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Noted: Hire Your Own Eco-Concierge

Nov 4, 2011

by Chappell Ellison

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

When it comes to committing to an eco-conscious lifestyle, it feels like there’s no room for laziness. Everything must be considered, from how you dispose of trash, to the reusable container that protects the lunch you take to work. It’s hard enough to remember your reusable tote bags when going to the store, let alone additional pouches for fruit and vegetables.

Recently, The New York Times reported on the burgeoning eco-concierge service industry, where assistants do everything from recommend vegan clothing lines to stock your fridge with ethically-produced groceries. “The problem with going green is that people think it takes so much work, so much effort, so much conscious decision-making,” said Letitia Burrell, president of Eco-Concierge NYC, where memberships cost anywhere from $175 a month to $3,500 a year. We’re all busy people, but an eco-concierge seems to send out a terrible message: being good to the environment is a luxury.

In some ways, I can relate to the need for a coach, whatever the cost. An eco-concierge isn’t much different from a personal trainer — some of us need to be held accountable by another human being to manifest meaningful changes in our lives. But just like the rapid deflation of my biceps the moment I stop seeing a trainer, an eco-concierge doesn’t guarantee you’ll sustain such green practices long after you discontinue their services. While pumping iron at the gym will always be a conscious choice, there is room for a future in which being friendly to the environment is second nature, requiring little to no thought. Until then, hopefully we’ll be able to strike a balance. How do we make going green an approachable, accessible act?

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3 Featured Comments

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts said 5 years ago Featured

    I am not put off by the idea of an eco-concierge, even if it means that people are making a profit from the idea of going green. As we learned about in the large storage container recycling article, not all 'going green' ideas are good ones and a little guidance in this area is not such a bad thing. I know that as a busy mom of five, a shop owner, a buyer for a manufacturer and a bunch of other hats I wear, I do not always have the time to research the best way to do things and must defer to experts. It is no different from hiring an accountant for help with your taxes or a personal trainer to help you at the gym. You are paying for the expertise that others possess to help you do things the right way.

  • meganemoral

    meganemoral said 5 years ago Featured

    Personally, I don't think the eco-concierge sends out that strong of a 'green is a luxury' message. People hire maids all the time, but that doesn't mean that having a tidy home is a luxury. What it does mean is that people who have the cash but not the presence-of-mind or the know-how to be green, can still do it - in the same way that people who have the cash, but not the time, to have a clean and tidy home can still have one. I see an opportunity here. This seems like more than just doing the 'hard work' for you - they're recommending brands and communicating their knowledge of the market, which will be valuable for the client and for the next generation. Kids who are used to getting organic, locally-farmed fruit juice instead of Coca Cola from the fridge will grow up to serve organic, locally-farmed fruit juice to their own children. I think if this is a way to educate ourselves in the sea of green and semi-green and supposedly-green products, it could be the way forward. If nothing else, at the very least it sets a good example. And an example is all it takes to raise a new generation of greenies. A great thought-provoking post: I think I want a green concierge! And a maid, come to that :P

  • ecomodernconcierge

    ecomodernconcierge said 5 years ago Featured

    Thanks Erica! I am the owner of Eco-Modern Concierge in Houston, TX mentioned in the article. I want to clear up so concerns that several people mentioned. A lot of my clients want to be taught how to be green and not always just have me do it for them without them doing anything. I research products extensively and use them myself before I recommend them to anyone. To me a company to really be green, besides ingredients, etc. I look at their ethics and morals of how the company is ran. I teach people how to make small steps like changing products, lightbulbs, etc. and others want to know larger things like composting, clothing, building materials,etc. I have a strong focus in organizing as well. Going "green" has been a way of life for me since I was younger, but I think many people can benefit from it in one way or another. I suggest just do want you can, you don't have to do everything. Any little bit can help.

53 comments

  • VictoriaWest

    VictoriaWest said 5 years ago

    I'm not very surprised, nowadays people build an industry around almost anything. To answer your question (how to make "going green" more accessible), personally I think it's best to introduce change step-by-step. Take small "green" steps when you are ready and mature enough and stick to them!

  • VoleedeMoineaux

    VoleedeMoineaux said 5 years ago

    Way cool!

