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5 Surprising Green Jobs

Photo: U.S. Army bus trip in Tunisia

Travel and event planners can go green by making sustainable choices, whether they work for the U.S. Army (pictured) or private organizations. Photo: U.S. Army Africa, Flickr

 

At Growing Green Jobs, we recently looked at some of the hottest eco-friendly positions. Now, we take a look at some surprising green jobs that might not immediately come to mind, but can also help you do well by doing good.

Green Financial Planners

Financial professionals are often associated with a different type of green job—one focused on the almighty dollar. But green ventures of all types, whether wind farms, LEED buildings, or organic farms, need financial backing to succeed.

Financial planners with a green hue can help concerned citizens invest their money in companies that share their own vision of a sustainable future—and work hard to achieve it. And supporting green causes need not put one’s own finances in the red. With many green technologies and services experiencing a surge, a good green financial planner can also help his or her clients to many happy returns.

“Blue” Fisheries

Industrial fisheries have taken a devastating toll on marine species around the globe, reducing populations of many ocean fish to mere fractions of their preindustrial levels. But 3 billion people still depend on the oceans as their primary source of protein. Sustainable fisheries are essential for the future health of both the ocean and the humans who depend on it. They’re also key to the economic well-being of those who depend on the ocean.

“Blue Economy” fishermen adhere to sustainable catch guidelines based on sound science, use responsible gear like low-impact lines rather than bottom-gouging trawlers, reduce bycatch of non-targeted species, market their product locally, and avoid using toxic materials. In an era when aquaculture contributes about half of the world’s seafood, many opportunities also exist for green fish farmers who can sustainably raise farmed species while minimizing environmental impacts like water pollution or the unsustainable consumption of fish-based pellet food.

Greener Steelworkers

The steel industry, a longtime pillar of America’s manufacturing might, is an energy-intensive business that predates the concept of green jobs. But United Steelworkers, one of the nation’s labor union giants, is a founding member of the BlueGreen Alliance and a backer of green employment.

Why? Because solar and wind manufacturing facilities, and other green initiatives, provide work for steelworkers who are creating the infrastructure of a new renewable energy system.

A typical wind turbine contains some 250 tons of steel. And steelworkers also manufacture many other products that can be put to green end uses, including the glass used in solar panels and energy-efficient light bulbs.

Green Event Planners

People are social animals and organizing the venues where they get together for weddings, fairs, meetings and conferences, or promotional events, is a multibillion dollar business. But events also leave large environmental footprints—and that’s where green planners come in.

Green planers begin work well before any event’s launch and attempt to make it as sustainable as possible. Planners might promote with recycled materials, provide convenient and fuel-efficient transportation, choose LEED-certified event venues, work with food providers to ensure sustainable offerings in appropriate amounts to reduce waste, use reusable place settings and decorations where possible, and recycle efficiently elsewhere.

This green job is definitely not your average 9 to 5, but offers the opportunity to make a visible difference by stylishly promoting green products and practices.

Green Travel Professionals

Even the most committed champions of a green lifestyle need the occasional vacation—and it seems that demand for sustainable travel alternatives is a growth industry among holidaymakers and business travelers as well.

An April 2012 survey by TripAdvisor, one of the world’s largest travel sites, shows soaring interest in eco-friendly travel. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they planned to make eco-friendly travel choices over the next year and 57 percent said they “often” do so today when picking hotels, transportation, or food sources during travel. Half of those surveyed said they’d pay more money to stay at an eco-friendly accommodation and three-fourths said they were committed to such choices regardless of the economic landscape.

All these figures suggest a rosy outlook for green travel planners, tour guides, and others who can tailor trips to their clients’ needs, whether an all-inclusive eco-wilderness lodge or one of Manhattan’s most environmentally friendly high-rise hotels.

 

Brian Handwerk is a freelance writer based in Amherst, New Hampshire.