I have been working this summer with an environmental startup company called ERIC, short for the Environmental Research and Innovation Center. ERIC’s mission is to use capitalism and the spending economy to makes us more sustainable and environmentally conscious. Basically, we are trying to bring sustainable producers and green consumers together to make eco-conscious lifestyles easier.We currently have three projects to do this. The first is a Wiki, or a comprehensive database and information site, where business’s sustainability and company info are stored, so that anyone can easily see what it is they are doing. Through a comprehensive sustainability assessment and an algorithm that is in its development stages, we are assigning a numerical score from 1 to 95 to each business (omitting the last 5 to symbolically show we will always have more work to do) that represents its level of sustainability. The second project is a consumer-friendly map (first in Boston, but hopefully later in other cities) of every sustainably committed business. On this map, you can see your location, specify categories, and see the sustainability scores and locations of every business that might be what you are looking for.The third project, which I am spending the majority of my time on, is the ERIC online store: a place to buy local, eco-friendly goods from a variety of diverse companies. In keeping with our mission to bridge the gap between customer and producer, we are trying to create a virtual farmer’s market where the customer can browse a range of products, not only food related, and read about company stories and sustainable practices. My job has been to reach out to businesses and get them onboard. It’s my personal goal to have the store up and running by the end of the summer, with a good selection of local Massachusetts goods.Already I have experienced a new flavor to Boston. In conversations with local businesses like Fig + Kindle candy, Green Koala candles, and Taza chocolate, I’ve sensed that there is a real pride in creating a small independent business with a meaningful product. Whether it was through a visit to the zero-waste event and catering company Chive, or a night at an organic wine tasting and networking event, it has been very gratifying to witness widespread commitment to local and sustainable business.
If you would like to know more about what we are doing, you can visit our website, http://www.joinERIC.org, read the blog (my post is here: http://joineric.org/node/46), and give me feedback! You can follow ERIC on Twitter for updates @join_ERIC, or send me comments @gentsao . Thanks!