Jamaica Plain Businesses Learn to Reduce Carbon Footprints

Article originally posted by Jamaica Plain Patch.

The Sustainable Business Leader Program aims to provide a unique and affordable course of action that small to medium-sized, locally and independently owned businesses can follow to become more ecologically conscious. Under its umbrella organization, the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston, the program has certified over 55 local businesses, with another 46 in process.  Among the participating Jamaica Plain businesses are Ula Café, Harvest Co-Op, Red Sun Press, and City Feed & Supply.

The vision, according to Boston Program Marketing Coordinator Scott Wood, is to “create an economy that is local, green, and fair.” The program offers its low cost consulting services, he said, “to help business owners reduce their carbon footprint, and save money by reducing energy, water, and waste.”  Additional benefits that he cited include “an enhanced business image, competitive advantage, and a sense of pride and camaraderie among staff.”

The certification process, explained Wood, is initiated by completing an evaluation form assessing a business’s energy and water conservation, pollution prevention, waste reduction, transportation efforts, and sustainability management.  Subsequently, the program schedules a site visit, makes recommendations, and provides ongoing support.  The process, stated Wood, typically takes three to six months.  As a result of a grant the program received from the Barr Foundation, the subsidized cost to a business ranges from $400-$800.  The requirements, Wood stressed, “are not rigid and SBLP offers flexible payments."

Ula Café was one of the first JP businesses to be certified under the program.  Staffer Justin Dunk was the café’s eco-point person, and coordinated the restaurant’s efforts.  Among the changes that Ula made, it switched to recyclable utensils, soy veggie printing ink, energy efficient lighting, and green cleaners.  In a small raised garden bordering its parking lot, Ula has also planted cilantro and other herbs for use.  Korinn Koslofsky, who co-owns Ula Café along with business partner Kate Bancroft stated, “As business owners with a conscience it was something that we needed to do.”

Christopher Durkin, Harvest Co-Op’s Director of Membership and Community Relations, explained that the supermarket’s Cambridge store has been SBLP-certified, but due to its age, the JP store has not.  “It’s more of a challenge,” he noted.  The JP store, he said, “was retrofitted five years ago with better lighting.”  Harvest’s JP location also recycles its cardboard and plastic bags, and composts its food waste.  Durkin hopes to complete the certification process at some point in the future.  He stressed that Harvest’s new stores in the Fenway and near Forest Hills will be “green buildings.”  “We are good environmental stewards,” he stated.

Red Sun Press was certified three years ago, according to Business Manager Nancy Nichols.  The printing company, she said, had already made significant efforts to operate more sustainably like recycling paper and using fewer chemicals but she praised the SBLP program.  “We wanted to see what else we could do, she said. “It’s good to have benchmarks.”  Nichols said that Red Sun’s operating costs have gone down since the firm replaced its windows, wrapped pipes, and added motion detectors in the bathrooms.  “The tiny things that don’t cost anything,” she noted, “add up.”

On Saturday, May 7 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Sustainable Business Network of Boston (SBN) presents their 22nd Conference on Sustainable Business at U-Mass Boston.  The all-day event will explain practices and programs to make your business or organization green.  The closing keynote speaker is Bill McKibben of 350.org.  For more information, visit SBN's website, or e-mail adritha@sbnboston.org

On Monday, May 16 at 6 p.m., a "Cash & Training to Green Your Biz" workshop will be held at Eastern Bank, 687 Centre Street.   Sponsored by Eastern Bank, and co-hosted by the Hispanic-American Chamber of Commerce, ACCION USA, and the Sustainable Business Leader Program, "Cash & Training to Green Your Biz" is a free workshop for businesses.  Participants will lean how to save money and the other advantages that they can gain by making their businesses more environmentally-friendly.  (Information will be available in English and Spanish.)  Please RSVP by calling Katrina Kazda at 617-909-3027 or e-mail katrina@sbnboston.org.

email: sblp@sbnmass.org    |    phone: (617) 395-0250

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