Green has been the new black for years, and here in Kern County, we have entrepreneurs who are setting trends in how residents and businesses can greatly reduce their carbon footprint.
Though it really took off in 2010, Founder and Executive Director Sasha Windes detailed that the nonprofit began a little bit prior to that, and it was due to a very personal need.
“I’ve lived in Bakersfield my whole life, and I love the community and the people here,” she began. “My daughter was having health problems and I felt that going green in my own personal life would help her to feel better.” She was right, and by changing the products she used in her home, her daughter’s health improved. People started to ask her how she did it, and a natural desire to help people achieve what she had grew within her.
“I wanted to help people and businesses get educated so they, too, would know how to live better,” Windes said. “When I first started out, we hardly even had any green products in town. It wasn’t because people didn’t care—they just weren’t sure how to go about things.” To date, she has helped a number of companies and organizations in town reduce their carbon footprint considerably. By partnering with companies like Aera, Chevron, FedEx, CSUB, and BARC, Windes was able to get the ball rolling. Since then, she has helped to make many businesses here in town certifiably green (meaning they have taken appropriate steps in greatly reducing their environmental impact by adopting green practices)—and she has people calling from San Diego to the East Coast asking her how she formulated her model so they could follow suit!
Danny Murdock, senior manager for FedEx Ground in Bakersfield, has worked with Kern Green on a voluntary basis for five years, and he first made the connection for personal reasons. “I was doing a lot of community work, and I was at a community function when I ran into Sasha,” he started. “She told me what she was all about, and I wanted to incorporate the program for sustainable efforts into my business practices.”
He met with Windes a few weeks after and one thing led to another. Eventually, they started to exchange ideas about how to help businesses and residents of our community. “We kept coming up with more ideas and opportunities to get people to go the sustainable route.” Murdock put these ideas into motion and he now works side-by-side with local businesses who are embarking on the same green journey he is on.
“I basically promote the sustainable effort,” he stated. “I serve as an example for some of the processes that can be put into place, and I help other companies who are starting out to brainstorm to get around obstacles.” Outside of these important efforts, Murdock is always around for volunteer events and he encourages others to get on deck. “This is a great organization, and whether you are an individual or a business, it will open your eyes to what is available to you in the realm of sustainability.”
Program Manager Stephanie Nava started out as a volunteer for Kern Green in 2013 while she studied at CSUB. “I found the organization via website and I was amazed by all the programs they had in the community,” Nava recalled. “As a business student (at that time) I was really intrigued with all the businesses that had taken part to green up their operations and the methods they took to become green certified.”
These days, Nava is responsible mostly for community outreach and education throughout Kern County. “You can pretty much find me at any Kern Green event,” she confirmed. Whether it is helping behind the scenes at their awards banquet or other events in the community, Nava plays a pivotal role. She also informed that the community can play a role of their own by supporting events like their Earth Day celebration. “Kern Green helps individuals find valuable information about their health, safety, and for saving money, that they wouldn’t know about or have easy access to,” she concluded. “The businesses that have been certified through Kern Green have the biggest impact on our community because of the practices at work are then taken home by employees and shared with their families.”
If you are interested in the many things that Kern Green has to offer or would like to find out how you can get involved, visit their website at www.kerngreen.org.