Green Spotlight: Stemach Design + Architecture

Maybe you haven’t heard of Stemach Design + Architecture, but chances are you’re familiar with The Restore, Immersion Brewing, Spoken Moto, The Bite in Tumalo, La Pine Community Health Center, and 10 Barrel Brewing’s Galveston Pub. Well, these are just a few of the projects that Stemach Design has worked on around Central Oregon. A few weeks ago, we sat down with Rachel and Stacey Stemach, Owners and Architects, to learn more about their firm’s dedication to sustainability.

Stemach Design, founded in 2013, is conveniently located in the Box Factory – which is also one of their current projects, as the area gets renovated to accommodate new tenants and a pedestrian promenade. Their office space is beautifully designed, as you would imagine. But it’s also super efficient, with a ductless heat pump and operable skylights and windows to heat and cool the office. Most days, bikes can be found in the front entryway, as employees are encouraged to bike to work and participate in Commute Options programs. On days when Stacey and Rachel don’t bike, they drive their all-electric vehicle to the office.

It’s immediately clear that they both care deeply for Central Oregon and wish to contribute to a sustainable, vibrant community. Sustainability efforts are intrinsic to who they are. It’s seen in their personal lives, how they operate their business, and in the designs they provide for clients. They lead by example, and it’s helped them carve out a unique niche here in town. (For those of you who attended Green Drinks at Stemach Design in July 2017, you got to see first-hand the passion and energy that’s stirring within this firm!)

Rachel grew up in Bend, so she’s witnessed the consistent growth and development in our region. This inspired her to become an active Historic Landmark Commissioner, who helps property owners preserve historically and architecturally significant buildings and districts.

Stacey plays a role in city planning at the micro and macro levels. He’s helped advise on the future of Bend’s sewer system and on the recent urban growth boundary expansion. He’s also currently involved in the new Bend Central District Initiative, which is building momentum for a mixed-use neighborhood with safe connections between east and west Bend.

Ultimately, they both want to see a more walkable and bikeable community, and for homes and businesses to be built in a way that encourages solar and smart growth for Bend. And they’re actively engaging in our community to help make this happen.

Stemach Design works mostly on commercial projects. They do a few residential projects – mostly home additions and remodels. When they’re involved in new construction, they first and foremost consider how the building is connected to the site. They try to leverage solar orientation, build a tight envelope, and design energy-efficient systems throughout the project. Stacey talked about the importance of ‘making little tweaks’ wherever possible, so that the end product is more efficient and healthy than the client may have even planned for. In addition, Stemach Design is knowledgeable about all the available incentives through Energy Trust of Oregon, and helps coordinate these rebates on behalf of their clients.

We asked both Stacey and Rachel about what drives them to be green.

“I want to leave our community better for the future,” said Rachel.

“I want to tread lightly and have a smaller footprint,” said Stacey. “Which means I have to apply my values to everything we do here at the firm. We have to walk the talk.”

So, what’s on the horizon? They’re busy to say the least, working on the expansion of Crux Fermentation Project, On Tap (a new food truck lot in NE Bend), a historic rehabilitation of the Tetherow Homestead in Redmond, and remodeling Ruffwear into a new co-working space for the outdoor industry.  Visit Stemach Design’s website (and follow them on social media) to learn more and see some of their beautiful work!

Green Spotlight: Cascade Financial Strategies

Last week, we met with Jack Schniepp and Neal Richards at Cascade Financial Strategies. This duo is located in an office near the Old Mill, and extends financial planning and investment management services to all of Central Oregon. CFS occupies a unique niche in our community – one that not only sets them apart from other financial planners, but also lands them in our Green Spot Directory!

If you’re unfamiliar with Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), here’s a quick breakdown. SRI is an investment strategy that analyzes investments on their social merits in addition to their return and economic merits. CFS is the only firm in Central Oregon that is a member of the US/SIF, The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment. This means they’re able to help clients choose investments that align with their values – whether that’s around company ethics, environmental issues, human rights, or more. During our discussion, Jack emphasized that this type of strategy can generate long-term financial returns AND positive societal impact. In today’s world, you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other; it can be a true win-win.

Over the course of his career, Jack said that he’s seen an increased interest in SRI throughout our community, which is reflective of what’s happening on a national and even international scale. To share what they’ve learned, Jack and Neal maintain a really great resource in the form of a blog at, which shares educational information on this investment strategy.

