Enviropreneurs get the job done

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

The intersection of environmentalism and entrepreneurship is a popular place these days. Many people are flocking from the business community, some are from environmental organizations, and a few come from the halls of academia. What they have all realized is that “commerce is the engine of change.”

At PERC we have a special hybrid: the enviropreneur—born with green DNA but equipped with the tools of property rights, markets, and contracts. Enviropreneurs thrive in the marketplace by providing goods and services to customers for profit while improving the environment at the same time. “They see unwritten contracts where others see unwritten regulations. They see new frontiers for free market environmentalism where others see only market failures,” writes PERC’s Enviropreneur ™ Institute co-director REED WATSON.

Spend time with KENT CARTER, for example, “and you see a savvy new breed of capitalist, one who is planning to make green by going green,” in the words of JAMES WORKMAN. Read how Carter is creating a previously nonexistent market
by forming habitat credits, trading them for cash, and then reinvesting in replenishing ecologically degraded landscapes.

Going below the surface, BRETT HOWELL is developing a market for coral reef restoration off Florida’s coast. Don’t miss Watson’s article to see how Howell hopes to link the buyers and sellers of coral restoration and how you might adopt a piece of transplanted coral.

If coral is not your thing, perhaps you would like to purchase a pen to help restore ancient forests? DAVE WAGER created Tree Ring Pens to share a unique resource through a commonly used object. The pens are crafted from dated tree ring cores and come from forest restoration projects in Montana—specifically projects that aim to bring back old-growth forests.

FLETCHER HARPER and STACEY KENNEALY, two Enviropreneur™ Institute graduates, are taking a path less traveled by mixing free markets with faithbased organizations for the environment. The overarching concept shaping GreenFaith’s work has been the idea of getting the incentives right, writes PAUL SCHWENNESEN. “People think that in the religious sector, belief and good intentions are what fuel people’s behavior,” said Harper. “Our experience is that beliefs and intentions alone fail to get the job done.”

Yes, this sounds suspiciously businesslike but, as Harper and others remind us, if you really want to get a job done then you must appeal to peoples’ interests. This sixth annual enviropreneur issue features people who are getting the job done. After having nearly 200 enviropreneurs pass through PERC, we have seen that free market environmentalism is working on the ground, underwater, and in the air.

Huggins is a research fellow and former director of outreach with PERC as well as a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Her association with PERC goes back several years, although she has recently embarked on a new venture as the manager of economic initiatives for the American Prairie Reserve. Huggins coauthored...
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