Go Green With 5 Easy-To-Do Earth Day Tips From Christopher Bently

christopher bently
Christopher Bently

Photo Credit: Sequoia Emmanuelle

As we celebrate Earth Day, we’ve asked San Francisco’s finest eco-conscious entrepreneur, Christopher Bently, who is featured in Haute Living‘s March/April “green” issue, to share five easy-to-do Earth Day tips for going green. Bently is CEO of Bently Enterprises, whose portfolio includes the LEED-certified architectural showplace Bently Union at 240 Stockton, the Bently Reserve, formerly the Federal Reserve Bank, Bently Nob Hill,  Bently Ranch, which has sustainable crops and cattle and composts, and Bently Heritage, an estate distillery that will produce farm-to-flask spirits crafted exclusively from local ingredients grown on Bently Ranch.

While we can’t all be like Bently, we can all do a small part for the sake of the environment. Here’s what’s Bently suggests:

1. The [way] you can make the biggest impact individually simply is transportation. Walk, bicycle or use public transportation; if you can get an environmentally-friendly car, that makes a big impact right there.

2. Get a reusable coffee container rather than throwing away the cardboard cups every time you go to Starbucks. Just rinse and fill this every time.

3. [If you must have a paper coffee cup] try and build up your hands so you don’t need that extra little sleeve [around it]. The statistics are pretty horrifying on how much of that goes into the landfill… This is another misnomer: people think just because they recycle [that] they’re being green. Recycling is a highly-toxic process. A lot of chemicals [are] involved, so the more you can keep out of being recycled or wasted the better. Reusing is the best. We used to have milk bottles delivered on our doorstep. That was the best. I don’t know why they ever changed from that.

4. Cut out using bottled water. If you want fresh water with you for the day, which is a fantastic idea, just filter it at home, put it in your reusable container and carry it around with you.

5. Be conscious about the products you buy. Just like people are very conscious about what’s in their food, be conscious about what’s in your products—what’s in soaps or beauty products. A lot of those things have very toxic chemicals and [in] the packaging as well. One of the nice things I like about Apple [is] not only the elegant packaging and design, but it’s also much less waste. Apple is not the only one, there’s more and more companies doing this. They don’t have the huge plastic wrap that you cut yourself on trying to get off. It’s terrible! Who thinks of that? It’s dangerous.

The other thing that’s fun is Cradle to Cradle [Products Innovation Institute]. It’s not recycling; it’s upcycling. Every time you recycle something it gets downgraded in a life. If something is a plastic bottle, it becomes a rubber band, then it’s becomes a plastic bag and then it goes to waste. It can never be a plastic bottle twice because the quality degrades so much. The same is true with paper products. But there are certain products that are now being designed that they can repeat their life—and they can even upcycle and become something more valuable and more important. Those products are not only designed to do break down chemically, but they also require a much less toxic chemicals to do so. It’s more of an organic process. It’s brilliant, and they’re now starting to certify building products, consumer products, everything. There’s no reason why everything can’t be designed this way; we have the technology.

That’s more of an industry thing. My message is just being an aware consumer and pay attention to what you’re buying. Your vote is your pocketbook. I know that sounds cliché but it’s true. If you support companies doing the right thing then more companies will do the right thing.