Tag Archives: Small Business

Green Plus Success Stories

10 Nov

As promised, here are some success stories Sarah Kate and Kirsten shared with me.


This is one of Sara Kate’s favorite stories. Is it possible to have accounting firm that cares about sustainability as much as the bottom line? It’s no fairytale. “It all started because of an employee. It changed not only some of their practices, but also their culture. It opened their eyes a bit to the possibilities that exist. I love how the program was a change-agent at HPG”

The Taylor Companies

Sara Kate and Kirsten both really liked this example, because it shows that sustainability is for just about everyone. Jeff, the CEO of The Taylor Companies, is an example of an everyman business owner. “He was someone who what skeptical of sustainability as perhaps being a little ‘too hippy.’ These are union guys after all. Well, he took at look at the sustainability programs with an analytical eye and found that it saved him a lot of money in reducing waste. So much, in fact, it pays for two people’s salaries at his company. They’re able to fit all of their waste into a 5’ x 8’ dumpster for the month–which is incredible for their business. Now, he’s a huge evangelist of sustainability, everyone he meets hears about how they should be focusing on sustainability.”

Chapel Hill Tire Car Care Center

By far, this was Kirsten’s favorite story. It gave her chills just telling it. Chapel Hill Tire Car Care Center has been a family-owned business in businesss for over 50 years. It would have been very easy to keep doing what’s always been done. But Mark Pons had a different vision.

“After renovating their 104-year-old building they have dual-flush toilets, water conservation and solar panels. His business has grown so much that he has been able to hire 5 new employees.”

But he didn’t stop there. “He looked at the people section of the Green Plus diagnostic. One of the questions is ‘Do you give your employees two conquerent days off?’ At that time he kept his business open on Saturday,” as most car care business do. “He wasn’t sure how much it was going to cost, but he decided to try closing shop on Saturdays so employees could spend that time with their families. What happened is they didn’t lose any revenue. People just brought their cars in during the week. Word got out that the shop was closed on the weekend and that Marc actually cared about the employees. In the end he’s been able to attract the most qualified canidates for job openings. “

More Companies and How You Can Get Involved

That’s just three stories. There are 110 other companies, each with their own successes, in the Green Plus Directory. I encourage you to reward these businesses that have committed to sustainability and also refer companies to the program.

Getting Involved

“We would love and encourage your financial donations. We could use some help funding our marketing efforts and technology to reach even more businesses.

Also, we love to see champions in the public. If you’re passionate about this program, we’d love to hear from you. We’d love for self-motivated people to help us get the message out.”

Here’s how you can contact them:

Website: http://www.gogreenplus.org/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/GreenPlus

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Green-Plus/61742979054


Green Plus: Sustainability for All

9 Nov

Green Plus is a bit of a hidden gem in the Durham community. Tucked back on Gilbert Street is one of the most innovative sustainability programs in the area, if not the country.

Sure, huge corporations like Walmart and Target grab the headlines for their efforts to be green, but just as it’s the small and medium-sized businesses that drive the economy; they’re also the ones that need to lead the charge for a cleaner tomorrow.

The small, tight-knit team of Sarah Kate Fishback, Kirsten Hausman, and Chris Carmody, the director, help business owners find the sustainability practices that keep them competitive while doing some good. As Sarah Kate and Kirsten put it, their goal is “Democratizing sustainability. To help small businesses get the information they need to make sustainable changes.”

Sarah Kate oversees the operations of the Green Plus program. She covers everything from customer service to technology to working with the student interns. Chances are if you’ve called or emailed Green Plus, you’ve talked Sarah Kate.

Kirsten’s the Director of Communications and Client Services for the program. She makes sure the tools are available for businesses to use and works with Chambers of Commerce to recruit more companies to the program.  In addition she helps with events and works to keep up with Green Plus members to check in on their progress.

Their Commitment to Sustainability Runs Deep

The issue of sustainability runs deep in K

risten’s family. “I got into sustainability because I grew up overseas, in Africa. In Niger is where it started to happen.  My mom worked with Peace Corps volunteers and with the Agency for International Development and basically her focus was sustainable development. I moved from the states at the age of 8 or 9 to go to a place where clean water is an issue for a lot of people. It blew my mind!” She brought those profound experiences back with her and that has powered her passion ever since.

Sara Kate’s history started in college in Business School where she saw business separating itself from the community and environment. After college she worked at Google, where she experienced a very different model. “People were passionate about not only the business, but also about sustainable practices. Café 150 was one of my favorite examples; all of the food in the café was from within 150 miles of the campus. From planting a garden on campus to installing solar panels to encouraging volunteerism it was just a different way of thinking about business.  I think we’re missing out by looking at business so narrowly; we could have happier employees, healthier environments, and more just environments.”

To Sara Kate and Kirsten the stories are the most rewarding part of the job. It’s the stories that show how Green Plus brings real change to businesses.  They had some great stories about small businesses that have gone through the program with unbelievable results. I want to do those stories justice, so they’ll go in their own post.

This is the $100 question I ask to every non-profit I interview. “What would a gift of $100 mean to the organization?”

Kirsten and Sarah Kate: “It’ll help us do more outreach and events so we can spread the word about Green Plus.”

How You Can Get Involved

“We would love and encourage your financial donations. We could use some help funding our marketing efforts and technology to reach even more businesses.

Also, we love to see champions in the public. If you’re passionate about this program, we’d love to hear from you. We’d love for self-motivated people to help us get the message out.”

Here’s how you can contact them:

Website: http://www.gogreenplus.org/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/GreenPlus

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Green-Plus/61742979054

Sneak Peek: Go Green Plus

6 Sep

An auto oil change business that cares about the environment? You better believe it. Accountants with an eye on the sustainability bottom line? It’s true.

Since 2007 Go Green Plus has helped more than 100 small businesses, including some you might not expect, integrate sustainable practices. Small businesses, long the workhorse of the U.S. economy, now have access to programs that not only make sense for the eco-conscious, but also make business sense. Companies that have completed the course have found their businesses more competitive, employees happier and their practices sustainable.

You can read more about Go Green Plus at their site and don’t forget to check out the list of companies who have completed the program.