What is a green job?

A green job is any job or self-employment that genuinely contributes to a more sustainable world.

A green job is the coming together of a company or organization, with an individual motivated and capable of performing the role. The company or organization can either be in a 'green' sector (e.g. solar energy), or in a conventional sector How green is that job? but making genuine and substantial efforts to green its operations (not just greenwash).

A green job can be with business, nonprofit organizations, government or education. Small business, self-employment and entrepreneurship is very much a part of the new green economy.

Some green jobs require specific ‘green’ skills or education, such as a solar engineer, an environmental educator, or an organic gardener. Other positions do not necessarily require a green background — for example a graphic designer or accountant working for a green company or organization.

'Green' encompasses virtually all sectors of society: food, energy, transportation, education, government, etc. There are so many companies, organizations and jobs that it would be impossible to list them all in one place. Because 'green' is so broad, it can be helpful to focus on one or more environmental issues, career classifications (2) or sectors of society. Not all players think of themselves as 'green' or are affiliated with the green or environmental community.

The issue of sustainability is complex and ever-changing. It's not always obvious what is truly 'green' and sustainable, and what is not. If there's any doubt, techniques such as ecological footprint analysis, cradle-to-grave analysis, or environmental impact assessment should be applied to determine just how green any organization, product, service or job actually is.


Living green

Working in a green job must be part of a person's green lifestyle. Somebody who participates in the consumer lifestyle, eats factory farmed meat, and commutes alone to work ...is probably doing more harm than good, no matter what their employment. While nobody can be perfect, each of us must do what we can to live in greener, healthier ways. People who choose sustainable lifestyles often find that their financial needs decrease, giving them greater flexibility to get training, switch careers, start a business, work part time, and live a healthier lifestyle.


Why are green jobs important?

Many people are both concerned and motivated about the environment and would love to focus their energies around green work full-time. Except for the independently wealthy, the only way most people can afford to do this is through paid employment. Without green jobs, these people are often trapped in jobs with 'dinosaur' industries, perpetuating the unsustainable status quo. If we are to build a greener, more sustainable country, Canada needs to capture this wealth of skill, energy and enthusiasm!

Both GoodWork and mainstream job sites play an important role in letting people know that green opportunities exist; motivating them to pursue green education, volunteering and careers; and connecting them to a diverse pool of green opportunities.


Green organizations, companies, networks & associations

(Tip: whether or not you're interested in working with nonprofits, their sites, networks and associations are excellent gateways to the sector)


Green job / green career resources and guides

GoodWork.ca, Canada's green job site since 2001
Green Jobs (gateway site)
Green Job Search Tips
Create Your Own Green Job
Green Business Links
Self Employment Resources
Green Jobs in the news
Sustainable Living (2) (3)


How green is that job?

Not every job or company that calls itself green, actually is genuinely green or sustainable. Here are some ideas, tools and resources to help you evaluate a job or company before deciding to work with them.


Green at work

If you can't find or create a "green job", it's just as important to green your existing job or company from within. Staff and management at all levels can cooperate to green your workplace.


What's “green”?

'Green' encompasses virtually all sectors of society: food, energy, transportation, education, government, etc. Here are some examples of green activities and sectors that offer jobs:

Toxin-free homes • organic gardening • bicycling • walking • public transit • energy conservation • water conservation • biodiversity • solar and wind power • local and natural food • environmental health • waste reduction, reuse, recycling • consumerism • green building • non-motorized recreation • ecovillages • wildlife • parks and nature • environmental education • peace • green tourism • conservation • climate change • sustainable agriculture • green business • green media • sustainable living • sustainable development • sustainable forestry • rural issues • appropriate technology • and anything else that contributes to a more sustainable world.

The issue of sustainability is complex and ever-changing. It's not always obvious what is truly 'green' and sustainable, and what is not. If there's any doubt, techniques such as ecological footprint and cradle-to-grave analysis should be applied to determine just how green any organization, product, service or job actually is.

See also: Sustainability (2) (3) | Ecological Economics


Related terms: Green Career, Green Collar Worker, Environmental Employment, Environmental Internships, Environmental Volunteering. These terms have very similar if not identical meanings, although there is no universal agreement on their meaning. They are often used interchangeably.

See also: Environmental Education, Sustainable Living, Simple Living (2), Car-free Living, Environmental Volunteering, Ecological Economics.

Other definitions: other definitions of "what's a green job?".