Going Green Is Smart Business in Westchester County

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Local Westchester Businesses Discuss Sustainability in Open Forum at Greenburgh Nature Center in Scarsdale

Community Businesspeople Discuss Green Alternatives at Greenburgh Nature Center

Going Green Is Smart Business: Stories from Local Businesses.

In keeping with their mission to promote conservation and ecological research and to educate citizens on the benefits of environmental responsibility, the Greenburgh Nature Center (GNC) held the first in what will be a series of forums and lectures on fostering sustainability in the Westchester County area, entitled "Going Green Is Smart Business: Stories from Local Businesses."

Kurt Hundgen, Executive Director of the GNC, was pleased with the initiation of an educational program years in the making. "This is really good for us, from the standpoint of reaching out to the community with some of the green initiatives our local businesses are doing."

The panel consisted of community business owners who are making strides to change the way they operate, taking into consideration not only profit but the environmental effects of their use of energy and resources. The speakers of the event were Andrew Rivkin, Owner of Embassy Cleaners, Larchmont, NY; Julie Gifford, Owner of Julie Bean Espresso, Irvington, NY; Barbara Fischer, Vice President of Great Forest Sustainability Solutions, New York, NY; Richard Heller, President of Greener By Design, New York, NY; and Danielle Diaz, Owner of Geordane's Neighborhood Market, Irvington.

"When Andrew Rivkin called Kurt and talked to him about making his dry cleaning business more environmentally friendly and sustainable, we couldn't have been happier," said GNC Project Coordinator Anne Jaffe Holmes. Holmes stressed the urgency of action in a critical moment in history and the role of community members in that moment: "(t)he combination of the economic meltdown and the environmental crisis gives us an opportunity to transform our culture and economy in one of the most creative ventures humanity will have gone through, and these businesses are going to be one of those engines."

The audience ranged from concerned citizens to local government officials, all of whom discussed ways in which they could pool their resources to support local 'green' businesses and encourage environmental responsibility within their individual townships. Nicola Coddington, mayor of Irvington, stressed the building of "interconnected networks" in order to keep the small town economies alive with unique and progressive businesses at the forefront.

Each business owner was allotted time to discuss their business model and their goals for future sustainability. Efforts of the panelists included Embassy Cleaners' degradable plastic garment covers and energy efficiency program, Julie Bean Espresso's use of compostable or degradable paper coffee cups, Giordano's organic grocery section, Greener By Design's sustainable landscaping, to Great Forest, which creates sustainable options for other businesses.

Great Forest's Barbara Fischer described sustainability as such: "It's the ability to meet the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. For businesses, sustainability means doing business in a way that supports the bottom line as well as the world in which it exists."

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Michael D'Elicio
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