Local independent businesses are an under-recognized resources for combating global warming. Concord's Indies are working to be more sustainable in ways you may not realize. We're community members; we want to reduce negative impacts we have on our neighbors. As business owners, we're not powerlessly following wasteful corporate policies we had no hand in creating. We can quickly make decisions and take actions kinder to the environment. Here's what came back from an informal survey about what some Concord Indies are doing to be more environmentally friendly.
1. Reducing Waste. Far beyond the usual (though important) paper recycling, we're reusing materials and reducing how much goes into the waste stream. Bring a vase to the Concord Flower Shop, they'll recycle it and you'll receive a thank-you rose. Cynthia Cosmetics & More gives customers a 10% incentive to recycle their empty cosmetic packaging. Andrews & Andrews donates clothing hangers to local charities and surplus inventory to MinuteMan ARC so clients go to work appropriately dressed. Debra's Natural Gourmet's organic waste goes to feed customers' livestock and pets. Many of us reuse packing material in as many ways possible.
2. Reducing Toxic Chemicals. Cynthia Cosmetics has chosen its main product line because of the safety and purity of its ingredients, and its mission to help reduce skin cancer. When it can't source locally, the Concord Flower Shop uses growers certified to have strict standards of environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Debra's core business revolves around purity and unadulterated ingredients.
3. Sourcing Locally. Rude Bridge Construction buys over 95% of its materials from local Indie businesses, and uses 100% local Indie subcontractors. Lots of Debra's goods are made in New England: cheeses, cereals, meats, lotions and potions. The Flower Shop chooses local organic growers when possible.
4. Offering Recycled and Repurposed Goods. Some of our Indies sell 100% recycled goods, including Thoreauly Antiques, Upstairs Antiques and Reflections Consignment Shop. Their quality of materials and workmanship can be better than new goods offered at higher prices. Old architectural pieces are made into lamps, vintage buttons are incorporated into jewelry and handbags, linens become window treatments, duvet covers and decorative pillows. Debra's offers items that repurpose our waste into purses, bracelets and hairbrushes.
5. Reducing Use of Non-Renewable Resources. Montague Gallery changed to LED spotlights, far more efficient than even compact fluorescents. Debra's chose plant-, not petroleum-based, flooring during its expansion last year. Sales Renewal helps small businesses increase their sales through better website use, allowing customers to do business without driving.
6. Walkable Villages. Our wonderful villages are still predominantly populated by Indie businesses in retail, service and other sectors. More folks are out on foot these days, both for their health and to reduce their carbon footprint. As much as a mile from a village center is not too far for many to walk. Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher with the New Rules Project (www.NewRules.com) points out the importance of keeping walkable Indie business areas alive: increases in fuel economy are easily negated by increases in driving - a trend we've seen as total US miles driven rose 60% between 1987 and 2007. In Concord, we are truly blessed to have the option of doing business locally.
Concord Indies' members want many more ways to be part of the solution, and it's frustrating that some methods are not yet known. Debra's wants fully bio-degradable, heat-resistant take-out containers. Spiral Beading needs information on greener material sources that is truly reliable. Many Indies are searching for workable ways to do more local sourcing. We invite community members to dialogue with us on this topic.
Find out more about the Concord Indies and the $2 bills floating around town stamped with "Spend Local" at www.ConcordIndies.org or email info@ConcordIndies.org.