In the midst of frenzied holiday shopping, where long lines and retail madness are the status quo, we refreshingly stumbled across JJ Ramberg and her brainchildren GoodSearch.com and GoodShop.com. Powered by Yahoo!, GoodSearch is just like any other search engine whereby you can plug in whatever it is you're looking for (perhaps that perfect urban compost?) and simultaneously donate money from the site's advertising dollars to your favorite cause--at no extra cost to you! Similarly, GoodShop allows you to online shop participating merchants who donate a certain percentage of proceeds to your preferred non-profit.
So how did such do-good websites come into fruition? Co-founder JJ found juggling a journalism career with CNN and MSNBC and raising three under-age-three kids left little time to support organizations saving the environment, providing disaster relief and finding cures. A simple click of a search engine button, however, seemed doable. We agree!
How did you get into this line of work?
I've always been interested in socially responsible business. In addition, through a few personal experiences, I have been made very aware of how much support nonprofits need in order to do the very important work so many of them are doing. So, given my background in the Internet as well as working with nonprofits, I decided, with my brother, to create a way for people to effortlessly support their favorite causes.
What was your "a-ha" moment?
I saw how much revenue search engines were generating each year and I thought, "Wow, what if we could somehow figure out a way to redirect some of that money to organizations working to make this world a better place." So, we did!
Who is your green hero?
Today, it was my two year old son. After cooking breakfast, I went to throw the egg shells in the garbage can and he said "No mommy. Eggs go in the compost." If we can raise a generation of children for whom this is second nature (even in New York City where I live), we've created a generation of green heroes!
What is your ultimate green goal?
To live a life that is an example for my children so that "being green" is something they just are rather than something they strive to be.
What is your motivation?
Each year when we send the checks out, we receive so many emails from organizations letting us know how they are going to use the funds from GoodSearch and GoodShop. It really makes all the hard work worth it to hear how that money is being used to change the world!
What is most important to you, ecologically speaking?
Getting everyone to understand how individually we can all make a difference.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Getting the word out. Using GoodSearch and GoodShop is a no-brainer--they offer such incredibly simple ways to help out a cause you care about even when you don't have the extra time or money to donate. Once people learn about the sites, their reaction is generally, "There's no reason not to use them!" So, our challenge is to make sure everyone knows about the services.
What is the most rewarding?
Each year, we get the chance to write checks to thousands and thousands of organizations that are working to make this world a better place. The first year we did this, I thought that I'd never have a more rewarding work day in my life. But, it turns out, that day is just as exciting every year.
Of the people you have worked with, who impresses you most?
While volunteering for a microfinance organization in India, I met a group of women who had never been to school nor earned a living wage. With the help of this organization, the women took out a small loan, started a company and eventually beat out a well established company for a government contract. It was pretty incredible to hear their story and see how their work changed not only their lives, but the lives of so many in their community.
What green thing do you do everyday?
I try to be very conscious of the waste I generate and limit it. I found that once I started really paying attention to this, there were so many little things that I could easily change. (Though, given the example I wrote above about the egg shells, you can see that sometimes I slip!)
What do you wish you could do?
My wish is actually about to happen. My husband started a wonderful architecture firm called Guerin Glass Architects and he's just finished plans to turn our house into a "green" house--including a green roof to help insulate the house, solar panels, a system to catch our rainwater to use for irrigation, and a geothermal heating system.
What is your biggest eco-sin?
My husband and I are having a long discussion about what kind of car to buy which suits our needs. He's really pushing for a hybrid and I find myself resisting because there may not be a hybrid that fits three car seats (we have three under-age-three kids!). So, my biggest sin right now is even considering getting a car that is not as efficient as it could be! (I suspect that in the end, the hybrid will win out, but I feel badly even considering one that isn't!).
What is your best green advice?
My advice is to just be conscious of your mark in the world. I found that once I did that, changing my behavior came naturally. For example, once I took the time to think about how a plastic bag from a drugstore that I'd use for 15 minutes would likely end up in a landfill, it became easy to remember to carry along a reusable bag. (And, if anyone is looking for a great reusable bag, I love the ones from Blue Avocado which fold into themselves and easily fit into your purse or bag!)
Change Makers is series of interviews with people famous and obscure who are creating a more sustainable world through their work. Meet more Change Makers here.
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