We were recently invited to a guided tour of the Clif Bar headquarters in Emeryville. A LEED Platinum Certified Green Building, the facility is a working tribute to the principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle.
An array of solar panels on the roof supply the electricity, and re-purposed denim jeans provide soundproofing for the interior. The space is well-lit and wide open, creating a sense of peaceful industry and creativity. “What a great place to work,” I thought to myself.
A peek behind the curtain at Clif Bar is a reminder that green entrepreneurship is thriving, especially here in the Golden State. Clif Bar is included in Steve Shaw’s article about green companies on page 8, and beer editor Derrick Peterman writes about innovative green breweries on page 11. The companies mentioned in both articles have helped make California a global leader in sustainable business, and we are proud to feature them in this issue.
Considering the growing popularity of all things green, one could argue that the future of sustainable business is bright. In fact, it was hard to narrow our list down to just ten; there are many, many companies doing inspiring work out there. Forty-three years after the inaugural Earth Day celebration, the effects of this cultural shift are everywhere.
Not that it’s time to start patting ourselves on the back. While businesses like Clif Bar, Patagonia, Klean Kanteen and Sierra Nevada serve as proof that green companies can succeed in a competitive market, one only has to look as far as North Dakota to see how far from green we are. The expensive (and highly toxic) oil extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is clear evidence that America has a self-destructive relationship with oil. Why else would we purposely pollute our soil and put our precious groundwater at risk?
Of course the oil and gas industry denies that fracking pollutes groundwater, but this claim rings hollow if you consider that fracking was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005. What are they trying to hide?
While the Obama administration would argue that fracking helps us achieve “energy independence,” the most likely result will be a legacy of environmental Superfund sites left for our children and grandchildren to clean up.
If the price of gasoline reflected the true environmental and social cost of our addiction to oil, then driving would be much, much more expensive, and the amount of cars on the road would be cut in half overnight.
Yes, that’s a pretty unrealistic scenario, but I think we can all agree that fracking is a short-sighted solution to a much larger lifestyle problem. If national policy is heading in the direction of large-scale domestic oil extraction, then maybe the only answer is to opt-out of the madness one person at a time by driving our cars less and riding our bikes more.
In this regard, ASJ bike editor Rick Gunn’s article on the history of Downieville is a great way to get inspired. A Short History of MTB Gold is about Downieville’s transition from a busted gold rush town to a unique community built around mountain biking.
Also, surf editor Neil Pearlberg provides readers with a look at Santa Barbara resident and South African surf icon Shaun Tomson. Touring the state on the heels of the recent release of his new book The Code, Tomson is all about bringing the values he learned as a surfer to everyday life.
If Pearlberg’s article on Tomson piques your interest, I highly recommend the documentary Bustin’ Down the Door, available on Netflix. Tomson’s formative years in Hawaii are the subject of the movie, and the gorgeous footage and high drama that unfolds is riveting.
Matt Johanson takes us on a serious climbing adventure through the eyes of a big wall novice, Leonie Sherman ascends the remote and unforgettable Mt. Carl Heller, and Haven Livingston discusses paddling access in national parks.
If nothing else, I hope ASJ # 74 inspires you to go outside and play. That’s a form of environmentalism we can all embrace.
Thanks for reading!
— Matt Niswonger