Carroll businesses that put extra attention into how their practices and operations affect the environment will be encouraged to join a new green business alliance this spring.
The recognition program is being coordinated by Waste Not! Carroll, a nonprofit that focuses on solid waste and other environmental issues. Group co-founder Don West said Waste Not! started working on the idea at the end of last summer, and their goal is to launch the green business alliance by Earth Day in April.
The program is designed to evaluate the environmental consciousness and actions of local businesses and is in the final revision process now.
“Nothing’s been done like this in the county,” West said. “It’s uncharted waters.”
The group researched and studied various similar programs from around the country, and ended up modeling its program on one in Boone, N.C., said Sally Long, a member of the committee working on the green business alliance for Carroll.
The Boone program had developed a lengthy checklist of potential actions a business could partake in and assigned point values to each action. The actions fell into six categories, including solid waste management, environmentally responsible purchasing, energy efficiency and renewable energy, water conservation and quality, employee wellness and preserving and promoting the region’s natural and cultural community.
While recognizing the value of employee wellness and preserving the natural and cultural community, Waste Not! has decided to focus on the more direct environmental subject areas at this time, with the intention of reconsidering the other topic areas after a successful program has been established, West said.
Businesses will be able to get a copy of the scorecard from Waste Not! Carroll and evaluate themselves based on the criteria. The program will likely have three different levels of recognition, West said, and if the business finds that it qualifies for one of those recognition levels, a Waste Not! member will visit the business to confirm the self-evaluation is accurate.
“The idea is there would be several levels where a business could qualify for, and then they would have something to strive for with the other levels,” West said.
Qualifying businesses will receive a membership sticker to place on their door or window, as well as a certificate to display inside the business. The program will have a website recognizing the alliance’s members, as well as a resource area with tips to help businesses achieve more of the action items on the scorecard, West said.
Businesses that take part in the program can get recognition for their environmental efforts, and use them as a marketing point to connect with environmentally conscious consumers in the community, West said.
There’s also a potential cost savings to the businesses that take these actions, said Dan Andrews, another co-founder of Waste Not! Carroll. Increased recycling means decreased trash costs, water conservation efforts can lead to lower water bills and energy-efficient equipment can lead to lower electric bills.
West said he has had some informal talks with the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce about the green business alliance, and would like to see them come on board as a potential partner.
Mike McMullin, president of the chamber, said he hasn’t seen the details of Waste Not! Carroll’s proposal, but he is interested in learning more.
“Whenever you talk about being a good steward, I think it’s something everybody should look at,” he said.