Latinos Lead the Way in the Green Economy
By Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins As we work to build a healthy green economy, Latinos in America have a critical role to play. It's not just because of growing influence at the voting booth. Latinos make up a huge portion of our workforce -- and it's getting bigger every day. By 2050, a projected 33 percent of American workers will be Latino. And jobs that help keep our air and water clean are an area of tremendous interest to these workers, according to a poll by the National Council de La Raza (NCLR) and Sierra Club. Nearly 90 percent of Latinos polled said they'd prefer to work in clean energy industries than fossil fuels. That makes sense, because there is a bright green future ahead for workers in these industries. A recent NCLR report shows that Latinos stand to gain tremendously by working in green jobs -- especially in "hot spot" cities like Albuquerque, Los Angeles, Little Rock, Knoxville, and McAllen, Texas. But these opportunities aren't just on the horizon -- they're here. Already, Latinos all over the country are leading the way in promoting sustainable business and healthy jobs. Just look at Gabriel Mandujano, a Green For All partner who founded Wash Cycle Laundry, a Pittsburgh company that focuses on shrinking the environmental footprint of the laundry business while providing quality job opportunities for local workers from disadvantaged communities. Or Diana Teran, who started La Tuana Tortillas, a Tucson company that helps fill the need for healthy, local food with its natural, vegan, sustainable tortillas. Meanwhile, Latinos are working to cultivate resilience and sustainability in communities around the country. Green For All Fellow Luis Perales recently spoke to members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute about the impacts of climate change on Latinos. Perales, who founded Tierra y Libertad Organization, is working with local leaders in Tucson on a Barrio Sustainability Project focused on solutions like rainwater catchment systems and neighborhood food gardens. Here at Green For All, we've launched a new Spanish language website that provides information about environmental issues and materials to help organize local communities to promote sustainability. Check it out. Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins is the Chief Executive Officer for Green For All. Prior to coming to Green For All, Phaedra was head of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council and Working Partnerships USA. While there, she earned her reputation as one of the nation's most brilliant, inspirational and creative problem solvers for working families. She also earned a wealth of experience that will help her lead Green For All to new heights. This article originally appeared in HuffPost Green.