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Kirsten Rose, One Green Step

Kirsten RoaeKirsten founded One Green Step, a sustainability consulting firm, in 2009 by bringing together her passion for climate, carbon and sustainability issues with an extensive background in marketing, strategy consulting and business development.

After hearing about One Green Step a close friend pronounced her a ‘Lipstick Hippy’ – a term she realised wasn’t a bad description.“By calling me a lipstick hippy, she meant that although I’m passionate about all things green and sustainable, I’m not an extremist. I try to live my life with as little environmental impact as possible, but I’m far from perfect. And I make choices that some people believe disqualify me for true “green” status – such as eating meat, wearing leather, running my air conditioner and tumble dryer occasionally, and so on. And lest I forget to mention it, I’m plenty into makeup (hence the “lipstick” part).

But as I thought about it, the reason I like the moniker is because I’m not very happy with the alternatives. What am I? A “greenie?” A “sustainability nut?” An “environmentalist?” A “mung bean?”

As Kermit Says, It Ain’t Easy Being Green

My car (a fuel-efficient Ford Econetic) has the One Green Step logo, phone number and web address all over it. A marketing-savvy dad at school has told me he thinks it looks great but believes it falls short because it doesn’t say what I do on the car. He’s right of course. The only reason it doesn’t say what I do is because I haven’t settled on a description I like well enough to plaster all over my vehicle.

I’m definitely an environmentalist, and probably have been since I first saw Iron Eyes Cody’s tear roll down his face in the Keep America Beautiful ads in the 1970s. But my concern goes beyond environmental issues to include social and economic ones as well.Am I green? Yes, and I’m proud when people refer to me as a “greenie.” But the term “green” has become loaded too. It’s applied to seemingly everything these days – washing powders, electricity, nappies, buildings, marketing, political parties … the list goes on. And as a result, it is losing some of the power it once had. Terms like “greenwash” and “green fatigue” are now just as commonplace.

What about the word “ sustainability?” I usually describe myself as a sustainability consultant, but I do agree it’s awkward and a bit of a buzzword. And, as many have pointed out, no one is quite sure how to define it. Conventional wisdom suggests the original definition was put forth in the Brundtland Commission’s 1987 report to the United Nations, Our Common Future. The report says: Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. That definition certainly rings true, but I don’t think calling someone a “sustainabilist” works.

Golden Ruler?

Joel Makower, the American writer who has been called the “guru of green business practices,” has a definition I like. He describes sustainability as “an intergenerational golden rule.” (The “golden rule” in this instance is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This specific quote is commonly is attributed to Matthew 7:12, but it’s a safe bet that the concept has been around since before Christianity.) The idea that what I’m working toward is building a world that will be cleaner, better, and safer for my children and their children really resonates with me. It’s also a big enough concept to encompass all my areas of concern. But if I start describing myself (or my business) as a “golden ruler,” I’m going to spend too much time explaining it.

So What Am I?

For now I’m happy enough with any of the above labels, but I think there’s an opportunity for someone more creative than I to craft the perfect term. Most of my clients start nodding vigorously when I explain why I named my business One Green Step – the goal is to help people with the journey at their own pace, focusing on what’s most important to them, within their budget, one green step at a time. Possibly there’s something in that. ”

In addition to her work with One Green Step, Kirsten leads business development for Carbon Neutral, a leading Australian carbon consulting and carbon offset provider. Kirsten She has over 20 years’ commercial experience in Australia, the US and the UK and is a Certified Home Sustainability Assessor.