How You Can Use Business Strategies to Save Our Planet

Editor's note: This story is part of PolicyMic's Millennials Take On Climate Change series this week.

Money is the language of politicians and businessmen, and, it seems in this new age of Big College, the language of educators as well. As a member of the UGA Beyond Coal Campaign, I’ve witnessed a group of passionate student activists harness the power of grassroots organizing firsthand, in the form of over 5,000 student petition signatures and 100 faculty endorsements calling for the University of Georgia to replace its coal-fired boiler with cleaner alternatives. 

The only problem? University administrators can’t monetize petition signatures.

Since 2011, I’ve worked both with the campaign and through the Student Government Association and the UGA Office of Sustainability to progress my university's movement towards cleaner energy. Today, I sit on a university committee tasked with replacing the coal boiler with cleaner, cheaper sources of energy, a task that no one takes that for granted. Our campaign has been successful so far because we as a team understand that clean energy is a fantastic business opportunity. 

Administrators don’t want to hear that climate change will displace millions of people in coming years or that mountain-top removal destroys lives in Appalachia. Ears perk up, however, at talk of investments in new lighting fixtures with a two year payback, or solar panels which can help increase the university endowment. We’ve taken this approach to help pass several student government resolutions calling for cleaner energy on campus. 

I personally have used the same approach in writing news articles calling out UGA’s missed opportunities to save money and promote smart energy use. I’ve been interviewed about so-called green bonds, and I’ve written a paper with other student researchers on how UGA can decrease its energy use by 25% and carbon emissions by 20% all with a less than 10 year payback.

Fighting climate change has made me appreciate understanding both sides of a business transaction. On one side lies a generation of millennials fighting to address a catastrophic climate cliff. On the other, a group of powerful decision makers whose entire lives have been based around an energy industry that doesn’t pay for its yearly billion dollar damages to our health, our nation’s economy, and the environment. 

The beauty of the marketplace, however, is its ability to match parties of differing views with the opportunity to produce huge gains, both financially and ethically.

The process of learning about clean energy business opportunities has taught me more about finance and operating in the business world than I ever thought possible. The knowledge I’ve gained has inspired me to put my money where my mouth is and invest heavily in clean energy companies. My experience in marketing clean energy to university administrators also lead me to spend my summer in San Francisco interning for the CEO of a major renewable algal oils company called Solazyme.

I hope to follow my activist roots into the world of finance, where a green Renaissance is taking place. Creative financing companies like Mosaic are using twenty-first century ingenuity to crowdfund solar power projects nationwide. Even Warren Buffett, America’s most prominent investor, backed solar energy through a $2 billion deal with SunPower Corp. earlier this year.

In a time of increasing regulation, dwindling small business and growing corporate influence, it’s important for millennials to realize we are now responsible for maintaining the idea of free enterprise. From a coal boiler in Georgia to a pipeline in Canada, the opportunities to replace dirty fuels through smart business are limitless. I am confident our scrappy generation will seize them before our time is up.

Help this article reach even more people. $3 funds 450 more viewers through targeted ads and promoted Tweets.  


Make it Louder

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Tyler Faby

Finance student at the University of Georgia, Eco-Libertarian, Clean Energy Advocate & Investor

MORE FROM

Movement for Black Lives activists disrupt Minneapolis Pride to protest Philando Castile verdict

Protesters reportedly held signs with messages like "No KKKops at Pride."

Protesters reportedly arrested near NYC's Stonewall Inn, Pride March endpoint

The reason for the arrests were not immediately known.

Marchers arrested in Istanbul as Pride parade continues despite cancellation

The organizers' decision to move forward with the previously cancelled march led to clashes with police.

Car slams into Eid celebrants in UK, injuring 6; police say terrorism isn't suspected

Police say they believe an Eid celebrant was behind the wheel of the car that injured six outside a mosque.

Oil truck explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153

The deadly fire broke out as residents rushed to collect the leaking oil from the overturned tanker.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

Movement for Black Lives activists disrupt Minneapolis Pride to protest Philando Castile verdict

Protesters reportedly held signs with messages like "No KKKops at Pride."

Protesters reportedly arrested near NYC's Stonewall Inn, Pride March endpoint

The reason for the arrests were not immediately known.

Marchers arrested in Istanbul as Pride parade continues despite cancellation

The organizers' decision to move forward with the previously cancelled march led to clashes with police.

Car slams into Eid celebrants in UK, injuring 6; police say terrorism isn't suspected

Police say they believe an Eid celebrant was behind the wheel of the car that injured six outside a mosque.

Oil truck explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153

The deadly fire broke out as residents rushed to collect the leaking oil from the overturned tanker.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.