Arcata Chamber of Commerce
ARCATA – Each business has different challenges and opportunities in interacting harmoniously with the environment. The nominees for Green Business of the Year show that Arcata is upholding its reputation as a green community.
Alchemy Distillery has always loved the idea of upcycling and creative reuse, and in turn they made conscious decisions in production and in how they run their tasting room: Several local pig farmers save $100 a month because of the mash Alchemy donates from their whiskey distillation process.
Every cocktail they serve is in a real glass and comes with a locally made, hand-blown straw. When they host events they use real napkins, real silverware and plates.
“We made that investment in the very beginning. Over the life of our business we will be paid back. But it’s OK even if we were never to get the investment back – we would have done it anyway because it’s the right thing to do,” said co-owner Amy Bohner.
Eddie Blakeslee, operations manager/partner of Los Bagels, points out that a green lifestyle is made more possible when the community is working together.
Emphasizing the idea, Los Bagels donates its day-old bagels to Alchemy Distillery to make whiskey (debuts Hanukkah 2019). They also have a cupboard of reusable dishware available to rent by caterers and businesses.
Los Bagels is successfully diverting most of its waste (i.e. coffee grounds, cardboard, plastic wrapping) from the the landfill by utilizing services such as the Local Worm Guy (also an Arcata Chamber member).
Always looking for ways to improve, Blakeslee said he’s still working on the conundrum of the to-go paper coffee cup. The most environmentally friendly cup still has a thin plastic liner that doesn’t break down fast enough in the compost.
“How do we stop using paper cups on the level that we currently do? We’ve been around for 35 years and people are used to things being a certain way so we need to be respectful of what people are used to, but also promote change,” Blakeslee said.
Environmental Protection Information Center
There are many ways to be green. The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) works to ensure biodiversity on both public and private lands; they cover over 500 million acres in northwest California.
Primarily monitoring government projects, they are a watchdog organization and if the project is bad, they might even litigate. 2018 saw the culmination of years of work in their successful listing of the Humboldt Marten under the California Endangered Species Act and the feds are proposing its listing, too.
Part of the weasel family, the Marten lives exclusively in old growth forests on the coast and is trapped for its fur. There are more protections that can be won, according to Executive Director Tom Wheeler.
“We need to make sure the state does a good job implementing the California Endangered Species Act and that the feds do a good job finalizing the plans. You have to watch to make sure they do their jobs,” he said.
Only one business will win this year’s award, but Blakeslee commented that his hope is that soon enough we’ll all win, “The more people and companies really believe and do their part, the more we can work together and make the change together.”