South Florida Green Drinks, the area's leading environmental group, will host its second annual Eco-Lifestyle Gala on Thursday, May 19 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. The group's co-founder, Marci Zaroff, spoke with Boca Raton about the organization and the city's green initiatives.

Visit southfloridagreendrinks.org for ticket information about the event, which includes an appearance by actress and philanthropist Patricia Arquette, who will receive the Eco-Lifestyle Pioneer Award.

 

Marci Zaroff

Chairman, South Florida Green Drinks; CEO, Under the Canopy

Where do you see Boca stacking up as far as its green initiatives?

“We’re in our infancy, but the spark has been ignited—so there’s a lot of potential here. What we’ve seen in the last year has been more than what’s ever happened in Boca’s history. We have a group of very engaged people, and I think the mayor is starting to become more proactive. ... The mayor has put together a green team in Boca, we’re seeing more and more LEEDS certification. Some other cities are further ahead, but the ball is rolling.”

What is the goal of South Florida Green Drinks?

“We want to create unity. There’s no greater force to engage people and bring them together than that common thread of ‘We’re all in this together.’ We’re not only citizens of the community, we’re citizens of the world. There is a sense of local-to-global that is starting to penetrate everything from retail to development; we need to think local, but understand that we all share the planet together.

“We want to up the ante and speak the language of Boca, which we know tends to be a bit more affluent. We want to demonstrate that green doesn’t mean ‘hippie.’ It doesn’t mean that you have to give up on the quality of life and comforts that you have. We want to create fun, engaging, nonjudgmental, mainstream events that will appeal to people who are passionate about the green movement and people who know nothing about it.”

Why should the residents of Boca care about making a difference?

“The movement has come far enough in terms of choice where it’s become another value in this country. When you look at products, services, brands, lifestyle, entertainment—if you can have everything you want and not deplete or destroy in the process, and if you can affect change and contribute to a better world ... it’s not why would you, it’s why wouldn’t you? I believe that sustainability is the next major movement, along the lines of the industrial revolution. This is the future. Sustainability is no longer a choice. It’s going to be an imperative. ... Part of what we’re creating is a platform for mainstream people to help them understand and be less scared of ‘green’ and to experience it from a place of having fun, education, inspiration and collaboration."

What is the next big green initiative that’s on the horizon?

“The entire textile industry is shifting right now. I’m working with Target and Bloomingdale’s on launching major sustainability platforms. We’re already seeing the likes of Nike and Wal-Mart shifting their practices. There isn’t a major company out there that isn’t looking at making big shifts in everything from production to marketing to their company cultures. ... Thank god. Apparel is one of the biggest industries in the world—and one of the leading causes of air and water pollution.”

What can Boca be doing better?

“Whether we’re talking about Boca or government in general, I’d like to see more incentives provided for making better environmental consumers. In Turkey, everybody has a solar panel on their roof and a solar water heater. We live in the Sunshine State. Imagine the amount of savings on burning fossil fuels were we to create a mandate regarding solar panels. ... What about savings incentives based on the amount of recycling you do? In Denmark, residents receive breaks for the recycling they do and for having cars that run more efficiently. I’d love to see these things built into our local system. There are cities starting to make such changes. ... China is on fire right now around green. They want to be the leader in the world in the green movement. If the U.S. doesn’t step up, we’re going to fall way, way behind.”