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Obtain the green seal of environmental approval
Angelo’s Caffe owner Kathy Collantes admits she may have permanently scared off a few costumers after strongly urging them to use ceramic mugs rather than paper cups while dining in house. But Collantes said she’s OK with the loss as long as her message about waste reduction got across.
Collantes calls herself a conservative recycler and said she got hooked on the three Rs after moving to California in 1989 where she and her husband, Al, were presented with their very own recycling containers.
“It became a challenge,” Collantes said, “how much could we not throw away.”
Collantes brought her environmentally conscious practices with her when she opened Angelo’s Caffe in 2005. The restaurant recently became a pilot site for the Green Seal program which will be introduced by the Sustainable Whidbey Coalition later this month.
The Green Seal program stems from the city of Oak Harbor’s annual Green Business Award, which Angelo’s has won twice. The award was created in 2008 by Environmental Educator Maribeth Crandell who wanted to encourage businesses to go green.
“I wanted to help the business community see the advantages of going green and spotlight the ones that were taking the lead,” Crandell said. “Going green cannot only save businesses money by reducing fees for wasted disposal, energy and water among other things, but it will distinguish them as proactive, forward thinking and community minded, which attracts costumers.”
Crandell believes green businesses are doing better in the struggling economy and that they’ll help the community prosper in the long term by creating more green jobs.
“Our local businesses are stretched right now trying to make ends meet,” Crandell said. “Many people think it costs more to go green ... but most end up reducing expenses in the long run, saving energy, reducing waste, and there are a lot of rebates and tax incentives available to help make the transition.”
Both the award and the Green Seal programs have an application checklist for businesses to complete that require them to do certain things like switching to LED light bulbs or having adequate insulation in their buildings to reduce heating and cooling costs. Angelo’s Caffe won the Green Business Award for doing things like using compostable takeout containers and consulting with a Puget Sound Energy advisor to make its equipment more efficient.
The Green Seal program will differ from the Green Business Award in three ways; it’ll span island wide, any organization (not just businesses) can apply and applications will be taken year-round.
Britt Conn is the Sustainable Whidbey Coalition’s Green Seal program coordinator. She said the coalition is currently working with 15 early adopter organizations who represent a diverse cross-section of the island.
“We’ve had quite a bit of interest and expect this program to take off as soon as we launch it,” Conn said.
Green Seal organizations must meet the application criteria, be willing to participate in annual surveys, display a Green Seal window cling and sign the program pledge.
“Participating businesses will benefit by attracting costumers looking for green businesses and products and by growing local economy and eco-tourism,” Conn said.
Additionally, Green Seal organizations will be entered into drawing for one free hour of green PR consulting and will become affiliate members of the Sustainable Whidbey Coalition. So far, Angelo’s Caffe, the city of Langley Facilities Department, Oak Harbor City Hall and the Whidbey Institute have earned their seals.
Collantes said since joining the green movement, Angelo’s has reduced its gas bill by about 20 percent, saved on utilities and has run more efficiently overall.
“It just make sense all around,” she said.
The Anchorage Inn in Coupeville is another Green Seal early adopter. Owner Dianne Binder said she’s always tried to be green, but the program’s checklist gave her additional ideas.
“The lodging industry realized the benefits of going green many years ago,” Binder said. “Not only by attracting guests that prefer green lodging, but realizing the savings that can be achieved by lowering electrical use and water use.”
The Green Seal program is officially set to launch in late June. Organizations that are interested in the program can get more information at www.sustainablewhidbey.org.