Chicago, April 11 -- Former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman told a group of about 500 kitchen and bath professionals that sustainability is both good for business and good for the environment.

"People believed that business prosperity and environmental prosperity were mutually exclusive," said Todd Whitman, a former Republican governor of New Jersey. "But now they recognize that responsible environmental practices can be good business practices."

Todd Whitman, the keynote speaker at the annual Kitchen/Bath Industry Show, said Americans once believed that the government had to take care of environmental issues because they were so enormous. But now they recognize every individual can have an impact. She noted that one of the easiest ways consumers can help the environment is to buy Energy Star-rated appliances and Water Sense fittings and fixtures.

"[People] recognize that responsible environmental practices can be good business practices," Christine Todd Whitman told attendees at the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show.
Trent and Co. "[People] recognize that responsible environmental practices can be good business practices," Christine Todd Whitman told attendees at the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show.

But energy and water reductions equate to saving for homeowners, too, said Todd Whitman, now a consultant who drives a Prius. An Energy Star-rated refrigerator can save a household $45 to $65 in utility costs per year, while an Energy Star-rated dishwasher would shave another $25 per year. In addition, an Energy Star-rated range hood can reduce utility bills by $125 over the life of the product. Todd Whitman told the enthusiastic group that the biggest environmental issue facing the world is safe and adequate drinking water, and that 1.2 billion people worldwide lack them. She also said the problem is hitting home. "We turn on the tap and assume we are going to get clean water. That is an assumption that has become less and less certain."

She claimed that replacing a single older toilet with a Water Sense-qualified model would save a family 4,000 gallons of water per year. And if every American household replaced a faucet or toilet with a Water Sense product, the nation would save 60 billion gallons of water annually.

Although energy-saving and natural products often cost more than standard wares, their prices are beginning to fall as demand rises and as more manufacturers produce them, she said.

Todd Whitman encouraged the kitchen and bath pros to explain to their clients why green products are important not only to the environment, but to their families. "I was most successful when the public saw it was the right thing to do and that it made economic sense."