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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Living Green Now: Making a Difference Every Day

Mar 31, 2011 11:08AM

“Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) believes it is unacceptable for people to drink and get behind the wheel,” states Terry Black, owner of Northbrook’s Living Green Now, an eco-consulting and green products company. “It is just as unacceptable to me to accept the toxins and pollutants that are forced on us. We all need to be aware of it. Change is not going to come from the top down. It’s going to change from the bottom up, from all of us making a difference.”

Black has a history of paying attention to environmental issues. What started as an interest in college developed into a lifelong passion that allows him to mix business and personal pursuits in his efforts to bring positive change to his community. He helped found the first Indianapolis Earth Day, and was also actively involved in Indiana energy and environmental policy issues. Today, he is on a self-proclaimed mission to change the paradigm of how people in the Chicago area think about their environment.

Black’s career started in the world of film, commercials and television. After opening his first production company in 1980, he produced corporate media, arts documentaries and children’s television programming that focused on social issues such as AIDS and conflict resolution. This experience taught Black valuable skills in fund-raising and outreach, and earned him an EMMY award.

Then in 2001, his world was shaken. Black’s wife died in January of that year, leaving him with two high school-aged children to care for. After the events of September 11, Black knew his business would soon change drastically and he needed to be prepared. “I lost 60 percent of my business in the next six months,” he recalls. “With my kids in school, I had to figure out something pretty quickly.” The world was suddenly different, and he knew that energy issues would take center stage. Black tapped his interest in renewables and began working at a solar products company, setting up dealerships across the country. By 2006, he noticed that many of his retail clients were opening local “green” stores to reach out to environmentally minded consumers. The idea made sense to him.

“Even as the economy was slowing, I saw some business models with incredible growth curves,” says Black. “So in Indianapolis, in the 49th-greenest state in the country, we started GreenWay Supply. We grew about 80 percent each year. It was going the complete opposite way of the overall economy.” Black soon learned what makes a green business successful: finding innovative products and suppliers, properly framing the message, being a green advocate and constantly educating both employees and consumers. He reached out to media, and soon was regularly featured on Indianapolis news programs, offering short spots about renewable energy, product demos and money- and energy-saving tips. “We offered a way to feel better and live healthier for less money,” he says.” When you teach people how to get on the path to greener living, they keep on going. We were very successful because of the time I spent educating people. The process built relationships and trust.”

In early 2010, Black and his business partners decided to pursue other interests and Black left GreenWay Supply. Intent on moving back to his native Illinois and continuing his path, he began building a new company that focused on eco-consulting and product sales. In June, he opened Living Green Now, which, he says, “helps people get on the green path.” Living Green Now offers home and business energy and green consultations, as well as recommendations for health-minded pet owners and new mothers. Carefully chosen and tested “green” and healthful products are available in his e-commerce store, (LivingGreenNow.Biz). Black also has created an alternative energy division for the solar projects he is conducting.

Believing that education is the best way to teach people about their choices, Black has personally trained and now employs seven eco-consultants, with 10 more in his development program (with many additional positions still to be filled). Black says he will soon be able to show the results of Living Green Now’s efforts through the company’s website. In development is a means by which he’ll present data-tracking on such factors such as C02 reduction and energy- and cost-savings effected by the changes his customers have made. “Small steps can have a big impact if a lot of people do them.”

Black speaks enthusiastically about the effects he feels his new company will have on people’s lives. “I’ve tried to give back to the community all my life,” he says. “Now I am able to do it in my work. I’m able to merge principles and profits into a business, producing lots of opportunities to make positive changes and I don’t have to separate the two. This business is the most exciting thing I’ve ever been involved in. We are making a difference every single day in people’s lives.”

He adds that he feels he’s filling a void that no one else has filled so far. “The rest of the world is starting to catch up,” he says. “We’ve had all these warnings for all these years, and some of us have paid attention, and some of us have not. I have paid attention.”

Living Green Now, 425 Heuhl, Suite 19A, Northbrook 60062. For more information, call 847-282-0031 or visit