The list of Certified Sustainable Businesses continues to grow. The latest additions include Page Springs Cellars and G-Force Gaia Services at the Silver/Innovator level. Three earned Bronze: Cottonwood Business Assistance Center, Tlaquepaque and Spirit Winds Store in The Collective along with their farm in Rim Rock.
G-Force Gaia Services (Silver): Gary Foresman has a new permaculture consulting business. providing greywater systems, rainwater catchment, and landscaping services with permaculture designs and construction that are ecologically appropriate and economically accessible. Obviously, his core service helps his customers be more sustainable but Gary is also passionate about reducing waste. “I am using ‘waste’ in many ways. I use food waste to build soil. I pick up cardboard from recycling centers to sheet-mulch and improve soil. I also get items from Habitat from Humanity and take advantage of materials that owners already have on their property.”
Page Springs Cellars (Silver): Page Springs Cellars has long been known as a leading winery in environmental practices. All their vineyards are no-till, meaning they don’t disturb the soil which can release carbon. Instead they mow native grasses and other green cover crops. Most of the plant debris is composted and put back into the vineyard. Their solar panels currently produce 85 percent of their electricity and they are hoping to get to 100 percent soon. They minimize transportation by only selling in Arizona and mostly out of their own tasting rooms. They also have remarkable employment practices. All full-time employees earn a living wage, employees are encouraged to develop their interests, and they use a peer review process where co-workers give one another and their managers useful feedback.
Cottonwood Business Assistance Center (Bronze): The Cottonwood Business Assistance Center, which supports local entrepreneurs, earned Bronze. They got rid of single-use water bottles and instead provide pitchers of filtered water and glasses. [PHOTO] Reducing miles traveled is an important way they can be more efficient and also lighter on the planet. Casey Rooney, President and CEO - Cottonwood Economic Development Council said, “As a business assistance center, we have many meetings per week with multiple numbers of people in attendance. Often times we use conference calls (technology) as a means of attending a meeting. I am also required to attend meetings in Phoenix. I can attend many of these meetings via teleconference saving a 200-mile round trip drive.” [See photo of their meeting room with reusable glasses and pitchers of water as an alternative to single use water bottles.]
Tlaquepaque (Bronze): Tlaquepaque sends their recycling to Sedona Recycles, the operation with one of the best recovery rates in the Verde Valley. Their tenants have recycling bins, and staff goes through the public trash cans to pull out what should be recycled. Jared Hawley who manages the facilities said, “All of our seasonal plant material is recycled into mulch for the trees. We mulched the newly planted mulberries in wood chips from trimming our own existing trees.” They following Integrated Pest Management practices, using the most benign methods first. Jared said, “One of the more common issues we deal with is powdery mildew. The most effective way I deal with it is by spraying with a simple mixture of dish soap and baking soda.”
Spirit Winds Farm and Store (Bronze): Spirit Winds is both a farm and a store in The Collective. They source products, mostly from tribal areas within 50 miles. Selling indigenous food products which promotes economic development for the tribe. To be more sustainable at the store, they have Energy Star appliances and LED lighting. Their own farm is biodynamic, which means among other things they use natural methods to control pests. They compost 100 percent of organic materials which then return nutrients to the ground. Joseph DeNardo and his wife, Ann, are working on replacing plastic pots with soil blocks.
You can find the most current list of certified organizations at SustainabilityAllianceAZ.org.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Please favor businesses that make our community better. ‘Vote with your wallet' by looking for the Sustainable Business Certification on the Who’s Certified page. (SustainabilityCertifications.org). And if you like a business that isn’t certified, encourage them to see if they can qualify.
MORE ABOUT THE CERTIFICATION
The certification is a way to recognize and drive business toward companies that do the most for their employees, our community and the environment.
There are three levels of certification:
- Conservationist (BRONZE): These organizations have reduced their negative impacts on the environment and improved the quality of life for employees and communities
- Innovator (SILVER): These organizations have become producers of sustainable resources, products and energy and are actively influencing customers, suppliers and peers
- Sustainable (GOLD): These organizations are fully sustainable, meeting globally accepted sustainability standards. They designed their business model around sustainable mission and share power and wealth with employees
WHO IS THE SUSTAINABILITY ALLIANCE
The Sustainability Alliance is an inter-disciplinary coalition of non-profits seeking opportunities to make the Verde Valley sustainable.
What if the Verde Valley became a model of sustainability? We could expose our millions of visitors to practical solutions they could implement back home.
The Alliance has three main program areas:
- BUSINESS: The Sustainability Alliance is recognizing organizations through its Sustainable Business Certification and provides customized recommendations for improvements.
- COMMUNITY: The Alliance provides integrated recommendations to local communities on sustainable solutions to problems including traffic, storm-water, and land use. They are also developing a set of indicators to measure the region’s progress toward sustainability.
- EDUCATION: The Alliance offers an annual Sustainability in Schools Symposium for teachers and administrators. They’re also collaborating with ASU and NAU on related programs.
The Sustainability Alliance is a coalition of local non-profits each representing a different important community system (eg, energy/climate, water, food/hunger, waste recovery, etc.). They work across disciplines to find synergies.
Currently the core representatives include:
- Cornucopia Community Resources (for food/hunger)
- Gardens for Humanity (food, schools)
- Inspiration of Sedona (climate/energy)
- Keep Sedona Beautiful (nature-human interface, conservation)
- Oak Creek Watershed Council (water)
- Sedona Recycles (waste recovery)
- Verde River Basin Partnership (now part of Friends of the Verde Greenway) (water).
The Alliance also has affiliates that are involved to a lesser degree or that represent a sub-system, including the City of Sedona (representing municipal services), Healthy World Sedona (diet, health and the environment), the Yavapai Food Council (food/hunger) and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce (business and tourism strategy).