EcoInterview – John Metta

John Metta

John Metta

John Metta is an EcoApprentice Advisory Board member as well as one of the programmers who helped with initial phases of EcoApprentice.  He is a hydrologist, a talented programmer and entrepreneur.  His scientific and business expertise have been greatly valued by the EcoApprentice team.


1)  Tell us a little about yourself?

That’s a crazy open question. I got two bachelor’s degrees in science, then two masters degrees in science and engineering, then after all that I decided that as long as I struggle, I’ll never stop being a programmer, so went back to programming backend systems, mostly for scientists. My hobbies are Irish Flute, cycling, archery, swimming, gardening, and, of course, programming.

2) What interested you about the EcoApprentice model/Why did you choose to serve on the EcoApprentice Advisory Board?

The EcoApprentice model was an interestingly new take on an old problem, and I like new views. I chose to serve on the board because I like the message and the meaning and thought it would be interesting to be a part of this great experiment.

3) How important is the sustainability issue to your clients?

Many of my clients are scientists, especially in the environmental sector, so they think about sustainability a great deal. However, I notice that many think about it in terms specific to their industry/field. For instance, a fisheries biologist may be concerned with river flows, but may not connect that high server usage means more power, which likely means more hydroelectric generation and decreased flows. I’d like to think that something like EcoApprentice will make broader, if somewhat hidden, sustainability issues more visible.

4) How do you think EcoApprentice can benefit businesses?

I haven’t thought about this question much beyond connecting people with good ideas to the business. The history of entrepreneurial development in this country is defined by people with good ideas being able to implement those good ideas, this places much of the benefit on the users of EcoApprentice, more than the businesses. However, partnerships between users with good ideas and businesses will only benefit both parties.

Five Cool Things About EcoApprentice We Didn’t Plan

The EcoApprentice model is pretty straight forward:

* Businesses share EcoChallenges.

* University Students/MBA Students work to resolve those EcoChallenges with EcoSolutions, gaining real world experience and, in many cases, credit from their University for the project.

* Businesses select their favorite EcoSolution and give the prize (if one is provided) to the winner.

In the past couple of months since our launch, our users are finding uses for EcoApprentice we hadn’t thought of. Here are our:

Five Cool Things About EcoApprentice We Didn’t Plan

1) It’s an Idea application: Business owners connect with other similar businesses/verticals and share ideas.

2) It provides B2B opportunities: When businesses post their EcoChallenge they can connect with other businesses to provide products and services.

3) It provides B2C opportunities: Companies can create awareness about their business and their engagement in being green (for free) when they become members.

4) Universities use it in multiple departments: University sign ups come from career services, MBA programs, school to work programs and more.

5) It’s not just students who are solving challenges: Business owners have provided some exceptional solutions for other businesses based on their own experiences and challenges (we created a category for this type of user called “School of Life”. Check out this solution provided by restaurant owner, Kathy Watson of Nora’s Table.

Whether you’re big or small and even if you can’t think of an EcoChallenge for your business yet, what are you waiting for? Sign up to be a member free and learn with us about all the great uses for EcoApprentice!

1% Percent for the Planet “Membership Marshal” Interview

Long before EcoApprentice turned our renewable-energy-powered lights on, we became members of 1% for the Planet. According to Wiki: One Percent for the Planet is an international organization whose members contribute at least one percent of their annual sales to environmental causes. Their mission is to “use market forces to drive positive environmental change by inspiring companies to give”.

One Percent for the Planet currently has 1,438 member companies representing 44 countries. Some of the largest names include Patagonia, Clif Bar, FIJI Water, Wonderful Pistachios, Wolverine World Wide, New Belgium Brewing and Jack Johnson.

Why did EcoApprentice become members? I recently interviewed Bordie O’Brien, who refers to himself as the Membership Marshal for 1%.

Richard: Tell me about 1%
Brodie: We provide 3rd party certification to verify that businesses who care to give to environmental causes are walking the talk. There is a saying: “There is no business to be done on a dead planet” People understand this as a very simple and straight forward way to show that a business is giving back. As membership in 1% grows, so does the value of the program, both for our member companies, non-profit partners, and for the planet.
Richard: How do you verify that a business really gives 1%?
Brodie: Members agree to send us either a copy of their tax return or certified CPA report, along with donation receipts provided by the recipient organization(s).
Richard: What if a corporation that’s a known polluter wants to join; is there a problem with that?
Brodie: No. We believe to be critical of this is untenable; fundamentally, joining means taking a step in the right direction. This creates a positive shift. It’s always a balancing act, but participating opens up conversations that can help lead a business (and their customers) to find and follow sustainable best practices.
Richard: What’s cool about your job?
Brodie: I get to meet very passionate people from all kinds of businesses that have incredible stories from around the world dedicated to making a difference!
Richard: Does this work?
Brodie: Yes! It’s a very holistic approach. Through their participation in 1%, businesses and industry are actively working to create a livable planet, rather than a roadblock. People want to do what’s right, and 1% makes it easy for companies to be part of the solution.

To find out more about how 1% for the Planet started, check out this short video – and for more on their mission (and some great music) watch this.

Making a difference while making a profit resonated strongly with our core vales at EcoApprentice. You can be part of the mission by becoming a member of EcoApprentice for free!

Green Students Needed

We’re excited about the number of businesses who have become members and shared their EcoChallenges, plus the university faculty and students who’ve signed on to participate. We’re looking for more green-minded students to help solve EcoChallenges; you know who you are — brilliant, ready to change the world. Helping to provide an EcoSolution can give you practical experience which will impress on a resume and allow you to interact with a business as you help solve sustainability challenges.

Here’s what Portland State University students said about their experience with EcoApprentice.

If you want to get involved with EcoApprentice, student membership is free for life, check it out and let us know what you think. Or better yet, become a member and help solve one of our EcoChallenges, as they say, you are the future!

We’d also like to give a shout out to the cool students at GoGreenStudents and at CampusEcology, check out what they’re doing on Twitter.