For some creative eco-entrepreneurs, getting green is its own reward, but outdoor gear giant KEEN decided to up the ante by awarding $150,000 in total prize money to a few clever individuals who've contributed in unique ways to green innovation. KEEN's STAND: UP contest rewards "creative types who were "willing to STAND UP, create possibilities and express their vision of what is possible" in the realm of sustainability.
A Grand Prize of $25,000 went to Spencer Brown, who founded Rent A Green Box, the first, comprehensive zero-waste pack and move solution in America. His company also recycles tough plastic bottles into rentable and reusable moving boxes called Recopacks. From the man himself:
"For every 100 Recopacks rented, we remove over 500 pounds of hard to recycle plastic trash from our landfills, prevent over 350 pounds of packing and moving waste entering our landfills, reduce our fuel consumption by 50 gallons, eliminate over 2,500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from entering our atmosphere and save three trees from being converted into a limited use, disposable cardboard box, that ultimately ends up in our landfills.
It's detox for our landfills and we're delivering environmental consciousness in a box!"
Nice. Five other runner-up winners included: Visual artist Toby Frayley, who creates scultpural lights out of repurposed vintage items; filmmaker Tonje Schei, who directed a doc that looks at the effects of children's disconnect from nature; designer Ron Ervin, who invented a three-in-one composter, water heater and heat exchange system; journalist James Mills, who created Adventures In Outreach, which highlights philanthropists engaged in adventure-inspired initiatives; and finally, photographer Jill Heinerth, who helped raise awareness of fragile underwater cave ecology through her daring photos.
Our fearless leader, BACKPACKER editor-in-chief Jon Dorn, served as one of the judges for KEEN's STAND: UP awards and got a first-hand look at most of these products and ideas.
"It was exciting to see so many out-of-the-box ideas that could have a real, practical impact. KEEN already has a strong legacy of giving back to the community — witness the company's substantial support for Big City Mountaineers — and kudos to them for taking an innovative approach to inspiring new thinking about sustainability within our everyday lives.
Next time I move, I know that I'm going with Spencer Brown's 'Rent-a-Green-Box.' Talk about your lightbulb ideas."
KEEN still has to give out awards for its STAND: OUT and STAND: FOR categories. All the winners and judges get to celebrate with the public at the STAND Festival in Portland, Oregon on July 12, 2008, which features food, drinks, music, and more than a few big ideas. Stay tuned.
— Ted Alvarez