The Earthy Report is the personal blog of John Vlahakis, a lifelong advocate for the environment, entrepreneur and community activist. He is the founder of Earth Friendly Products, a manufactuer of cleaning products that are safe for you, your home and the environment.
John has been an advocate for the environment since childhood, constantly looking for ways to raise public awareness about the links between our health and the health of our planet.
In seventh grade, John and his classmates painted paper bags with environmental slogans and stood on street corners to pass them out to motorists. After the police arrived and stopped them, they took their case to the village board. John and his friends convinced the board to let them continue distributing the bags. This experience served as a catalyst for his environmental activism and was a building block for his motto: One by one, we can change the world.
In 1980, John graduated from Northwestern University with a BS in communication studies and political science. He joined the family business, Venus Laboratories, Inc., a manufacturer of industrial cleaning products. He later attended Northwestern’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, which helped him hone his entrepreneurial skills. He graduated from Kellogg in 1985 with a Master of Management degree in marketing, transportation and organizational behavior.
In 1990, John applied his education and experience in the family business to his interest in the environment. Under Venus Labs, he launched environmentally safe cleaning products to the industrial and institutional marketplace. While that generated some interest, the mainstream consumer was still missing from the environmental equation.
After the birth of his daughter, the pieces fell into place for John and his passion for the environment was re-energized.
“I had an epiphany,” John said. “As I held my infant daughter, I did not want any harm to come to her. I realized that everything that was harming the environment would also be harming her. I felt I had to make a difference for her, to make the world a better place for her. I had to show her that one person could change the world.”
In 1993 he launched Earth Friendly Products and decided to sell his products in the retail arena. He started with just four non-toxic cleaning products.
“Basically, I became a traveling salesman, going to independent grocery stores and natural health food stores, trying to sell this product line,” recalls John.
His first account was Treasure Island in Chicago. Today Earth Friendly Products boasts over 60 items with international distribution.
Throughout the company’s growth, John has been supported by his wife, Stephanie, and his three children. All family members took up the interest in the environment when they were building their new, environmentally friendly house several years ago, especially when selecting non-toxic paints and other building materials.
Among John’s personal interests are prairie preservation and historical railroad preservation. He also has served on the board of the Hellenic Foundation for six years. In 1999 he was invited and approved to become a member of the prestigious Social Venture Network, an elite business organization of social activists, dedicated to advancing socially responsible businesses.
The excellent image of the earth and skyline that is used on earthyreport.com is by Akshay Moon and is used under a Creative Commons license.