The growing focus on protecting the environment has been paying off in ways beyond helping Mother Earth, according to Early Show environmental lifestyle contributor Danny Seo as the show began a series it's calling "Early Goes Green."
He says going green has contributed to bulking up corporate bottom lines --and job rolls -- resulting in the emergence of positions unthinkable in years-gone-by.
Examples Seo pointed to on The Early Show Monday:
TOYOTA: Back in 1992, Toyota began creating technology known as Hybrid Synergy Drive, a gas/electric combination engine that proved to be one of the most fuel-efficient models ever for vehicles. At the time, Toyota wasn't a top-tier automaker and was never associated with the word "cool." In 2000, it introduced the Toyota Prius, while other automakers continued to produce gas-guzzling SUVs to meet consumer demands for them at the time. As gas prices rose, so did demand for the Prius. Today, Toyota is considered in a dead-heat with General Motors for the biggest annual sales on the planet, and the Toyota Prius is one of the top-selling cars and one of the best at retaining their value for resale. Because Toyota invested the time and money into green technology, it's now making hybrid parts for many other automakers, as well.
NATURAL GONE BIG-TIME: In 1984, Burt Shavitz, a beekeeper in Maine, met Roxanne Quimby, a 33-year-old single mom, and she helped him out by selling honey in old pickle jars from the back of his pickup truck. Over time, they created lip balms, lotions, soaps and shampoos. Today, their company, Burt's Bees, is owned by Clorox, which bought it for $913 million dollars.
L'Oreal purchased The Body Shop for $1.4 billion.
Colgate-Palmolive bought a majority stake in Tom's of Maine for $100 million
Estee Lauder bought Aveda for $300 million dollars.
According to Monster.com, data shows a steady increase in the number of environmental job postings since 2005, particularly for engineers, protection technicians and specialists.
This growth has been fueled by economic trends, with many jobs offered in the public sector, including such bureaus as the Environmental Protection Agency.
And you no longer need a background in science to join the green job brigade, either. The next decade will see an increase in green job opportunities in law, conservation and urban planning, according to the Environmental Careers Organization (ECO).
Solar Power Engineers: As energy prices rise and more homeowners are going green, there's been a growing demand for solar technicians. They install, maintain, operate, and test equipment and energy systems that use solar energy. Those interested in the design, planning, or research aspects of solar energy should enter a community college or two-year vocational school program leading to an associate degree. Such programs provide practical and theoretical courses, including math, science, photo-voltaics, solar-thermal systems, and solar architecture. Students who want professional engineering training can transfer some of the credits. Students can earn around $40,000 a year right out of a two-year program. Make $40,000 a year installing solar systems; demand will only increase as energy prices skyrocket.
Artists and designers: Healthy Home Decorators and Advisors: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the fast-growing needs and demands for interior designers is looking past coordinating fabrics and color palettes, but toward healthier and greener work and home environments. Three areas of design that are becoming increasingly popular are ergonomic design, elder design, and environmental-or green-design. Ergonomic design involves designing work spaces and furniture that emphasize good posture and minimize muscle strain on the body. Elder design involves planning interior space to aid in the movement of people who are elderly and disabled. Green design involves selecting furniture and carpets that are free of chemicals and hypoallergenic and selecting construction materials that are energy efficient or are made from renewable resources." BLS says eco decorating is a fast growing job market.
Environmental Lawyers: The forecast is for steady growth of environmental law opportunities, with 60 percent of the nearly 80,000 environmental lawyers currently in private practice. Median Salary: $103,130
Environmental Engineers: There's currently a huge demand for environmental engineers in both the public and private sectors. These jobs, usually in water, waste-water or air-quality management, are often listed with one of the 3,000-plus environmental engineering consulting firms that make up this thriving market. Analysts attribute a number of factors to this growth: an improved economy, particularly in the southern and western United States, more infrastructure construction and the rise in foreign markets (China and India for starters). Another factor that will help keep up the pace for the next decade is the retiring baby boomer demographic. Median Salary: $71,800
Environmental Scientists: These folks fulfill a very specific need that's primarily in the public sector, but shifting inexorably toward scientific consulting firms and technical contractors that work with government and industry. Another reason for the growing demand is the decreasing number of students who are choosing to major in this field. And tighter immigration laws for foreign students looking to study in the US add to the problem. The result is an overall deficit of qualified and experienced scientists. Median Salary: $55,000
Conservation Scientists/Foresters: While the current job outlook shows slow growth for these fields, they will likely pick up as boomers enter retirement. Working from federal labor statistics, the ECO finds that 33 percent of conservation scientists and foresters work with the federal government -- 21 percent at a state level and 11 percent with local government. Thirty-five percent are employed by private industry and consulting firms. Median Salary for Conservation Scientists: $56,515; Median Salary for Foresters: $51,938
White (Organic) Collar Corporate: Corporate Social Responsibility Directors: Every major corporation in every type of field is hiring executives called Corporate Social Responsibility Directors to help the company create plans and actions to be active members in their communities, give back profits to charitable programs, help employees be good stewards for the community, and be as environmentally sustainable as possible. These positions are at a wide variety of companies, from the hospitality industry to retail to Internet, and can be lucrative, depending on the size and demands of the job. As more and more consumers demand social and eco-responsibility from companies, the corporate social responsibility director position has become a more important and integral part of a company's overall DNA and way of doing of business. Six figure salaries enable people to do good and earn good money at the same time.