A handful of Summit County’s stand-out green entrepreneurs presented their approaches to sustainability during the Colorado Association for Recycling’s annual summit on Monday.
Each of the entrepreneurs took part in “green coaching” services provided by the High Country Conservation Center. Funding from the towns of Breckenridge, Frisco and Silverthorne also supports the sustainable business programs.
“Business owners sign up because they want to incorporate environmentally responsible practices into their businesses,” said Lynne Green, HC3’s energy program manager, during the conference.
“Businesses have to do something substantive to be in the program,” she said. “Everyone here did things across the board.”
Each of the businesses owners who presented at the recycling conference have incorporated innovative sustainability practices that made sense for them.
“We have created some pretty far-out ideas that have actually caught some national attention about how we collect and process everything in a very low-tech way,” said Summit Greasecycling owner and engineer Dara Lor.
“Bigger companies are putting so much energy into the process, while we basically just use gravity,” she said. “It’s been a very grassroots backyard operation kind of out of necessity. But on the back end, it’s created so much benefit to the entire process.”
Erin Young, Red Buffalo Coffee and Tea owner, said her zero-waste policy works because it’s a “zero thought process” for her customers.
“Everything we give our customers is compostable,” she said.
The company has a big receptacle that looks like a trash bin — but everything that goes into it eventually turns into compost.
“Customers don’t have to think about it,” Young said.
Chris Carran, owner of Local Liquors and Peak Provisions, said her business philosophy is to educate customers about the sustainable products they use. This helps them understand how the whole process works.
“Then when they go home and throw something into garbage they will think twice about it,” she said.
Imane Deininger, of BookBreck.com, said she prefers to have her sustainability procedures put on paper.
“When you make it more of a policy, all of the sudden the employees buy into it, and it becomes a habit,” she said.
Justin Pollack, owner of Mountain River Naturopathic Clinic, incorporated sustainable features while remodeling his clinic last year and said the green atmosphere is conducive to his business.
“It’s a very cozy clinic — different from going to a hospital for sure,” he said.
Having a local resource is crucial to help businesses follow through with sustainability goals, Young said.
“It’s been helpful to have the support of HC3 and the town of Silverthorne,” she said. “When you are a small-business owner, time and resources are things you don’t always have.”
In the three years since the local sustainable business programs have been created, Summit County business owners have managed to divert more than 1,000 cubic yards of waste from the trash, Greene said.