Glen Gaskins says his bank account has "gone south," but his spirits have risen since he left the corporate world to educate children in environmental issues and advocate "environmental justice."
Mr. Gaskins says his nonprofit organization, Environmental Education Concepts Inc., is "not financially lucrative. But you can't enjoy anything more. I'm out of the corporate loop and don't have the corporate pressure and politics. I enjoy the shot of adrenalin I get listening to kids and hearing their enthusiasm."
The Long Reach village resident speaks to students, as well as businesses, about their roles in protecting the environment, and helps organize projects and educational trips.
In June, he served on a county schools committee that studied recycling lunch materials.
"Glen's insight was very valuable," said Mary Klatko, the committee's chairwoman and director of food and nutrition services. "He let us know what's going on in the rest of the country and what we could apply here."
Mr. Gaskins also leads children on trips to the Bahamas as a board member of Clean Islands International, a Maryland nonprofit organization that assists the islands on environmental projects and helps organize programs for the United Nations Global Youth Forum.
Last spring, he traveled to Colorado with 22 students, including five from Pointer's Run Elementary School in Clarksville, for a Youth Forum international environmental conference. He's helping to plan another one for Disney World.
"I think the kids are most important to Glen," says Joe Libertelli, who runs a Washington nonprofit environmental network and serves on Earth Day USA's planning committee with Mr. Gaskins.
"It seems to me he's given up a pretty lucrative career in the corporate world to focus on what he cares most about," he said.
The national Earth Day committee is planning the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, scheduled for April 22, 1995. Mr. Gaskins hopes to include "environmental justice" in the program.
The environmental justice movement emphasizes that social ills, such as poverty and violence, are part of the urban environment, and that the poor and minorities bear a disproportionate share of projects that cause pollution.
Mr. Gaskins says he wants to extend environmental programs into urban areas and is disturbed by a perception that minorities don't care about the environment.
"In the inner cities, they don't care about the spotted owl and streams when bullets are flying around," he says. "My platform is LTC that social issues are as much a part of the environment as ecological."
Mr. Gaskins, 48, is a Baltimore native and Vietnam veteran. While in the military, he played on the Continental Army football team, and later had a short stay on the Oakland Raiders' taxi squad and a tryout with the Washington Redskins as a wide receiver in 1970.
Eventually he entered the private sector, working for Honeywell Inc. in Tysons Corner, Va., as a manager for office buildings nationwide from 1976 to 1986, where he first learned that recycling could save money.
He started his own management consulting business, Gaskins Associates, in Alexandria, Va., in 1986.
He formed Innovative Recycling in 1990, with plans to run a recycling facility and encourage companies to recycle. But he quickly discovered he spent more time educating companies about recycling than collecting materials.
So last year, he channeled his efforts into creating Environmental Education Concepts, which raises money through grants from government and private organizations and Mr. Gaskins' consulting work.
He says he also discovered the difficulty of competing with large solid waste disposal companies.
"They have such a grip on the market in the area, a new person can't make an impact," he says. "You can't deal with them on a cost basis, or in the level of materials and services. Recycling is ugly from a business standpoint."