Rob Holmes, in town for the Outdoor Retailer summer market, is founder of the Green Living Project (GreenLivingProject.com), an organization promoting sustainability projects in Africa and South America.
What does the Green Living Project do?
We educate people on the issue of sustainability. To do so, we have documented projects like wildlife conservation, community development, women’s empowerment, health and education and renewable energy in Africa and, just recently, South America. We’ve all heard the gloom and doom of climate change, and I think this is saying that there are some positive things going on out in the world.
So, what’s going on out in the world?
Brazil was hiring old miners to cut down trees in the Amazon, but one project helped them switch to become tourist guides instead. In Ecuador, one project hired local fisherman who no longer fish to do shark research. Now, they teach the fishing industry how to net properly, how to anchor without doing harm, and more. They go from one side of the equation to the other.
Are you optimistic about America’s current direction on environmental issues and sustainability?
The change in government has been the best thing for the U.S. It definitely brings in optimism and change. But, also, it’s obvious to the business sector now that you can save a lot of money by being green and sustainable. It’s now very well-known and established that companies can save money by being energy-efficient. They have the opportunity to make money, let alone support these causes, by making their products. So, yes, I’m very optimistic.
What are your thoughts about Africa?
It was amazing to experience the wildlife. Seeing rhinos up close in a sanctuary in Uganda, gorillas in Rwanda, and cheetahs in Namibia really helps you see the importance of wildlife conservation. Species are becoming extinct, and as you lose these species, ecosystems change, and you’ll never be able to get that back. It was also important to learn that locals in places like Africa and South America only cut down the trees to support the purchasing habits of the West. They know why the forest is being cut down—making products for our country. The real action is not by them; it’s stuff we need to change.
What would I be inspired to do after I see your presentation?
Change your purchasing habits, buy recyclable paper, buy things for the house that are more energy-efficient. That’s what I love about it—it puts the power in the people. No one is forcing you to do it, you’re doing it because you want to.