The first year-long Charlottesville Better Business Challenge has officially come to an end. This year’s competition included 107 Charlottesville-area organizations competing in six categories: Waste Reduction, Water, Transportation, Energy, Purchasing, and Leadership. Organizations earning 150 points or more were eligible for the Winner’s Circle. GreenBlue finished in the Winner’s Circle, in addition to being nominated for awards in the categories for Kilowatt Crackdown, Biggest Loser, Green Leader, Top Innovator, and Overall Champion among medium-size organizations. We were, in fact, the only business to be nominated for an award in every category.
On June 21, the Challenge hosted an awards ceremony where everyone walked the “green carpet” at the Paramount Theater here in downtown Charlottesville. Several local area restaurants and wineries donated wonderful food and drinks for the event. I am very proud to announce that at the awards ceremony, GreenBlue won two awards: Kilowatt Crackdown and Biggest Loser (waste reduction).
In most cases being considered the Biggest Loser would not be cause for celebration. However, in this case we are thrilled to have won in this category. This title means our organization had the greatest reduction in waste generated in the office among all participating businesses. We accomplished this by increasing our composting and recycling efforts, and in total we were able to reduce our waste by 40%.
We strive to recycle as many products as we can as an office. Our current recycling initiatives cover not only the usual paper/cardboard, plastics, glass, and metals, but also CFL bulbs, batteries, ink and toner cartridges, electronics, and plastic bags. We have taken electronics and other products to our local Best Buy for recycling and have used Freecycle to find homes for no longer needed items. We’ve bartered items on Craigslist and offered unused lanyards and nametags to a local Girl Scout council. We’ve found that most things can be reused in some manner, it’s just a matter of finding the right place. Although this sometimes can take a bit of research to find the appropriate location, it is definitely worth the effort.
We also started a partnership with the C&O Restaurant to compost our organic waste together. Some of our food waste is taken home to feed a staffer’s chickens, and at times they can be some mighty well fed birds! The remainder of our food products, compostable packaging, and paper towels are now collected and combined with the food waste from the restaurant. We are very appreciative that the C&O houses the large compost collection can and agreed to share the cost with us. We believe this type of partnership could benefit other organizations and restaurants in the community and we actively encourage other local businesses to seek out similar opportunities.
Black Bear Composting recycles our compostable material into products for healthy soil. Once the organics have finished composting, the end product–finished compost–has several benefits:
- Returns nutrients to soil: nutrients derived from the soil in the form of vegetation are returned to the soil to restart the growing cycle
- Revitalizes soil: compost also provides structural and biological benefits to soil that improves soil health
- Reduces chemical needs: soil-amended with compost reduces the need for chemical fertilizing and pest control
- Retains water: compost enhances water absorption of soil, which reduces irrigation needs.
We would like to offer our congratulations to all organizations that participated in the Challenge and a heartfelt Thank You to the Challenge organizers and sponsors that worked so diligently during the past year. For more information on the awards and photos of the awards ceremony, please visit the Better Business Challenge website. You may also want to check out the media coverage sponsored this year by Earless Rabbit. Although sustainability can be challenging to implement, we are proud to have participated in this year’s Better Business Challenge and do our part in ensuring a healthy future for our planet and the next generations.