the burden to act. We must not tire, we must not give up, we must persist.”

As Firelight works to serve the families and communities affected by poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, we are doing our best in our daily work to reduce our carbon and energy footprint. Day by day we have a choice to make, and we’re aiming to support our global community and our planet.