Local First Arizona helps businesses go green
Helene Tack, Director of Sustainability Initiatives with LFA, started this program to help increase the number of local sustainable businesses in the Tempe and Phoenix areas.
Both cities provided LFA funding to help run sustainability reports for businesses interested in implementing sustainable practices.
“The idea for the program came out of speaking to business owners who wanted to be better stewards but didn’t know where to start,” Tack said.
Now, LFA supports approximately 20 businesses, restaurants, cleaning companies, retail shops, and offices.
“The hope for the program is to continue to work one on one with business to give them the assistance they need,” Tack said.
Through this program Tack focuses on both economic and environmental sustainability.
“We want to recognize and reward the businesses that are doing really good things by connecting consumers to these businesses that are acting responsibly,” Tack said.
This program is mutually beneficial as participating businesses receive returns on their investments, lower operation cost fees, and increased promotion, for implementing sustainable business practices.
How the program works is LFA brings in professionals and drafts a personalized report for the business which focuses on the following seven areas of sustainability:
• Energy Consumption
• Water Conservation
• Waste Diversion
• Wastewater & Stormwater Practices
• Pollution Prevention
• Transportation Efficiency
• General Sustainability in the Workplace
“We create a report that acts as a sustainability plan for businesses and we encourage them to take action and follow the steps needed to be certified,” Tack said.
The goal for each business’s sustainability plan is to help them implement sustainable practices that will allow their business to stick around in the future.
“We’re trying to get businesses to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change so they don’t have to go out of business if they can’t afford their energy bill one month because consumption was too high,” Tack said.
Jennifer Johnson is an eco-conscious organic chef and owner of the catering company, Witnessing Nature in Food.
This year she partnered with LFA and earned her green business certification.
“With the help of the green business program I reduced my business waste to 0.9, less than one percent last month,” Johnson said.
Johnson is very conscious of how much packaging her suppliers use and makes sure to reduce and compost every item she can.
“When we cater events we take away all of the compost and recyclables to make sure all of the waste is being handled responsibly,” Johnson said.
Tracey Dempsey is a local pastry chef who has been helped by LFA’s green business program as well.
Dempsey emphasizes the importance of supporting local farmers and eliminating single-use waste by reusing bags and containers.
“I commend LFA especially Helene because she’s put lots of work into the program and as a small business owner who cares about the environment it’s important to start somewhere. Our customers appreciate our efforts because they learn about sustainable practices too,” Dempsey said.
Tack’s overall goal for businesses who participate in the green program is for customers to reward them for their sustainable efforts.
“The most important component as consumers is that we are passionate about sustainability and we have to go support those businesses who are doing good things. When we see things at the business we don’t agree with, we need to have a polite conversation with those businesses to let them know that there is a more sustainable option,” Tack said.
Where we spend our dollars matters, and if we support businesses that do good things that will enforce businesses to adopt more sustainable practices, Tack said.