Eric Stallsmith, the creator of the almost 5-year-old AGreenerIndiana.com, focuses on helping nature lovers connect, share thoughts and resources. The website links to outdoor recreation sites to aid Hoosiers in planning trips throughout Indiana.
He says, as a sort of mission statement, “I see outdoor recreation tourism and being greener as being strongly related groups of people and interests. Once you canoe a river for the first time and see a heron or eagle, you naturally become greener. I am not trying to accomplish my goals. I am trying to help others accomplish their green goals. I am a website, not a group trying to accomplish something in particular. Instead I am trying to accomplish something by chance as people network and communicate. Good unfolds naturally from there.”
We interviewed Stallsmith via email.
ILG: When did you become interested in the idea of living green?
Eric Stallsmith: Even in high school I could see that it is costly to pollute. In college I learned that in economic terms it is possible for somebody to pollute for free and then the cost of that pollution is borne by everybody … the people other than the polluter are the ones paying that cost. I then understood that Indiana could save money by being greener. If it is cheaper to stop the pollution than it is for people to pay that cost, then you make money by stopping the pollution.
ILG: What has been your favorite experience so far in working toward green living?
Stallsmith: I think it is very rewarding to remind people that just doing one small thing helps. It is also rewarding to hear of instances where two AGI members can meet and share info, and then something good results from that. I don’t do anything personally except just help bring people together and help educate people with a living online magazine. I also like to work to involve the people interested in the environment and the outdoor recreation community being closer on the same page.
ILG: On the AGI website it says that Indiana is ranked 49th in Environmental Wellness. What do you
think the state’s biggest challenge is in this regard?
Stallsmith: I think that once the state recognizes that being greener is a money saver and not a money coster, then we can overcome our biggest challenge, which is will to improve. Is the cleanup of Fukushima in Japan gonna be cheap? Is the cleanup of these ash ponds gonna be cheap? How expensive is it if it bursts? Is it cheaper to head off a superfund site or clean one up? The ability to calculate costs properly is the biggest challenge.
ILG: With all the time you spend outdoors, does this make you more concerned for the environment or do you remain hopeful about turning things around in terms of pollution and waste?
Stallsmith: I think there will be successes and failures, but in general I think that humans will continue to diminish the natural world’s pristineness indefinitely. We will be doing good to just slow down the pace of diminishment. I also think that if you just focus on the good things that you can do to improve that is all the individual can really do. The system as a whole is outside of the control of the average guy.
ILG: Do you find most people are willing to change to be more sustainable or is it difficult to get people interested?
Stallsmith: I find that most people are interested, but people think that it costs more money or they have to give up something. In fact many things are money savers and that is what I like to stress. Money is commodity… I understand when people are resistant to paying a bunch of extra money to be more sustainable.
ILG: What would be your first advice to someone who is new to conservation or caring about green living?
Stallsmith: I would say just look at where you can live greener and save money. Drive a little less by vacationing closer to home, think about your home power and maybe you need to change your light bulbs or insulate or something. All these little things add up.
Check out Stallsmith’s page.