Dan De Clercq ‘13
While doing research for his Green Mountain College MBA thesis, Dan De
Clercq stumbled across a remarkable finding: an estimated three million
tons of furniture is discarded in U.S. landfills every year. Extrapolating
from a U.K. study showing that 50% of discarded furniture is reusable,
he estimated half that tonnage was unnecessary waste. It’s a staggering
statistic for anyone. For a man who sells furniture for a living, it was a
revelation. Sustainability is now a central pillar of the De Clercq Office
Group, his Connecticut-based enterprise that generates about $25
million of annual revenue. Dan’s business works with corporate and
non-profit customers worldwide to incorporate sustainable furnishings
in their offices. He supports furniture manufacturers that adhere to
environmental best practices such as Greenguard and the Forest
Stewardship Council, and he’s established an Office Furniture Rescue
program to help keep useful furniture out of the waste stream. “The first
question I used to get from clients when I told them about sustainable
furnishing was: ‘how much is it going to cost me,’” he said. “Increasingly
they see it as a good investment.” Part of the attraction is a growing
interest in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
building projects. The De Clercq Office Group provides clients with
furnishing solutions consistent with green building practices.
Ruth Larkin ’10
Ruth Larkin ‘10 and her husband Tim have a similar routine to many
American families—they work, have a child, and need to run errands.
The difference? They do it all by bicycle. “I did a ‘car-free semester’ as
a Delicate Balance project in Fall 2009, and showed that we can live
without cars,” Ruth says. She discovered that, with a little creativity
and persistence, doing without a car is possible even in rural Vermont.
In response to the detriments of using fossil fuels and the Deepwater
Horizon spill, they set a deadline to sell their vehicle, and on September
15, 2010, when their car sold, the only emotion she felt was relief. “Due
to central location and proximity to the bus, we didn’t have a need for
the car. We figured we could rent a car if the trip was really worth it,”
she says. “My grandparents think we’re crazy, but it feels good to be
physically active, and it feels good to act in a way that is in line with my
beliefs.” At home, they grow a lot of their own food and her husband
Tim has started a full-time bike shop with their 5-year-old son Zeb called
Johnson & Son Bikeworks. Tim specializes in restoring and repairing used
bikes, which helps keep other area cyclists on the road.
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