“Optimism is a good characteristic, but if carried to an excess, it becomes foolishness. We are prone to speak of the resources of this country as inexhaustible; this is not so.”
— President Theodore Roosevelt, Seventh Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1907

If you're green around the gills about how green trucking is and how green trucking should be and how green equals green, then you must be green with envy that anyone who worked in this industry not even five years ago could go for days, months and years without ever entertaining a single green thought in their head. On the other hand, as sure as the sun is in the sky, there is nothing new under it, not the least environmentalism.

Over 100 years have now passed since that most audacious of Chief Executives, the indomitable “TR,” first hoisted the green banner in the White House. It was called “conservation” back then.

It took years of education for the message of Teddy and his fellow turn-of-the-century conservationists like John Muir to even start to seep in. Then along came Rachel Carson in the early '60s with her seminal work Silent Spring, which eloquently sounded the alert that better living through chemistry was not the optimum means for keeping our world alive and thriving.

From there, things started to pick up a bit, with the birth of Earth Day and the EPA, not to mention the Superfund that would fix all the Love Canals out there. Yet there were still to be years and years of people talking greenspeak — but very few doing much about it. Then, seemingly out of the blue, global warming was upon us and seen by billions as kicking the-you-know-what out of good old Mother Earth.

Now, even in the face of global terrorism and war being waged on two continents and a very shaky economic picture, Americans — and, more to the point, American businesses — are fundamentally embracing and acting on the inherent right to greenness that has always been our birthright in this most exquisite of lands.

Come on, accept it — even embrace it as the Lorax first did those Seussian trees back in 1971. Being green is good for all us, including our wallets if we are smart about it. Yet despite the wholesale greening of America now well under way, I don't think everyone in trucking realizes the many ways running green can pay off for a truck fleet.

There are the immediate savings, of course. The obvious example is the more fuel-efficient a fleet is, the more money it saves and the less it damages the environment — the very definition of a win-win deal if you ask me.

But there is so much more to tap into if you keep your eyes peeled for the green. Take tax breaks for buying hybrid vehicles. Just the other day, a brand-name financial services firm sent out a media alert stating that it would help its fleet customers make sure they collected every penny due them for running hybrids and would do so at no extra charge.

Now why would they do that? Because green business is good business. In this case, they're building goodwill with customers while at the same time burnishing their own credentials as a green corporate citizen for all the world to see.

And make no mistake, that angle on being green will only grow. If it's not happening already somewhere in these United States, I would not be the least surprised to learn that environmentally committed shippers are demanding their carriers show their green card as well. Green for the green. What's not to like?