Originally posted in the Monadnock Shopper News
While Monadnock Buy Local loves to promote the benefits of purchasing from locally owned businesses, we think it’s equally important to encourage businesses to adopt practices that are environmentally and socially responsible. We recognize that a strong financial bottom line is critical. However, we feel that focusing on the bottom lines of people and place is just as crucial.
How can we encourage Monadnock Region businesses to adopt a triple bottom line approach to success? For inspiring answers to this question, I took a tour around the World Wide Web. Below is a quick summary of how other communities are encouraging their businesses to be more “local, green and fair.”
Based in Asheville, NC, Accelerating Appalachia connects organic food and farming, sustainable forestry and green building businesses with investors and mentors. Entrepreneurs receive coaching in all aspects of their business, and specifically around financing. The first 10 businesses that participated in this program created 35 jobs, put 106 more acres into farming and added 12 new farmers to the local food system. Participants include Appalachian Botanical Alliance (a cooperative of Appalachian grown herb farmers), Echoview Fiber Mill (a manufacturer of natural fibers) and Carolina Ground (which grows and mills organic wheat, rye and barley flours).
The Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA), made up of 850 business and commercial property owners in Vancouver, British Columbia, reduces waste and shares resources through a Green Zone Resource Park. An underused parking lot was transformed into an industrial composting facility, material exchange and recycling collection hub. It is also now home to urban garden plots.
Certifiably Green Denver helps businesses adopt more sustainable business practices in how they use energy, water, waste and transportation. The City and County of Denver offer low-interest loans to businesses to help them implement energy projects. Thanks to this program, over 600 businesses have implemented energy upgrades, resulting in a reduction of 21,100 tons of carbon emissions. The program also maintains a Certified Green Business Map, helping the general public identify “green” business or transportation options.
Switching the focus now from green practices to fair businesses practices, Inner City Advisors (ICA) based in Oakland, CA believes that “people with good jobs are the foundation of a thriving community.” By ICA’s definition, a good job pays above a living wage, offers full health and dental benefits and allows employees to move up within the company. ICA helps small businesses access capital, hire from the local community and retain local talent. One of ICA’s members, Revolution Foods, created and retained over 1,000 jobs while serving over one million freshly prepared meals every week to K-12 schools.
The Living Wage Western Mass Coalition believes a living wage is a human right -- that employees should be paid a wage that allows them to afford decent housing, food, transportation, clothing, utilities and medical care. The coalition also certifies and promotes businesses that pay their workers a living wage. More locally, Healthy Monadnock started its own living wage work group. To get involved, contact Linda Rubin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While Fair Trade items are made in far away places, buying them cultivates sustainable local economies throughout the world. Fair Trade certifications ensure that products were grown, harvested, crafted and traded in ways that “improve lives and protect the environment.” Fair Trade Brattleboro and the Fair Trade Club at Keene State College encourage businesses in our region to offer Fair Trade products on their shelves and menus.
Do you know of other programs or projects that encourage businesses to be more “local, green and fair?” Please share them with us by emailing email@example.com.