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts said 5 years ago Featured

    I am not put off by the idea of an eco-concierge, even if it means that people are making a profit from the idea of going green. As we learned about in the large storage container recycling article, not all 'going green' ideas are good ones and a little guidance in this area is not such a bad thing. I know that as a busy mom of five, a shop owner, a buyer for a manufacturer and a bunch of other hats I wear, I do not always have the time to research the best way to do things and must defer to experts. It is no different from hiring an accountant for help with your taxes or a personal trainer to help you at the gym. You are paying for the expertise that others possess to help you do things the right way.

  • rozzie

    rozzie said 5 years ago

    Let's all do our part.

  • 2TrickPony

    2TrickPony said 5 years ago

    well there is so much misinformation about green products, what is really green, where do you draw the line? My main concern would be how the company researches their purchases. A good recent example would be curly light bulbs. An environmental nightmare, touted as a green product.

  • AvianInspirations

    AvianInspirations said 5 years ago

    I neither have the means to hire an eco-concierge nor want to. I like doing my own foot work, I find I appreciate and understand my purchases better.

  • volkerwandering

    volkerwandering said 5 years ago

    Going green is a great idea, but we really need to find a way to not pump so much carbon into the air. I read an article today in the newspaper that the level of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago. Scary! No wonder the weather is so strange these days...

  • meganemoral

    meganemoral said 5 years ago Featured

    Personally, I don't think the eco-concierge sends out that strong of a 'green is a luxury' message. People hire maids all the time, but that doesn't mean that having a tidy home is a luxury. What it does mean is that people who have the cash but not the presence-of-mind or the know-how to be green, can still do it - in the same way that people who have the cash, but not the time, to have a clean and tidy home can still have one. I see an opportunity here. This seems like more than just doing the 'hard work' for you - they're recommending brands and communicating their knowledge of the market, which will be valuable for the client and for the next generation. Kids who are used to getting organic, locally-farmed fruit juice instead of Coca Cola from the fridge will grow up to serve organic, locally-farmed fruit juice to their own children. I think if this is a way to educate ourselves in the sea of green and semi-green and supposedly-green products, it could be the way forward. If nothing else, at the very least it sets a good example. And an example is all it takes to raise a new generation of greenies. A great thought-provoking post: I think I want a green concierge! And a maid, come to that :P

  • AlisaDesign

    AlisaDesign said 5 years ago

    Great illustration!

  • VintageBeach

    VintageBeach said 5 years ago

    Eco-Concierge NYC link comes up "account suspended?"

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 5 years ago

    Great post!!!

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 5 years ago

    Who cares about the method in which people pitch in, they are pitching in in their own way. Obviously the people who utilize these services do care..

  • NutfieldWeaver

    NutfieldWeaver said 5 years ago

    While I admire the entrepreneurial spirit of the Eco-Concierge NYC folks, I don't think that we need to view "going green" as an insurmountable obstacle that requires expert guidance (and a hefty wallet). Small efforts that turn into habits will make a difference in the long run. Ask any school-aged child to name a few things that can be done to help the environment -- I would be willing to bet that they'd be as insightful as any expert.

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 5 years ago

    The folks that can afford it will always hire others to think about or do all the things they can't be bothered with themselves, but I won't be convinced of their sincerity until I see them being chauffeur driven in electric cars instead of gas guzzling limos! Look on the bright side, anything that encourages them to part with their money is good for the economy!

  • hillbillyhulagal

    hillbillyhulagal said 5 years ago

    I do not mean to sound pessimistic but what happens at all the landfalls? What happens after all the garbage and trash is dumped. That rreally bothers me.

  • EmilyEckel

    EmilyEckel said 5 years ago

    Another thought provoking post! Thanks. It shouldn't be so hard to live a green lifestyle.

  • HouseOfMoss

    HouseOfMoss said 5 years ago

    Sure, conscious living takes effort– but hiring someone to do your part for you doesn't seem right. Still, though, every little bit counts...

  • zenceramics

    zenceramics said 5 years ago

    I think it is ridiculous to hire an eco-concierge. People that are wealthy and want to show off and tell friends that they are into "green" and they have this new novelty service - eco- concierge. It just shows laziness of Americans that this kind of service can survive as a business. People that really care about the environment and eating healthy will take time to get educated themselves and will make conscious decision on their purchases. And it is not hard to have healthy, eco-sensitive life style. Just supplement worthless waste of time like watching stupid TV shows, consuming junk food and buying stuff you really do not need.

