Earth Day is here, and you are no doubt happy to celebrate the beautiful planet we all inhabit.
You do your part, and every step you take contributes to the greater good. But what about the businesses we frequent?
The impact of one business can be that of 10 or even 100 households. We should be rewarding the businesses who think like we do, and holding accountable the ones who blatantly disregard the condition of this planet in the selfish interests of their profit margins.
So on this Earth Day, I’d like to highlight a few local businesses that operate responsibly and can set the example for the rest.
First, I’d like to point out that although the City of Philadelphia collects recycling from the residential segment of our population, it doesn't pick up recycling from businesses.
Main Street in Manayunk alone produces hundreds of thousands of beer, wine and liquor bottles every year that are being mixed right in with the trash and put into a landfill. Though the city does not pick up for free, there are ways that these restaurants could recycle–even for free.
They simply choose not to go through the trouble or moderate expense. Just thought you should know. If everyone who read this article simply called or emailed the manager/owner of their favorite spot, I bet we could get some of them to start recycling.
Now for the praise.
RETAIL: RE-SELL AND DONATIONS KEEP STUFF OUT OF LANDFILLS.
Did you know that more than 24,000 pounds of clothing ends up in landfills every year? There are businesses that can help you to not contribute to this pile. You can donate clothing (and furniture, shoes and household items) to places like the Salvation Army or Community Thrift, or you can consign clothing at places like the Attic or Vamp. You can also consign high-end furniture at DIGS.
Main Street Music will buy CDs and Albums for cash or store credit. And there are all sorts of things you can do with your books. You can trade them for store credit at the Spiral Bookcase–a new, used book store just off Main Street; donate them to the Salvation Army for resale; or donate them to the YMCA’s used book exchange, or INTERAC, or any nursing home. A lot of those seniors would be happy to receive new reading material.
So whether you want to sell or donate your stuff, or buy something “new-to-you," thrift and consignment stores are an eco-friendly no brainer. Not to mention, a great option during financially tight times. I’ve seen all sorts of name brand stuff come through the "Salvy."
2 More Noteworthy Retailers
The Little Apple’s tagline is “New, Vintage, Repurposed." It is a darling shop filled with eco-friendly gifts, jewelry, art and household odds and ends. The jewelry is all handmade, and much of it is made by local artists. There are dozens of items that are made out of recycled materials, or vintage updates, and they recently added a handmade line of baby gifts. This store is what Martha Stewart would look like, green.
Orbit Gallery is as green as it gets. Just walk in and talk with the owner and you’ll get “schooled” in the matter. They recycle everything. Ninety five percent of their art is American-made, and 50 percent of their art is from artists within five miles of the shop. They also host art that is made out of recycled materials, and work with a program that uses recycled bicycle parts for sculptures. That’s especially cool in our bike loving neighborhood.
GREEN SERVICE PROVIDERS
McGovern & Associates is an accounting firm constantly updating it knowledge of green incentives made available by the government to individuals and businesses. So, if you’re looking for tax credits for getting those new energy efficient windows or state and federal grant programs to do so, McGovern & Associates is the place to go.
Kevin Haslam – Systems Integration Contractor. Home Automation is great tool in creating an energy efficient home or business. There are dozens of ways to outfit a house to make it more energy efficient. Kevin handles all the technology needs of home and business, including security cameras you can view on your iPhone, home theater design and installation, whole house automation, with energy efficient appliances and equipment, wireless computer networking and power efficiency consultation.
Purepoint Water Systems is the way to go if you don’t want to drink water straight from the tap. Frankly, the bottled water industry is raping our natural water resources, damaging the communities in which they operate, and charging us for something that is quite clean out of our taps. The plastic bottles used to give us the supposedly cleaner water are leaching carcinogens back into it, and the process of making those water bottles requires oil. Having a Purepoint Water System installed in your home or business gives you the peace of mind of cleaner water, saves you money in the long run over plastic bottles, and spares the landfills of all that plastic waste.
Viridian Energy. Viridian Energy is one of the power providers to PECO. Viridian is the only power provider in the PECO market that provides 20 percent green power to all of its customers, without charging extra for it. If you sign up for Viridian Power, you save money on your Peco Bill, and receive 20 percent of your power from a Lancaster wind farm. If you have the means to spend about one cent more per kilowatt hour, you can get 100 percent of your power from wind. That’s huge, considering anyone paying extra through PECO’s retail plan for wind is only getting 11 percent wind energy. Viridian also provides a free fundraiser to nonprofits. You can sign up for Viridian power for your home or business with either of these links, and $2 per month will be paid to Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School for as long as you remain a PECO/Viridian customer.
CHEERS TO A FEW GOOD RESTAURANTS
Now that I’ve slammed most bars and restaurants for not recycling, I will cheer for the ones who do.
The Couch Tomato Café leads the pack in a true commitment to running a green business. The yummy pizza shop and salad bar recycles all of its cardboard, glass, plastic and metal. They pay extra for part of their electricity to come from wind farms, (unless they’ve signed up with Viridian), and they installed a high efficiency HVAC system and appliances. On top of all that, they buy as much of their produce as possible from local farms to cut down on the fuel expended to bring their fresh, healthy foods to your pallet.
Though last I checked, Dereks does not recycle bottles and plastics, they do recycle all their oil to heat a local farmer’s greenhouse, and to run a bio-diesel car. Furthermore, they are committed to buying sustainably farmed, local produce, locally farmed chicken from Lancaster County, and sustainably fished seafood.
Kildares boasts of a “very large recycling plan” but has yet to implement anything. A plan is worthless until it is put into action, folks.
Mango Moon Thai Restaurant recycles glass bottles and plastic bags. That’s a good start. They also purchase from local farmers, (though the percentage is unclear), and use ingredients from their own garden. Now that is cool.
Mugshots Coffee is another true Green establishment. Not only do they recycle everything possible, and use Wind energy in their electricity mix, they only sell fair trade, organically grown coffee and tea. That is a huge deal. Why? Well, you can do some research to learn about modern slavery and human trafficking that basically defines the coffee, tea, and chocolate industries. So it’s an act of humanitarianism to buy coffee, tea and chocolate that is labeled “Fair Trade Certified." Purchasing those products labeled “organic” is also fairly safe because little to no slavery has been found associated with organic farms.
So what can you do to encourage more businesses to make green efforts? Put your money where your heart is, for one thing. Write a few emails to the owners or managers of the restaurants and businesses you like, and encourage them to start a recycling program. Every business has something they can be recycling, whether it’s the cardboard boxes that their retail clothing is shipped in, or beer bottles and soda cans.
When we all do a little, it adds up to a lot.