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Riding the green wave

June 4, 2009

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Linda Mason for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Children carrying firewood in the sprawling Buhimba displacement camp near Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: Linda Mason for Mercy Corps

Last night, in my sustainability class, we read a case study on Kimpton hotels' EarthCare program. As we discussed the various benefits and challenges of green programs, I couldn’t help but be proud of the numerous contributions Mercy Corps is making towards the eco-conscious movement.

Harnessing innovation and community engagement, Mercy Corps has created programs that benefit both the environment and some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mercy Corps has constructed 20,000 fuel-efficient stoves for families that have been displaced by violence. The stoves reduce firewood consumption by 57-71 percent. Additionally, the decreased need for fuel creates a safer environment for women and children, who are often vulnerable to assault while gathering firewood.

Solar water heaters, biodiesel from cooking oil, green latrines, forestry projects, hydro-electric energy…these are all Mercy Corps projects that are increasing sustainability and improving the quality of life for thousands of people. Who would have thought that boutique hotels and international nonprofits had so much in common?