The story of Jack’s approach to investment management is a really great one. His children, teenagers at the time, really enjoyed chocolate bars. Eventually the topic of fair trade and non-fair trade practices was brought up, specifically around chocolate brands and where the cocoa came from. Jack found himself under scrutiny from his kids in regards to which companies he engaged with on behalf of his clients. So he began researching SRI to see if this made sense for his clients – and for the world, too. This sparked a new interest and passion, and it didn’t take long for Jack to become an expert on what is now called ‘impact investing.’ In 2013, Jack left Wells Fargo to work independently and start CFS.

I had a lot of fun chatting with Jack and Neal, and it was apparent they both value a sustainable lifestyle and a healthy community. I was excited to learn that Jack commutes to work via bicycle, and Neal gets around (and transports his kids) via a pretty impressive electric scooter. Check this thing out!

If you’re interested in learning more about this local Green Spot, and about SRI, Jack will be holding a seminar here at The Environmental Center on Thursday, November 16th @ 4pm. (RSVP here) During the workshop, Jack will walk attendees through an impact assessment. This tool can tell you how well your current portfolio matches your own personal values, and which companies or investments you own that don’t line up with SRI guidelines. If you’d like to check this out for yourself in advance, you can also sign up for an impact assessment on the CFS website.

Stay tuned for more Green Spot blogs, where we’ll highlight sustainable, local businesses in our community.

Green Spotlight: Windflower Farm

This month, TEC made a visit out to Windflower Farm, a beautiful 20-acre farm located just 15 miles east of Bend. Windflower Farm is dedicated to growing gourmet-quality vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers. It’s also home to Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) livestock, including laying hens, dairy goats and heritage pigs.

The farm has been a Green Spot for many years. In fact, they use The Environmental Center as their central drop-off location for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares! We already knew that the farm, owned and managed by Gigi Meyer, practices sustainable farming methods: no chemical herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers. But we wanted to take a tour of the property and learn a little more about Gigi, Windflower Farm, and what they offer the Central Oregon community.

Gigi has loved and felt connected to nature all of her life. When she started the farm in 2005, she really wanted to foster biodiversity on her land. This is evident in several ways. For example, the animals provide compost for growing healthy fruits and vegetables, and she uses goats to help control weeds. In 2009, Gigi acquired even more land next door – her father’s property – what she now calls the “North Farm.” She has been working more than 10 years to continually improve her soil, select the right seeds, and plant at just the right time. All of this careful calculation means she doesn’t need to use any amount of toxic chemicals. Plus she’s found that crop rotation and cover cropping help ensure a healthy and vibrant ecosystem.

Gigi and I walked the entire farm, which was the highlight of my week! She pointed out all sorts of delicious food including grapes and ‘dragon tongue’ beans; showed me beautiful floral arrangements on the way to Jackson’s Corner and Newport Market; and introduced me to her goats, chickens, horses and pigs. Along the way she would stop to water down compost piles, chat with her interns about that day’s harvest, and feed the pigs, who were digging up turnips and playing in the mud. I learned about companion planting, where plants are strategically placed together to help one another thrive (like marigolds and tomatoes). And we also saw several pollinators like giant bumblebees, enjoying all the colorful flowers interspersed throughout the land. It was really evident that everything on the farm was a piece of a larger system that worked together in harmony!

One of my first thoughts was that managing 20 acres is no easy task. I learned that Gigi works with Rogue Farm Corps to employ a few interns each growing season. In order to make sure this is a successful partnership, Gigi provides them with housing on the farm – a large house next to her own home, where each intern is in close proximity to work and other personal projects. (For example, one intern is currently raising ducks on the land!) Gigi also teaches an animal husbandry class for Rogue Farm Corps. I was really impressed with her dedication to passing on her knowledge to others.

“I want to be involved with and encourage the next generation of sustainable farming,” she said.

Gigi acknowledged that farming in the high desert has its challenges. However, she has invested a lot of time to find the best watering solutions for her needs while conserving as much as possible. She uses a combination of drip and overhead sprinklers, which either run super early at 4am or during overnight hours. Gigi is also dedicated to producing as little food waste as possible, and manages inventory so that they almost always sell out of product to regular clients and CSA. Some of her regular clients include Pronghorn Resort, Brasada Ranch, Central Oregon Locavore and Agricultural Connections. 

