WOODSTOCK – Environmentally friendly business policies can be good for the bottom line. That was the message at the “Go Green, Get Green” event held Wednesday night at Woodstock Brewhouse.
“I want to see the business community become not only environmentally sustainable but economically sustainable. This is something that can help your bottom line, such as the less waste you have the less you have to pay to haul it away,” said Sari Carp, executive director for Sustainability Matters.
Involved in the event were Sustainability Matters, Woodstock Brewhouse, Sexi-Mexi Burritos and the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce.
“Traditionally, most businesses have felt that the environment ‘’isn’t their problem’’ and that their only responsibility is to maximize profit,” Carp said. “That attitude is changing. Over 85% of large corporations now publish an annual sustainability report and are paying serious attention to how to engage in more eco-friendly practices. This is equally relevant, if not more so, to small businesses.”
She also pointed out that consumers are becoming more interested in patronizing ‘’green’’ businesses, so promoting a business’s green practices is a vital way to stand out in today’s crowded marketplace.
A couple of local business owners spoke at the event about how their environmentally friendly policies have benefited them.
Sarah Cohen is the founder and president of Route 11 Potato Chips in Mount Jackson. She operates the company with Michael Connelly, who she said was key to the company’s environmental stewardship.
Cohen told the group that the company used to dump its peelings and its rejected chips. They had trash pickup three times a week at a cost of $300 a week. They then found a local farmer whose cows eat their peelings and rejected chips.
The company trash pickup is now once every two weeks, which reduces that cost to about $300 a month.
Route 11 Potato chips built a new plant in 2008. Cohen said this factory allowed them to redouble their long-standing commitment to the environment.
She said Connelly’s engineering plan for the factory resulted in many improvements to sustainability, including a white membrane roof that reflects heat and reduces cooling costs and heat exchangers above the cooking kettles that allow energy to be captured to help warm the kitchens in the winter.
They built the plant facing southward for optimal sun, keeping it warmer in the winter, and built it to be easy to clean, requiring fewer chemicals and less water to clean.
Route 11 Potato Chips last month filled in another piece of its sustainability mission.
The company switched its energy source in October to 100 percent hydroelectric power, which conserves the equivalent of 39,000 pounds of coal, Cohen said
She hails the changeover to hydroelectric energy as both a valuable addition to the company’s sustainability mission as well as offering cost savings.
“We are saving about a penny per kilowatt hour,” she said.
Also speaking was Matt Klus, operations manager of Woodstock Brewhouse.
Klus told the group that Woodstock Brewhouse gives its spent barley to livestock farmers for their pigs and cows to eat. That saves the brewhouse money in trash pickup while helping the farmers by supplementing the animals’ feed.
“It does not go into the landfill and it gets reused,” Klus said.