The Ashkin Group, Bloomington, Ind., has become a founding member of the New Earth Fund, a nonprofit, global-funding organization. The organization helps improve the lives of people worldwide by working with businesses and individuals to develop and finance community-driven social, economic, and environmentally responsible programs.

"New Earth provides support, resources, information, and fresh ideas from members worldwide to help these programs take root and blossom," says The Ashkin Group President, Stephen Ashkin.

Earthly Goals

"When we started New Earth, our goal was to let consumers know that buying certain products, and not others, could help improve the world, and address two very pressing problemsÑpoverty and the environment," says Greg Norris, a founding member of New Earth, who is also with the Harvard School of Public Health and program manager for the United Nations' Environment Program. "Since then, we've learned that what is most important is to help empower peopleÑwith information, funding, and most of all, the hope that comes with knowing they're part of a movement for positive change."

New Earth chairperson, Bob Berkebile, also a founder of the American Institute of ArchitectÕs Committee on the Environment and a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council, elaborates, "New EarthÕs vision is improving communications and sharing ideas and resources globally. Our sense of global community increases simultaneously. It is the creativity and participation of members like The Ashkin Group that make the New Earth vision a reality."

Ashkin believes Norris and Berkebile are visionaries, adding, "These leaders are the type of people Margaret Mead was referring to when she said, ÔNever doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.Õ"

Tie to Green Cleaning Ultimately, the goal of Green Cleaning as well as New Earth is to help produce a healthier world and environment, according to Ashkin.

"Currently we are developing a plan to build soap factories in third world countries where the soap can help protect public health," he says. "And, at the same time, we are connecting them with U.S. distributors, manufacturers, and retailers who can sell their products, creating revenues that help these people build a healthy local economy."

Ashkin adds that he hopes others in our industry will also join, "as it is a great opportunity to work with some amazing people and make a meaningful difference all around the world."