One of my wisest friends is encouraging her son to skip college and learn a trade. Her thinking: living a sustainable lifestyle means growing your own vegetables and fruits, baking your own bread, and fixing your own pipes. Her hopes and dreams were eerily foreshadowing of the great national kerfuffle over Joe the Plumber. Now everyone's thinking about plumbers. And seriously: learning a trade instead of pouring tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into college (often to get jobs that pay tiny wages; raise your hands publishing assistants, private high school teachers, and social workers!) makes financial sense. Not only are plumbers, electricians, and general contractors recession-proof careers, you're paid while you're training. What could be better?

This week, it seems, everyone's thinking about plumbers:
  • Even better than being a plumber? Being a green plumber. You'll make more, and you'll be set to take advantage of the dollars flowing toward services that are eco-conscious. Treehugger calls green plumbing "one of the hottest new jobs in the green economy." Green Plumbers must take a 32-hour class for accreditation.
  • The New York Times' Green Inc. blog asks if "Joe the Solar Guy" may not be a better Everyman for the next four years. The newest addition to the well-paid trades?
  • Carl Schramm, CEO of the Kauffman Foundation, says that we need Joe the Plumber's dream. It's the plumbers who maintain our "entrepreneurial ecosystem." Huh.
  • Let's not forget, however, to save money and water by taking five-minute showers. Or going extreme and take a "Navy shower," soaping up with the water off and turning it on just to rinse.
  • Plumbers have another green leg up over the common man: no 'fecaphobia.' (The fear of poo, natch.) Shouldn't plumbers be cool with composting toilets? As Chris Schille at Sustainablog points out, composting toilets must be the future of plumbing. But don't tell the plumber's union or the water bureau: you can make your own composting toilet, as Schille and his commenters point out. (Do tell my husband, though, I have an idea this'll take some convincing...)
  • And if you do decide to be a plumber, you might want to start calling yourself "Joe". It'll save on marketing!

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