Cleveland Businesses Save Money By Practicing Sustainability

Posted by: Greg T. Spielberg on August 11

56359620.jpg By Emily Schmitt
Recently, I reported on a story about Entrepreneurs for Sustainability (E4S). The Cleveland (Ohio) nonprofit teaches its 7,000 members, mostly local entrepreneurs and small-business owners, to implement sustainable practices in their business models. One company, BeeDance, takes random resources and puts them to use in the community. Recently, it collected carpet samples from architectural firms and donated them to elementary schools and animal shelters. A Piece of Cleveland (APOC) takes material from houses set for demolition (Cleveland has the 24th highest metropolitan foreclosure rate in the country) and uses them to construct furniture.

University Circle Inc., a nonprofit organization, used what it learned at E4S meetings to cut fixed costs. Instead of printing its annual report, UCI designs and distributes a virtual version, saving thousands of dollars a year. UCI encourages employees to compost organics and recycle plastics, paper, and metal. The organization has cut its garbage output in half and now pays for bi-weekly pick-ups instead of each week. UCI President Chris Ronayne also bought six bikes for employees to use instead of driving.

E4S’s members are dedicated not only to protecting the environment but doing it in a way that boosts their bottom lines. Cleveland has been marred by its imperfect environmental record — the Cuyahoga River has caught fire ten times since 1868. Today it’s working to be what Mayor Frank Jackson calls “A green city on a blue lake.”

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BusinessWeek’s Joe Weber, Patricia O'Connell, Michelle Conlin, Frederik Balfour, Peter Coy, Greg Spielberg and Roger Crockett examine The Case for Optimism by looking past the financial turmoil and economic unrest gripping the globe to focus on the promising future that lies on the other side of this storm. We’ll chronicle the forward thinkers investing in R&D, launching promising new products, entering new markets, or implementing management and leadership.

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