This past week was Earth Week, and were all supposed to spend all seven saving the planet. Earth Week, going green, carbon credits, LEED certified, it can all be a bit daunting. The Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel discussion this past week that featured speakers from all different aspects of “going green” and what quickly became evident is that "going green" can mean something different for everyone and that's okay, and probably a good thing.
We hosted four speakers: David Yourd of JDY Gourmet, John Hamilton of Onyx Distribution, Collene Wells of the Compost Office, and Dr. Jason Fenema of Ravenswood Health Center. As you may have guessed from the company names, the speakers represented many different aspects of being green. In each of their respective areas, though, they're still making a big difference.
A message that came through in each of their presentations is consumers can drive the green movement. John Hamilton noted that conversations with clients about using eco-friendly products have historically focused on encouraging them to buy it because it was the right thing to do. He stated that now his clients are also buying the products because their clients are demanding it and in the long run it is now good for their bottom line. David Yourd echoed that sentiment. While many of the chefs he works with are buying meat that's been raised humanely and without antibiotics or hormones, some chefs still needed convincing due to the price point being higher.
The “convincing” has come from the restaurant patrons asking their waiter where does the meat come from. Chris Dallas, owner of HarvesTime Foods, recently changed out his traditional awning and replaced it with a solar panel awning that produces energy for all his exterior LED lighting. He has always been concerned about the environment and doing his part, but it was discussions with his customers that encouraged him to go in this direction.
It's exciting to me that we as consumers don’t have to feel helpless in our desire to improve our environment. A consumer can choose to shop locally, ask where their food is coming from, walk or take transit instead of driving. Each choice sends a powerful message and when communities embrace that message the change can be incredible. For business owners who want to be greener it is nice to know that many customers are watching and appreciate the efforts you are making. So go out there and save your corner of the planet -- and not just next week.
Melissa Flynn is passionate about her community and passionate about her job as the executive director for the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce. For the past seven years she has been creating a sense of place that has helped to transform the Lincoln Square community. Flynn is a skilled and experienced executive with a proven track record of creating a successful business climate balanced by strong values of sustainability and community. Under her leadership in 2011, the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce achieved the highly coveted three-star Accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.