Growing up in Sacramento, Debbie Williams spent a lot of time in nature and developed
a great respect and love for the great outdoors. She spent time hiking and fishing
the lakes and streams of the Sierra Nevada mountains with her Dad, summer camp in
Yosemite and countless weekends exploring Lake Tahoe. The drought in California in
the early 1970’s was Debbie’s first big lesson in water conservation and scarcity
of resources. It was then that she learned about recycling, composting and turning
off the water when she brushed her teeth.
While studying at U.C. Davis, Debbie read Limits to Growth, which had a profound
impact on her. The message was that population, agricultural production, natural
resources, industrial production and pollution all had a bearing on the growth and
survival of the planet, which then influenced and shaped her perspectives about resources
and the environment.
A lifetime of challenges with asthma and allergies has led Debbie to explore alternative
ways to stay healthy. She discovered that eating naturally and keeping her environment
as free of toxins as possible kept her healthier and happier. This awareness has
been reinforced the more time Debbie spends organic gardening.
William’s years working in the HMO industry taught her about corporate, employer
and personal responsibility and how interrelated they can be. Whether it is health
care, the environment, or resource management, they are all big topics with no right
answer, only the need for all parties to participate and to take responsibility if
there is to be change.
These experiences shaped Debbie and are why she co-created GreenSmart. She believes
that if we all make a lot of little changes to our habits and purchasing decisions,
collectively we will make a big difference.
As a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Tom Larsen grew up during an era of awareness
of the increasing smog, pollution and landfill encroachment of San Francisco Bay.
In his studies in architecture, Tom developed a holistic observational perspective
about the place where humans and nature interact, which went beyond buildings. He
migrated toward environmental sciences and eventually received a B.S. in Conservation
of Natural Resources at U.C. Berkeley.
The immediate years after graduation were spent working in the newly spawned energy
management industry and serving on the Board of the Association of Professional Energy
Managers. This was during a time when utilities in California introduced cutting
edge demand management incentives for commercial, industrial and residential customers.
Those implemented projects and all the others since, some 25 years later, are largely
responsible for the energy consumption in California to be 40% below the national
average. This experience set the foundation for the philosophy of GreenSmart that
the cumulative effect of small efforts can have a significant effect on the planet.
To Tom Larsen, it is not the one big thing, it is the thousands, in fact millions,
of little things that make a difference.
Tom Larsen President & co-Founder
Our mission is to offer bags that make you feel good. Any brand can make attractive
bags and be indifferent to the resources it takes to make them. GreenSmart is different.
GreenSmart cares. Using eco-friendly materials and socially responsible labor are
two of the most significant ways we have to embed thoughtfulness into the design
of a bag. Who doesn’t want to see recyclable materials (plastic bottles) turned into
something functional and beautiful?
As Shoreline, we used to make bags from from polyester, neoprene and nylon. Back
in the 20th Century that was the only choice we had for durable fabrics. Along with
the new numbers, the 21st Century has offered great strides in material options for
bag-making and we try to utilize them exclusively. We hope that our commitment will
continue to delight consumers and make a difference.