April Climate Leader: John Haydock
Each month C3 will highlight a climate action leader in the community. Whether they are an innovator, business leader, citizen, organizer, educator, or all of the above, we look forward to giving these do-gooders their time in the spotlight! Have someone you'd like to nominate? Send an email to email@example.com.
John Haydock is an angel investor and business advisor who lives in Albemarle County. John has over 25 years of brand management, marketing, consumer product, and retail experience across small "sub $1MM" brands to portfolios of brands which exceeded $1B. Previously, John was President of Plow and Hearth and also held executive positions with Burt's Bees, Crutchfield Electronics, and Mott's. He currently serves as a board member for American Rivers and also volunteers with organizations like the Climate Reality Project and Generation 180.
1. How did you get involved and passionate about the environment?
When I was in my early 20's, I ran an event promotions company called Helium Highs. One of our largest sources of revenue was providing balloons for large releases at college football games. In 1989, a newspaper article was published which criticized balloon releases due to impact on sea turtles. Upon reading the article, I contacted a marine biologist at UNC Wilmington. Dr. Frank Schwarz explained that helium balloons travel by wind, some fall into ocean and are consumed by sea turtles which mistake them as a jelly fish (a favorite food source). After speaking with Dr. Schwarz, I discontinued selling balloons for releases, despite the risk to company revenue.
Fortunately, the local community applauded our decision and we received new business opportunities. I learned that businesses can be profitable while doing the right thing....now known as conscious capitalism.
2. What are you hopeful about right now?
Regardless of whether or not the U.S. pulls out of the Paris Accord, the rest of the world, U.S. corporations, local governments and NGO's are moving forward with investments in clean energy sources like wind and solar. In fact, Morgan Stanley estimates that renewable energy will represent the far majority of new energy production within the next several years. Renewable sources now represent a solid financial investment, even with recent federal solar panel tariffs. And, wind and solar are creating more new jobs than coal and gas. The transition to clean fuel is happening.
3. What is one thing that is holding the state or local community back from greater progress?
Education, upfront investment costs, and a sense of urgency.
Many are not aware the financial benefits of installing solar on residential rooftops. And, some solar installers can provide low cost financing which allows homeowners to reduce out-of-pocket costs.
In terms of sense of urgency, many coastal communities and parts of the U.S. west coast are experiencing extreme weather events like storms, flooding, drought and wild fires. And, once experienced, those communities start a much more rigorous discussion about climate change and ways to reduce carbon emissions.
Locally, the extreme weather events have been less pronounced and have not negatively impacted our immediate community. I hope that our community realizes that we are part of a larger eco system and that we need to immediately do our part to reduce emissions.
4. What is a climate action personally or professionally that you are proud of?
In terms of personal action, six years ago, Sigora Solar installed solar panels on our home. Last year, we decided to participate in a community solar project and wind offsets through Arcadia Power. Now, we are 100% renewable energy for our home electric needs.
In terms of professional responsibility, when I joined Plow and Hearth as President in 2011, we formally organized a sustainability team to help foster a corporate culture of responsibility. In the years that followed, we significantly reduced our packaging waste, increased our recycling efforts, and enhanced education related to "waste free" lunches at work. Not only did we reduce our carbon footprint, we improved profitability along the way thorough the reduction of packaging and energy waste.
We also did a major office and warehouse lighting retrofit in our Corporate Office in Madison, VA which saved us over $90,000 annually and earned us the Better Business Challenge Champion Award.
5. What is one thing folks can do today to help reduce climate pollution?
Install solar panels on your home. Or, if you are a renter or cannot install solar panels, consider programs like Arcadia power where you can participate in community solar or wind offset programs.
6. This is challenging work! What is your favorite way to recharge and rejuvenate?
I am a passionate trout fly fisherman. I try my best to take a couple trips a year to explore the cold, wild rivers of the mountain west.