What Gigi has created is a great regional model for small-scale, biodiverse, farm-to-table agriculture. Windflower Farm gives locals the opportunity to participate in community supported agriculture, which helps to maintain socially responsible, environmentally friendly acreage right here in our own backyard. Plus, the farm contributes to the health of our community and provides meaningful employment for several of our fellow community members.

If you’re interested in supporting Windflower Farms while enjoying many organic foods, you can sign up for a full season or on-demand tote bag with fruits, veggies and herbs. Or, check out their raw milk herd share, egg CSA, and flower CSA. You can read more and sign up for these offerings at the Windflower Farm website. I also highly recommend that you keep Windflower Farm in mind for your upcoming special event or wedding! The floral arrangements I saw were AMAZING, and the flower bouquets dropped off here at The Environmental Center are extremely beautiful. 

Thanks to Gigi for showing me around the farm! Here are a few photos from the tour that day.

Green Spotlight: The Giggling Gardener

What does everyone love about Bend? The beautiful landscape and abundance of nature, of course! The outdoor playground of Central Oregon is known for its mountain vistas, expansive forests, and crystal clear lakes. Bringing wilderness into city limits is at the core of a local landscaping business owned by Jenny MacAulay – otherwise known as The Giggling Gardener. Her gardening and landscaping business is known for putting the environment first.

Jenny’s been gardening since she was little, working on her mother’s garden with five siblings, but didn’t fully realize her love for nature until she finished guiding in Baja California and Alaska. Wanting to continue working outdoors and helping the environment, she started her business in Bend in 2000 and partnered with John Luciano, who has been designing and building landscapes in Bend since 1995.

“No shortcuts!” she said to me when we discussed the values of her work.

They make sure to keep gardens clean by using vinegar and compost as opposed to pesticides and fertilizer. Keeping the big picture in mind, her gardens are composed of native plants, which keeps the soil happy and conserves water.

Jenny had some interesting information for me in regards to the landscaping business: “Green isn’t always green.”

Confused? She explained that sometimes landscapers and gardeners will use damaging chemicals to keep plants and grass green, and fossil-fuel powered machinery like mowers and blowers to make a garden neat and tidy. It’s no secret that maintaining a lush lawn here in Central Oregon is difficult and can use a lot of resources. So Jenny suggests a shift in perspective on how we manage these green spaces.

For example, we can accept that some weeds here and there is OK, as they are a sign of what’s happening in the soil and this provides helpful information. When you do need to get rid of some unwanted weeds, consider hand picking. In addition, we can consider improving soil with compost and grass-cycling – a practice where you leave mulched clippings on the lawn while mowing, thereby reducing the need for nitrogen fertilizer by 60%! Lastly, there’s usually an opportunity to reduce the size of a lawn, and perhaps building a native garden space instead. These types of landscapes help conserve water, and if designed correctly, can also help attract pollinators, too!  

You can see plenty of the Giggling Gardener’s work around town, and Jenny’s business is a quality example of incorporating green practices into an everyday businesses. From using environmentally-conscious materials to limiting driving, her business sets an example we can all learn from!

Green Spotlight: Humm Kombucha

From the early days as “Kombucha Mama” to ”Humm Kombucha” today, being sustainable and working to benefit the community has been an important part of operations at Humm. Among the many sustainability measures Humm has in place to maintain their status as a Green Spot Member, there are a couple things we’d like to highlight because they really speak to our mission to embed sustainability into daily life in Central Oregon.

May is Bike to Work and School month, and Humm encourages employees to participate by having weekly raffles for those who bike commute during the month. As part of their rapid growth – they went national this year, built a new facility, and expanded their staff – keeping a health oriented family feel has been a key component.  Humm wants their staff to choose healthy commute options when possible and to acknowledge when team members make choices that are better for the community and themselves.

Another great example of Humm’s commitment to sustainability is their investment in the growler culture. Every time you choose to fill a growler of kombucha, 4.5 bottles are diverted from the waste stream. From the beginning, Humm invested heavily in kegs with the intent of driving consumers to growler fill stations.

When we, here at The Environmental Center, say we “embed sustainability into daily life in Central Oregon” we are talking about inspiring people to make choices that reduce waste and pollution. Green Spot businesses are important because their practices can have impacts that reach large numbers of people. Whether it’s empowering employees to ride bikes to work or driving customers to the tap instead of the bottle, businesses have tremendous power to change individual behavior. Thanks to Humm Kombucha for being responsible with their influence.

