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Baby steps

For the folks at Ideal Bite, small changes can lead to big differences

If die-hard Greenpeaceers are launching their bodies in front of massive whaling ships on the one hand, and Hummer drivers are four-wheelin’ over pregnant turtles in beach restoration areas while tossing their McDonald’s trash out the window on the other hand, where do the rest of us fit in?

The founders of a website called Ideal Bite call themselves ‘a sassier shade of green’ and may be on to something to fill the gap. ‘The mission is to create a sustainable economy. The approach is real, and really fun,’ the site says. In order to do that, the company serves up bite-sized tips on how to make easy, environmentally friendly choices to 100,000 e-mail subscribers a day.

The website is the brainchild of Jen Boulden and Heather Stephenson. The pair had decided it was time to take matters into their own hands connecting ‘good people with good companies.’

Says Boulden from her office in Montana, ‘We realized that the hard-core environmental movement had failed because it was too polarizing.’

She adds, ‘We don’t believe it’s black and white. People can vote with their dollars. If you don’t believe that the government will save the world, why not help companies that are environmentally and socially responsible?’

The idea is that small changes, spread out over 100,000 people or more, make big differences.

The company brokers discounts from merchants of eco-friendly goods and services. To be offered the discounts, Ideal Bite asks subscribers to ‘opt in’ to a sub-group that participates in periodic surveys.

The Daily Bite covers subjects from travel to the garden, from animals to services. The tone is decidedly informal, and Boulden says that subscribers can relate with the blog, the humor and the admission that Biters aren’t perfect. In fact, in Boulden’s ‘eco-admission’ section of the Ideal Bite site she admits that she has a truck to haul her horses around and just bought a new hot tub.

But, she also describes that she’ll dry clothes outside when possible, look into a solar hot water heater and buy ‘energy credits’ from Terra Pass to balance out her imperfections.

Terra Pass, [www.terrapass.com], allows clients to calculate their carbon footprint and then buy credits that go to fund renewable energy projects and ‘offset’ those emissions.

According to Boulden, she’s always been environmentally aware, but was eco-active only on the weekends, while working on Wall Street during the week. She would bring the office recycling home with her because she knew the cleaning staff was throwing office paper away each night.

One day, while riding the New York City subway and carrying two duffel bags full of office paper, she says, ‘My heel caught an edge of a subway stair.’ She tripped and chipped her kneecap. It was the stimulus for some soul-searching. The result? Boulden decided she could make a more direct impact.

That direct impact now includes ‘helping America to become the leader in market transformation rather than mass consumption.’

Boulden predicts that the environment will be ‘the issue’ in the next 10 years. This creates a huge consumer market looking for options.

Out of the 100,000 Ideal Bite subscribers, most are women. ‘At any one point, there are just 15-18 percent male subscribers,’ she says.

When asked why, Boulden responds, ‘Women are the ones who are the household shoppers. They are interested in whether the cleaning products they use are safe to breathe, whether the lunches they prepare for their children are filled with pesticides.’ 

Ideal Bite

[www.idealbite.com]