  • louilouivintage

    louilouivintage said 5 years ago

    it wouldn't take much research to do this kind of work yourself. seems silly to hire someone else.

  • DivineSparkle

    DivineSparkle said 5 years ago

    I don't see anything wrong with it. I am lucky that I live in a place where I could easily take green living classes and learn all of the details that people would be very surpried to know. There's a lot more to being green than people realize and until you take classes in it, then you probably won't totally understand what I'm saying.

  • MootiDesigns

    MootiDesigns said 5 years ago

    Not only that, But how about the way we dispose the rest of our trash that is non-recyclable. There's anothe problem in America. In France the grocery stores have stopped a long time ago giving plastic bags, so you better come prepared. And the non-recycled trash is burned eco-friendly. So they say! There needs to be accountability accross the board, from how manufacturers package their product to trash companies disposing trash. Boy we could go on and on...

  • TheJewelryChateau

    TheJewelryChateau said 5 years ago

    Yay, my friend Amy and her company Eco-Modern Concierge was in this NYT article. How wonderful that it prompted an article from Etsy!

  • RossLab

    RossLab said 5 years ago

    It's not a luxury. Everyone can make a difference, one drop at a time...

  • ecomodernconcierge

    ecomodernconcierge said 5 years ago Featured

    Thanks Erica! I am the owner of Eco-Modern Concierge in Houston, TX mentioned in the article. I want to clear up so concerns that several people mentioned. A lot of my clients want to be taught how to be green and not always just have me do it for them without them doing anything. I research products extensively and use them myself before I recommend them to anyone. To me a company to really be green, besides ingredients, etc. I look at their ethics and morals of how the company is ran. I teach people how to make small steps like changing products, lightbulbs, etc. and others want to know larger things like composting, clothing, building materials,etc. I have a strong focus in organizing as well. Going "green" has been a way of life for me since I was younger, but I think many people can benefit from it in one way or another. I suggest just do want you can, you don't have to do everything. Any little bit can help.

  • oldsnapshot

    oldsnapshot said 5 years ago

    I am going to ramble because this is a passionate subject for me. We have night classes in our community to learn a new hobby, craft, cooking, photography, or how to sell on Ebay- all under 50 bucks. How helpful would it be if they had a beginner and intermediate courses for going green. It has been a process for our family. My issue is packaging in grocery stores. We are trying to reduce plastic by using totes, but then half the products are in crappy packages that can't be recycled- in a health food store. If they are recyclable, they aren't always the ones that can be recycled in our area. We now bake our bread, make our yogurt, buy in bulk, use cloth bags, ditched the paper towels, make cleaners, make laundry detergent, buy shampoo bars, make toothpaste, deodorant, milk a goat, grow our veggies and herbs, make our pizza ( we need to learn how to make cheese, uhg) buy clothing at second hand stores. The process goes, on and on..and we still have items in our house that are plastic. It is not only about finding recyclable plastic, but reducing it. It feels like a battle! When we have family over for a barbecue, I eventually get asked where the Tupperware, tin foil, plastic utensils, napkins are. Things like that. Half the time it's doesn't seem worth explaining, I just tell them we don't have it. They seem to seem disinterested if I start to explain simple eco things. With one outdoor family event, we consume so much waste! It feels defeating, but I am trying to figure out a solution in the future. I'm dealing with in-laws, so I have to be careful :) I think paying someone to teach people about products and to take it a step further buy teaching them to think about the company's morals and ethics- would benefit my family members..because they wouldn't really listen to me :) The more resources, the better. If they are free or cheap, the better.

  • windupgirl

    windupgirl said 5 years ago

    Ridiculous. Just go shopping at your local farmers market!

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 5 years ago

    If you can afford it, great idea! I can handle my green life style on my own1

  • yimmekedesign

    yimmekedesign said 5 years ago

    Real soon, we are going to need someone to teach us how to love and be kind ! And even sooner we are going to need someone to teach us how to breath...! Come on...we are stronger than that, aren't we?!

