The South has always had its own breed of environmentalism, says Daniel Rickenmann, who is a Columbia city councilman in the very red state of South Carolina.
"Most of the people who do a lot for the environment are sportsmen, hunters, and fisherman."
The key to getting people on board, Rickenmann believes, is showing them that there's a strong business argument tied to green practices. Rickenmann has a business background himself, having worked in the restaurant industry for 15 years.
Recently, he helped start a company called Waste2Energy that aims to build a device called an anaerobic digestor that can break down waste from restaurants into usable compost. Rickenmann says local businesses have already committed 24,000 tons of food waste, which should generate 7,000 tons of organic compost for local farmers to use.
Businesses respond favorably to this kind of waste-reduction effort, regardless of political affiliation, he says.
"I think it is becoming an everyday business decision," Rickenmann says. Over the past six months, he says he visited two dozen local businesses, from food manufacturers to packing companies, "and everywhere, the buzzwords were 'zero waste.'"
"It doesn't matter what side of the spectrum it is, everybody's moving that way," Rickenmann says.