Green Spotlight: Elemental Energy

Solar energy is the fastest growing power source in the world, with enough energy hitting the earth’s surface hourly to power mankind for a year. It provides clean power with no harm to the environment, and is so reliable that the first solar cell made in 1954 is still producing power to this day.

Locally owned and operated solar installation leader, Elemental Energy, provides this valuable power with a greater mission to critically address the way that society uses and thinks about energy. After graduating from Oregon Institute for Technology’s Renewable Energy Engineering program in 2010, founders John Grieser and Brandon Little traveled to Tanzania to install solar energy systems on schools, orphanages, and community centers. Inspired by this unique experience, the duo committed themselves to solar, spurring the birth of Elemental Energy and their dedication to providing creative energy solutions across Oregon and around the world. Today, Elemental Energy is expanding to meet the growing number of Oregonians, realizing the value of owning their own clean energy source.

It is this background that enables them to provide the highest quality systems and workmanship on every system with a strong eye toward aesthetics and creative solutions. We admire their knowledge and expertise, and especially like one of their core values, ‘kaizen.’  This value describes how the team practices continuous improvement, for themselves, the business, and the industry at large.

Not only does this company provide renewable energy sources to homes and businesses throughout Oregon, the same leadership also operates a sister nonprofit called Twende Solar (Twende means “let’s go” in Swahili). Twende is focused on bridging the gap between energy poor communities and renewable energy experts. By unifying the PV industry behind its global electrification efforts, Twende volunteers design and install renewable energy systems for schools, medical clinics, and community centers with limited or no access to electricity. It is easy to forget that throughout the world, one in five people are in the dark after the sun goes down. Without energy equality, we can never have a truly equal society. With this in mind, Twende Solar installs solar PV systems everywhere from Guatemala to Cambodia and is installing their first U.S. project this fall for the Portland Rescue Mission’s women’s shelter.

In January, Elemental Energy (founded in Portland) opened an office here in Bend, expanding opportunities for Central Oregonians to take advantage of the abundant sunshine we get year round. One of the things that makes Elemental Energy unique is the breadth of solar solutions they can provide from grid-tied to off-grid energy storage, residential to commercial and mobile.

When Four Peaks Music Festival asked if they could provide off-grid power, the Elemental team designed and built a mega solar trailer to both educate the masses about off-grid systems and power any large event with clean, silent energy from the sun!  With 6kW worth of beautiful bifacial modules and a 15 kWh lithium battery bank, the trailer provides over 40 kWh of usable power on a summer day. The addition of a large generator that can run on diesel, bio-diesel, or filtered vegetable oil means it can provide clean power day and night, rain or sunshine! The Solar Trailer is now housed at the DIY Cave and available for rent.

Laurel Hamilton, the Central Oregon Elemental Energy Operations Manager, spoke of the great energy (pun intended) here in Bend and how they’re looking forward to helping connect more people in this great community to clean solar power. So, if you’re looking to power your home, business, or car with the sun, contact Elemental Energy to make the transition in style.

VIDEO: Twende Solar: 26kW Solar PV Installation in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Green Spotlight: Baby Cakes Diaper Service

Saving the world one diaper at a time! That’s what you see when you first visit Baby Cakes Diaper Service’s website, and the company holds true to form. Run by Sara Holman, the mother of a young son, this company helps you reap the many, many benefits of cloth diapers without the mess! Baby Cakes delivers clean, reusable diapers and picks up dirty ones from your home. They’ll also provide accessories such as diaper pail liners, diaper covers, and wet bags, as well as an organic diaper option. There are even swim diapers, just in time for summer!

What makes Baby Cakes green? Well, cloth diapers are stinky environmental superheroes. Conventional diapers use precious natural resources to produce. After they’re used, they create more than 3.5 million tons of landfill debris annually in the U.S. Cloth diapers can be reused, so they cut down on waste. Organic cloth diapers result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce deforestation and water use. And while there’s little research that proves chemicals from conventional diapers are harmful to kids, cloth diapers help prevent diaper rashes because they’re changed more often, keeping your baby’s bum dryer and cleaner.

Not only are they good for the environment and your baby, they save money, too! Between infancy and toilet training, one uses approximately 7,000 disposable diapers, costing more than $1,500. With cloth diapers, you can reduce that cost by around $1,000, or you can use a diaper service and maintain the same cost. (Not to mention… look how cute the patterns are!)

