April 2, 2024

7 Small Businesses with a Big Green Impact!

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Remember when finding a recycling bin felt like history’s most challenging scavenger hunt? Or when refilling a water bottle required perfect aim from a water fountain? We’ve come a long way! And small businesses helped us get there.

This month, we’re profiling seven Entrepreneurs Forever members whose small businesses are built on environmental stewardship and sustainability. See how each gives Reduce, Reuse, Recycle a unique spin, making it easier than ever for their communities to go green.

Worm Return

Owner/member: Laura Totin-Codori

Founded: 2018

Impact: Nearly 600,000 pounds of food kept out of landfill

Entrepreneurs Forever peer group: Pittsburgh

Got food scraps? Worm Return is on ‘em. This Pittsburgh-based, female-owned, socially responsible composting service is on a mission to keep home and commercial organic food scraps out of landfills and put them into landscapes instead. Worm Return’s subscription and pick up service makes composting practical for commercial kitchens, city-dwellers, and anyone not digging the idea of turning rotting bits back into usable garden soil. And if it’s the nutrient-rich soil you’re after, Worm Return sells the compost it produces, too.

Next move: Creating a cooperative space for green-collar workers and businesses

Learn more: https://www.wormreturn.com/ 🌱

Worm Return's team

Green Road Refill

Owner/member: Jessica Georges

Founded: 2022

Impact: Refilled/saved/reused more than 50,000 bottles

Entrepreneurs Forever peer group: Cape Cod

When it comes to sustainability and reducing single-use plastics, it’s hard to achieve “perfect.” But what isn’t difficult is making one small effort at a time — and adding on when that change becomes habit. It’s the kind of practical approach to “reduce” and “reuse” that Green Road Refill embraces. The BYOB-style refill shop and mobile store offers more than 40 refillable plant-based products plus assorted local, fair-trade, and zero-waste goods and gifts. And if customers forget their bottle, there’s a free bottle basket ready to serve.  

Next move: Partnerships that help extend access and convenience. The first, with The Glass Jar, a refillable market in Dennis, MA, is already up and operating. 

Learn more: https://www.greenroadrefill.com/ ♻️

Green Road Refill founder, Jessica Georges

Remember "progress over perfection": you don't have to do everything perfectly as long as you're continually making progress.

Carbon Compost

Owner/member: Louis Mennel

Founded: 2021

Impact: 70% quarter-over-quarter growth and expansion from residential to events and commercial services that currently service businesses ranging from tiny coffee shops to corporate enterprises

Entrepreneurs Forever peer group: Pittsburgh

Most of the 120 billion pounds of food waste generated in the U.S. each year ends up in landfills. So when Louis Mennel moved to Pittsburgh, he decided to be part of the solution instead. His business, Carbon Compost, helps change the equation by providing residential and commercial green-waste collection and composting services, including bins and pickup. The business also offers event services, including everything from green waste-station rentals to full-service, onsite, green-waste staffing.

Learn more: www.carboncompstpgh.com 🌱

Carbon Compost's Founder, Louis Mennel

Otto Finn

Owner/member: Rona Chang

Founded: 2017

Entrepreneurs Forever peer group: Pittsburgh

Have you heard of Kanthas? They’re the inspiration for the sustainable fashion-artistry that is Otto Finn. Kanthas are traditional Bengali quilts crafted from layers of repurposed fabric. Otto Finn founder Rona Chang and her team take the concept even further to create fully repurposed and wearable quilted fashion. The end result is eco-friendly, inclusive, and fashion-forward — a wearable celebration of cultural heritage, craftsmanship, color, and style. 

Next move: Mend & Meal socials; upcoming Mend in Public Day; clothing swap hosted by Old Flame Mending

More info: https://ottofinn.com ♻️

One-of-a-kind, sustainable fashions by Otto Finn

Steel City Energy Conservation

Owner/member: Gary Britcher

Founded: 2016

Impact: Lower electric bills, lower energy use, and "thank yous!" from employees and customers

Entrepreneurs Forever peer group: Pittsburgh

Can custom business lighting improve workplace safety, employee morale, and the customers’ experience — all while reducing energy consumption and operating costs and qualifying for a grant and/or rebate too? The answer: YES! It’s the basis of Steel City Energy Conservation’s green business model: business lighting solutions custom-designed for each client’s unique space, tasks, and needs. And to maximize ROI!

More info: https://scconserve.com/ 🌱

Before Steel City Energy Conservation lighting

After Steel City Energy Conservation's lighting solution was installed

Sol Refill

Owner/member: Sydney Schoff

Founded: 2022

Impact: Glass reuse helps keep single-use plastics out of landfills, an important goal in a world where only 9% of all plastics created have ever been recycled (U.S. rate: 4%).

Entrepreneurs Forever peer group: H-Allegheny

Reduce, reuse, recycle. Sol Refill finds its sweet spot is “reuse.” The delivery service merges old-school bottle return and home delivery with modern convenience and technology. Customers select from a range of pantry items, home and cleaning supplies, and body care, and Sol Refill delivers each in a glass container, and then recollects, cleans, sanitizes, and reuses each for future deliveries. 

Next move: Celebrating the company’s two-year birthday and the company’s move into a new, larger warehouse.

More info: www.solrefill.com ♻️

Sydney Schoff of Sol Refill

Flux Bene

Owner/member: Rebekah Joy

Founded: 2017

Impact: 2,500 garments kept out of landfills and given an all-new life

Entrepreneurs Forever peer group: Pittsburgh

Familiar with fast fashion? Flux Bene is its polar opposite. This sustainable art project/fashion house focuses on giving new life to old clothes that were destined for the trash heap. Each garment is one-of-a-kind, gender-neutral, size-inclusive, and highly practical, because the more useful a garment is, the longer its owner will love it. Beyond creating the new fashions themselves, Flux Bene also sells sewing patterns online so upcycling is more accessible to everyone.

Next move: FREE community clothing swap and, with the help of the community, a goal of upcycling 10,000 garments by June 2025

More info: https://www.fluxbene.com/

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