When people hear the term “green” they often think of it as interchangeable with “expensive.” Of course, this is not a general rule: an environmentally sustainable lifestyle can actually save you a lot of money. Still, the stigma exists.
When it comes to politics, this link between green and luxury has put off many Americans who worry that promoting environmental sustainability may hurt the US economy or their own already stretched budgets. This can be seen as a major reason the political coalition fighting for environmental causes has long been small and exclusive.
A group of progressive thinkers began to recognize that this political isolation was keeping advocates for an environmentally sustainable society from accomplishing their goals in the US. Van Jones has become one of the many dynamic leaders who have reinvented the environmental movement through his call for a more inclusive vision of what a sustainable society looks like.
Since getting his law degree from Yale in 1993 Jones has built a reputation as one of the most well-respected advocates of social equality in the country. Now, through his work with Green For All and his best selling book, The Green Collar Economy, he’s working towards an interrelated solution to both poverty and environmental degradation in the US.
Green For All advocates job training for the low- and medium-skilled workers who will be the backbone on which we build a sustainable society. Millions of new jobs are likely to be created over the next few years as we rebuild our national infrastructure with environmental sustainability in mind.
Many of these jobs will require new skills, but many will not require a four year college degree. Therefore, they represent an opportunity for low-income Americans to build skills and create wealth, as well as for some of the communities most adversely affected by pollution to become part of the solution.
Many of the jobs created will be difficult or impossible to outsource, offering reasonable wages and career growth opportunities. As we begin to move away from consumerism–consumption led growth–this training will be essential to building competitive green industries.