In Mt. Airy, a handful of businesses with an environmentally conscious business model are helping to bring change to the consumer’s landscape.
Earth: Bread + Brewery, Wine Thief and The Night Kitchen are conscious of their carbon footprint. Each place sources ingredients locally and tries to raise awareness on many topics considered sustainable. Amy Edelman, owner and head chef of The Night Kitchen, believes it all starts thinking locally.
“Environmentally minded often means that we attempt to source ingredients closer to home,” said Edelman. “Sourcing locally often means keeping more money in the community while supporting other smaller independently owned companies.”
Spending locally, as a consumer, usually ensures your money stays local. Small farms don’t always have the resources to yield a crop large enough to supply large chains. However, if they can provide crops for several nearby restaurants whose owners prefer locally grown food, then both are happy.
Consumers in Mt. Airy want their hard earned dollars to go to a business they know and trust to spend their investments mindfully.
“As opposed to giving your money [to a large corporation] that has its headquarters in another part of the country, you’re keeping the money in a local environment,” said Christopher Planter, a local of Chestnut Hill.
This is a practice that the populous has latched onto and patronizing these businesses and others like them is very important to today’s consumer, locals said.
Diego Ferrer, a patron at a local coffee shop, believes an aware and environmentally savvy consumer is changing the way businesses create and provide a good or service.
“It saves you money,” said Ferrer. “An environmentally friendly business produces less waste from trash, electricity and water. When you are conscious of those things you can save the community money.”
By educating your clientele, you can make a stronger and more cohesive community. Edelman believes in providing an outlet for awareness as a business owner.
“I am very cognizant of waste and try to point out examples to staff on a daily basis, as well as in staff training,” she said.
Ferrer’s and Edelman’s sentiments can be seen in a larger sense with wind and solar power catching on more and more.
Barbara Thomas, a co-founder of GMO Free New Jersey, believes in order to be a successful business owner you have to be aware of the environment.
“I think its not just what you take from the earth’s resources but its what you give back,” said Thomas.
The Night Kitchen, Wine Thief and Earth: Bread + Brewery all make sure they compost as much of their food scraps as possible. Edelman would prefer to see as little food waste in a landfill as possible.
“I like to imagine our food scrap compost being used to grow some of the vegetables we use in our savory foods,” said Edelman.
The consumer wants their money to come full circle, local business owners said. By spending their money at a local business, they are feeding their local economy. That business may also use a consumer’s money to invest in local made goods they would like to use. It’s a cycle that feeds on itself, a kind of symbiosis.
“[A business] should give back [to its community],” said Thomas. “It should be a symbiotic relationship.”
A national poll done by Capstrat Public Policy found that 59 percent of consumers care how sustainable or green a product is. This plays a large part in the buying decision. That is up 5 points from a similar study conducted in 2009. What’s more, 56 percent responded to the poll saying they would pay more for an environmentally friendly service or good.
“We have very little power to change things,” said Planter. “Our best capacity to affect change is how we spend our money.”
By consuming goods and services locally, the consumer feels more in control, area business owners asserted. The consumer may know the individual who created the good they are about to buy. It enables the consumer to relate more to the product and thus feel some pride in spending their money on that particular good or service.
“There is an awareness that we all need to do our part especially businesses– big and small,” said Edelman. “People are more conscious of what part business people are playing [in the environment].”
By spending locally and becoming more aware of their own environmental communities, consumers and businesses are enabling a change in attitude. It could just be the wheel of change turning to cause consumers and businesses to take a new look at greener habits. Whatever the cause this new business model can only benefit all of our communities.