Holman feels a strong drive to help the world around her, and knows this is a good way to make a difference. In addition to running Baby Cakes, she also works for GreenSavers USA, a local home performance contractor specializing in energy efficiency. Lately, she has been contacting local pregnancy centers to see if there is an opportunity for a partnership to offer cloth diapers at a discounted price. While she washes the diapers at a facility in Prineville using chlorine-free bleach, the business is run out of her home. She heats and cools her house with an efficient ductless heat pump and uses LED lighting, making the business even greener.

If you’re a new parent, try out Baby Cakes. Your baby will thank you for the fresh diapers now, and for a healthy, clean world in the future.

Check out this video of how the cloth diaper is used!

Green Spotlight: Broken Top Bottle Shop

According to Broken Top Bottle Shop (BTBS), they’re more than a brew pub – they’re a brew HUB! And we definitely found that to be true during our last check-in with the restaurant owner, Jennifer Powell.

BTBS first opened in 2012 and has become a locals’ favorite spot. Located on NW Pence Lane, the bottle shop offers craft brews, delicious food and a great selection of beverages to go. (I especially appreciate the great variety of vegetarian and gluten free options available on the menu.) They pour draft beer from a rotating 12-tap. In addition, a 12-door cooler is stocked with over 400 single bottles and cans of beer, cider, wine, mead, sake and nonalcoholic beverages. They provide options from all over the place, but always have a large selection from local Bend breweries.

The shop is a welcoming place to gather with friends and family. It’s also home base for several great community events, including fundraisers (right now they’re raising money for Bend Spay & Neuter Project), Pints and Politics (where you can learn about local political issues), and “Know Before You Go” avalanche awareness events. They have frequent live music, painting classes, and special occasion vegan meals. We are really impressed by these efforts, and appreciate that they provide a venue where important conversations can take place within our community.

What else makes them a sustainable business in Bend?

BTBS is a composting rock star! They’ve been participating in Bend Garbage & Recycling’s commercial composting program from day one. All new employees and servers are trained on how to compost properly, and Jennifer said that it’s a source of pride among the staff. They keep buckets around the prep area and all bussing stations to ensure that everyone’s contributing to the practice.

The restaurant also participates in Oregon Bottle Drop, a system for redeeming bottles and cans across our state. Jennifer fills up her truck once or twice a week and heads to the redemption center to return deposit containers. But instead of collecting a refund, she hands over the valuable recyclables to somebody who needs the money more. “It always makes me feel awesome!” she said. “It’s my good deed of the week.”

In our conversation, Jennifer mentioned that the business participates in Pacific Power’s Blue Sky renewable energy program. And I also learned that they’re willing to produce (and encourage) zero waste events whenever they are hired for catering, by providing compostable and/or reusable food ware.

We encourage you to check out BTBS for yourself – swing by for a beer after work, grab dinner with the family, or check out the next Pints and Politics event (every third Thursday of the month). We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

P.s. Fun fact! One of BTBS’s employees, Lauren, makes and sells upcycled dog leashes and collars made from old parachute cords. How fun is that? Check out ParaPup Designs!

Green Spotlight: Angelina Organic Skincare

This week, The Environmental Center team met with Angelina Swanson, Founder & Creative Director at Angelina Organic Skincare (AOS). Angelina’s business is located in a clean and bright shop in downtown Bend, where a small team of experts create small-batch natural face, bath, body and aromatherapy products. When you walk into the store, two walls of lovely glass bottles and a long table of essential oil blends greet you. There’s a sink at one end of the store where you can try out various soaps and cleansers, and open bottles throughout the store for everyone to sample. The whole experience is cheerful, and exploring the shop is fun and easy to navigate.

Aside from being a favorite stop for locals and tourists alike, Angelina is dedicated to sustainable business practices in many ways. She’s been in business for 17 years, and has always handled the manufacturing, retail and wholesale sides of the business herself. Her yoga background has guided her business philosophy of creating something without doing any harm. “Everything has a ripple effect,” she said. “With everything we do and every decision we make, we ask ourselves: Are we creating, or destroying?”