  • christy1223smith

    christy1223smith said 5 years ago

    i enjoy we r doing our best to be green, and eco friendly, we r still learning, and its not as easy as other people may know,

  • HoneyThistle

    HoneyThistle said 5 years ago

    I don't think it's a bad idea. People have different approaches of going green, and some may not even know where to start given the overwhelming number of things you need to change if you truly want to live a sustainable lifestyle.My only concern is that I hope this doesn't turn into MORE consumption per capita than our current level. I find a lot of the 'green' products today are only masquerading as being 'green' in order to increase demand for it, while the component that is actually environmentally responsible is only 5% of the product. That, to me, is the most dishonest thing in the industry right now, and I hope the eco concierge recognizes this and avoids these marketing fads.

  • Bathropolitan

    Bathropolitan said 5 years ago

    I love this idea, mainly because we also sell organic and chic party favors and gifts at our shop. They targeting they same audience as us and i would love to get involved with them as a vendor if possible. I would think that a lot of their customers might get married in the future and buy more handmade and organic party favors...recycled wedding bouquets and and may more artisan soap favors. This is great for all of us at Etsy and all organic businesses,because now there are not only Green Wedding Planners but also Green Life Planners, too.

  • pouch

    pouch said 5 years ago

    I think it's a bit sad that people think they need to hire someone to help them live a 'green' lifestyle...we can all make changes, however small, it all helps... as Audrey Hepburn said: "Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm... As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others."

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 5 years ago

    Interesting.

  • nevinackered

    nevinackered said 5 years ago

    This service is waaaaay too overpriced for something that offers advice on the best eco places to shop/eat/have your hair cut etc. If they want to make it more accessible (and not appear like a luxury), it should either be cheaper or completely free. Not to mention, imagine how much more business these people will get just by being recommended by an organisation like that. It makes more sense for it to be available for everyone, not only for those who can afford pay for it.

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 5 years ago

    Interesting idea, it does smack a little on cashing in on peoples guilt but I would say that for large to medium sized businesses this could be really useful. Some companies quite often turn a blind eye to where they could be more ethical and eco-contious!

  • ToosDetectiveAgency

    ToosDetectiveAgency said 5 years ago

    Everyone is busy. If something is important to you, you'll find a way to make it happen.

  • 22jewelryart

    22jewelryart said 5 years ago

    I think perhaps the connotation of the word 'concierge' brings images of luxury and expensiveness. The term 'eco coach' has a different feel to it, doesn't it? Words are powerful, as are their connotations, as these are different for everyone. And I imagine a 'concierge' makes more money than a 'coach'!

  • socompton33

    socompton33 said 5 years ago

    i think it's a great idea. if it inspires someone to become aware of their own personal waste and choose to hire someone to help them better themselves and the planet, what's wrong with that. It's their money, it's their time, and it's their personal choice. Not only that, what's wrong with starting an ethical business and providing a service that other's are willing to pay for, and that you are passionate about. The idea career is to do something you are good at and passionate about and find a way to make money at it. In this economy where jobs are few and far between, if you can work for yourself, that's a success story in itself. I think we are all so quick to judge others and what and how they spend their money. To each his own. We must learn to look at the bigger picture and support eachother!

  • sparrowsalvage

    sparrowsalvage said 5 years ago

    Eh- doesn't really bother me any more than most luxury assistant services- maids, personal trainers, stylists, shoppers, dog walkers, babysitters etc etc etc. There's always profit to be made when people have too much money and not enough time/intelligence/inclination. All the rewards without the effort is the theme of society nowadays; it sounds negative of me to have this attitude but as a realist I've seen it come up time and time again. Hard work is an endangered species. I'm also wondering why there's no featured products for this blog post? There is copious ethical and green products on Etsy, could you not have had your eco-concierge pick some things out for you?

  • JennasRedRhino

    JennasRedRhino said 5 years ago

    Isn't this why we have children? Someone's got to sort the trash out, it might as well be them!

  • IdeallyYours

    IdeallyYours said 5 years ago

    With all of the information available these days, we seem to be doing less and less thinking ourselves. Being green is challenging, certainly, but not complicated. I would be interested to see the services that they do offer to help the hopeless consumers, but their website has been suspended...maybe the idea hasn't quite caught on?

