Program helps Walla Walla-area businesses cut costs, raise profile

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Many local businesses are leading the way in conserving resources and making our valley a sustainable living area. If you would like to gain recognition for your environmentally sound business practices and reduce operating costs, the $mart Business Partner Program can evaluate your business and suggest ways to implement simple practices that will accomplish both.

The program is sponsored by a partnership of four local organizations: (Sustainable Living Center; Downtown Walla Walla Foundation; Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce; and the Walla Walla Area Resource Conservation Committee) and is funded by a public participation grant from the state Department of Ecology.

The program is a free advisory service that focuses on reducing the use of toxic materials, conserving resources and helping businesses reduce costs.

The program publicly recognizes businesses for their efforts to become sustainable by setting environmental goals. A technical representative can visit businesses on-site to assist in setting and achieving goals that will reduce energy use, water use, toxic material use, waste, and purchasing costs.

Decals depicting the Walla Walla Valley Green Business Seal are awarded to participating partners to display so consumers know where to shop green.

Several examples of partners include:

Cartridge World, at 221 E. Main St. Cartridge World takes back spent cartridges and uses the functioning parts to manufacture new cartridges. Damaged parts are recycled. Their current operations include reducing waste by expanding use of electronic records, conserving energy by conferencing via telephone or Internet to save fuel, conserving water by using low flow toilets, and recycling aluminum, cardboard, paper, toner printer cartridges, electronic equipment and pallets. Cartridge World has set future goals to buy more biobased and recycled content materials for both shop use and as items for sale to customers.

Four Feathered Sparrow, at 120 E. Birch St., has been opened recently with the intent of practicing smart purchasing from the beginning. As the space was being renovated, no paint containing volatile organic compounds was used. Local alder wood was used for the floors and antiques or gently used equipment was purchased. Cloth towels are used instead of paper and all utensils are durable. Four Feathered Sparrow is a member of the National Association of Eco-Friendly Salons & Spas.

Book and Game, at 38 E. Main St., is committed to promoting environmental stewardship in all areas of management. Book and Game recycles cardboard, stripped books, beverage containers, packing peanuts and bubble wrap.

Call Me Inc. (AT&T), 11 W. Alder St., employs an excellent practice of recycling and reuse. They collect phones and provide them to organizations such as shelters. Additionally, they provide excess packing materials to other businesses.

We're all in this together, and we all have a stake in becoming more efficient stewards of our limited resources.

Businesses that would like to join in these efforts to improve our local environment and become more sustainable can contact the program, receive a guide and be contacted by a representative who will help determine how best to meet program criteria.

Jerry Owens is the technical representative for the $mart Business Partner Program. He can be reached at geraldowens2@gmail.com or 525-0850, ext.105.

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