As I tour ‘behind the door,’ Angelina walks me through their small shipping department first. Everything is super well organized, and it’s clear they recycle everything possible. Paper is printed on both sides, and they even replaced traditional sticky notes with reusable jar lids. (So creative – we love this idea! Just use a dry erase marker.) It was neat to see that they reuse packaging materials from all packages they receive (mainly their ingredients) – from the cardboard boxes to various cushioning materials. My favorite part was the rubber stamp that says “Blatantly Recycled Packaging.” This is a fun way to let customers know they are recycling!

AOS has also implemented a customer bottle recycling program, where customers can return their empty glass bottle to the store. Angelina then brings the bottles home, where they are cleaned and sterilized (twice!) in her own dishwasher before being reused for new products. In 2016, over 2,500 bottles were put back in use thanks to this recycling program.

One of the first things you’ll notice about AOS products is their simple packaging. Each glass bottle or container is clear, which allows you to see the product inside (and many have beautiful, vivid colors). Packaging is important to AOS, as it needs to reflect the natural products and ingredients you’ll find in each formula. Recently, AOS recognized that the vinyl labels they’ve been using aren’t the best option anymore. Therefore, they are in the process of switching to recycled paper or BioStone labels. BioStone, a newer product, is made from stone. It’s fully compostable, including its adhesive, and is oil-resistant. So it’s a great fit for their packaging!

Angelina is committed to knowing her supply chain, from the ingredients to the bottles. She’s made conscious decisions throughout the years that allow her to source everything in a reliable, ethical way. She also tries to streamline her supply chain, acknowledging that the more steps and transfers that take place, the larger environmental footprint you leave behind. Sourcing is a big deal to AOS, and they try to work with local farmers as much as possible. For everything else, they search the world to find fair-trade farms and cooperatives that grow high-quality herbs, nuts and vegetables.

Like many business owners in Bend, Angelina does not own her building and is therefore limited in what she can do to reduce her carbon footprint. In order to do their part, AOS participates in Pacific Power’s Blue Sky Renewable Energy Program, which helps bring new renewable energy facilities on-line.

And a final fun fact about Angelina Organic Skincare? They still use a 100-year old cash register that doesn’t use electricity to operate. Not to mention it’s pretty unique and a great conversation starter!

Thanks for being a green business in Bend, Angelina Organic Skincare! Stay tuned for more stories of sustainable businesses in Central Oregon, and visit our Green Spot Directory for a list of other green spots in our community.


The following photos were provided by Angelina Organic Skincare. 

Green Spotlight: Strictly Organic Coffee Co.

Since they day they opened in 1999, Strictly Organic Coffee Co., as their name suggests, have been dedicated to sustainable business practices. Since they’ve been Green Spot members with The Environmental Center for many years, we thought we’d check in for an update.

Since their inception Strictly Organic’s dedication to organic, fair trade, and locally-sourced products has created business challenges but has also generated positive change. Co-owner Rhonda Ealy took some time out of her busy day to tell share some examples from the past and some exciting news.

Rhonda explained that one of the big challenges in the early days was finding organic milk. Their Bond street location alone uses 225 gallons of milk per week. However, prior to 2006 the only sources were local grocer’s like “Nature’s Market” or “Wild Oats” (ask a local). Our local milk distributor Eberhard’s didn’t carry any organic milk to sell at more competitive rates for high volume businesses like Strictly Organic. However, Strictly Organic worked to demonstrate that there was a demand and eventually Eberhard’s started bringing in Organic Valley products from Wisconsin.

This August, eleven years later, Eberhard’s will be selling a locally sourced organic milk from a Madras farm. I called and spoke to Bob Eberhard and he said the milk will also be available in Central Oregon grocery stores for retail purchase. The milk will come from a dairy farm in Madras.

For a businesses like Strictly Organic that have sustainability as a key component of their business model (for example, they deliver by bike locally), reducing the distance a product like milk travels is a really big deal. That’s about 1,900 fewer miles your milk has to drive to reach your latte’.

So, it’s worth recognizing that small businesses with strict standards that may fly in the face of conventional wisdom can have a big impact. Strictly Organic was one of the first 14 coffee roasters in the country to be 100% fair trade, and at another point, by chance, met someone who was producing compostable cups, lids and flatware for the military. When Rhonda said they wanted to use the products in their stores for retail, they helped launch the first consumer compostable product line.

One local business with a commitment to doing everything they can to be as environmentally friendly and as socially equitable as possible can make a big difference. Please remember to support your local Green Spot because they really do put your dollars to work.