  • Hippiechicjewelz

    Hippiechicjewelz said 5 years ago

    To look at this in a simple pollution standpoint, one could argue that it has some points, such as: switching to eco-friendly cleaning products, pesticides, or changing out appliances, fixtures, or sprinkler systems to reduce waste of power and water, but nothing that could not be done by ones own self by GOOGLE-ING..... or even YOU-TUBE the HOW-TO'S.....

  • distantplanet

    distantplanet said 5 years ago

    I don't see the point of criticizing how people with money to spare choose to spend it. Sure, we could all be green on our own, but you must admit it does take time to research all the options. It's more economically feasible for some people to spend that time doing whatever they're really good at and getting paid for it, and then pay someone else to do other things for them. In turn, their maids, trainers, or eco-concierges make a living. Everyone benefits. I'd like to reply to Hillbillyhulagal's post from 3 days ago about what happens to all the landfills- they can tap old landfills for methane and run electrical generators off them. We've got several very large generating facilities around here running on landfill gas. It uses a renewable resource, reduces the demand for coal or nuclear power plants, and multiple small power plants are less susceptible to terrorism or natural disasters than one big one would be. It's not as good as just reducing our waste and power consumption, but, as several of you have pointed out, every little bit helps.

  • ToosDetectiveAgency

    ToosDetectiveAgency said 5 years ago

    One concern I'd have with such a service is the veracity of their knowledge. Most of us have heard of "greenwashing," but there could be unintentional problems as well. For example, there is a woman in my office who is always digging in the trash and shouting, "This is recyclable!" A colleague and I had to print and post the list of items our city actually recycles, since they don't take everything with a little triangle of arrows on the bottom. An eco-concierge might be well-meaning and confused (as I often am), or just in it for the money.

  • julsofparadise

    julsofparadise said 5 years ago

    This is Paradise. And we all need to preserve paradise!

  • Steinwaysmom

    Steinwaysmom said 5 years ago

    It's sad that being green means swimming against the current. I actually had to get on the internet to research yogurt brands only to find out that my premium farm style yogurt that looked like it was produced on a small farm was owned by a giant corporation. Guess hiring an eco concierge is better than people blowing thousands on big screen TV's and such...

  • Homesteadsheep

    Homesteadsheep said 5 years ago

    I am all for anything that promotes the use of wholesome, healthy foods and other products produced by local farmers and artisians. Lets face it the middle class is getting smaller. If someone has moved up and can now pay someone else (and provide a job for someone who has slipped out of middle class) well let the system work. The more support the small farmer can get the morre of us there will be==therefor lets grow the small farmers numbers again.

  • ScrappyStuffSupplies

    ScrappyStuffSupplies said 5 years ago

    I love to hear about any new idea or company that supports green initiatives. And of course they should make a profit - all the companies destroying the environment do. But for those folks who can't afford a concierge - there are little steps everyone can take to go green. I just made the investment for one LED lightbulb - kind of expensive, but makes me feel better about my carbon footprint or lack of.

  • pookdesignz

    pookdesignz said 5 years ago

    So many great points raised here - I'm impressed at how deeply so many of you think about things with regards to eco-friendly initiatives and the societal/cultural situation of the day - its certainly an inspiration to me to know how much people really care - whether you agree with the business of an eco-concierge or not or what your thoughts are about such an initiative, I just find it hopeful to know that so many wrestle with all the complexities our modern day life and are trying to carve out an existence whose goal is to make our world a better place. Thumbs up to all who have posted:)

  • InMaterial

    InMaterial said 5 years ago

    Some people need advice to make changes or do new things in their lives. They are not self starters or confident in their abilities. That's why we have service industries. If we were to do a poll, I'm sure 95% of etsians would not fall into this category since we like to do things ourselves. Whatever it takes to make people go green is wonderful.

  • twigletters

    twigletters said 5 years ago

    Interesting, thank you

  • JenMcLamb

    JenMcLamb said 5 years ago

    Great article and comments - hope it gets more people thinking about our disposable lifestyles in the US. My ECO JEWELS line of jewelry is based on demonstrating that beauty is all around us and even trash can be re-made into something treasured and lovely! Not everyone has the vision to see such things. If someone cares enough to hire a coach to get them started living GREEN- good for them!

  • Marumadrid

    Marumadrid said 5 years ago

    I'd rather create something like a paid number to ask for green advice! ;)

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