Tales of Going Green for 10 downtown businesses

Tampa, Florida (April 15, 2014) – As ten downtown businesses head toward the finish line of their three-month journey to adopt “going green” practices, they each have their own tales to tell of challenges and the unexpected impacts on their businesses, their expert student advisors, and the City of Tampa!

The Program Sustany® Foundation’s Sustainable Business Program for environmental sustainability and business profitability.  In collaboration with the City of Tampa, TECO, and Tampa Downtown Partnership, the program arms businesses with knowledge, and creates a support system from Sustany®’s consultants and student sustainability specialists from University of Tampa and University of South Florida.

The Players – Ten small downtown businesses and eleven sustainability students from UT and USF:

* Bamboozle Café and Bamboozle Tea Lounge
* Anise Global Gastrobar
* Duckweed Urban Market
* Renaissance Planning Group
* Sunny Side-Up
* Zudar’s Deli
* City Bike Tampa
* Moxies Café
* Malio’s Prime Steakhouse
* 22squared

The Challenge – Participating businesses work with their sustainability specialist to research, implement, and plan for new practices to reduce their environmental impact in a three month period.  Each business develops their own plan that is most effective for their individual situation.

The Results – The results were eye opening, varied from business to business, and also affected the students and the City of Tampa.
Strength in Numbers – Kevin Craft at City Bike Tampa was most impressed with the atmosphere of camaraderie between the participating small businesses who worked together to create change.
Eric Weinstein from Zudar’s Deli couldn’t agree more with Kevin – “When you’re independent, it’s harder to get stuff done efficiently and quickly. The unity created by this program is great. Small businesses can benefit most from cost-savings, improved employee retention, and greater community engagement.”

Alana Brasier from Renaissance Planning Group also concurred.  She knew her company was fairly sustainable, but also knew there is always more to be done.  And to move forward, it is all about knowledge.  “Talking to other businesses is very helpful.  It triggers ideas and the collaboration has been great.”

Small businesses can benefit most from cost-savings, improved employee retention, and greater community engagement.  Individual businesses “See Green as They Go Green.”  They are also the ones that may lack the technical expertise and time to implement sustainable practices.  With the help of resources provided by program and collaborative efforts, they have realized through their first steps, the beginning of financial benefits.  For example, Moxies Cafe was able to cut their water usage in half with a small operational change.

Students Help as They Learn – Brian Pullen, student at USF Patel College of Global Sustainability assisting Zudar’s Deli, researched opportunities for the restaurant to reduce waste and improve efficiencies.  While doing so, he learned about entrepreneurship and what it takes to overcome obstacles, including getting a business to change their ingrained practices.

The students also learned by working in collaboration, they were able to use their time more efficiently by sharing ideas and valuable information.

Big-City Impacts – Participating businesses are already feeling a sense of neighborhood amongst themselves, their collective and individual responsibility to their community, and their opportunity before them to engage and educate their own customers to exponentially grow the positive impact. Together, they feel that they can pave the way for a movement that can transform the identity of Downtown Tampa and the City of Tampa to being an environmentally-responsible and engaging place to work-live-play.

Roadblocks – Trailblazers are the ones who discover and try to overcome obstacles, as did this group.

The larger the number of employees, the harder to effect change. Malio’s management knows and understands the environmental practices in place, but are challenged with building awareness amongst the entire team who work multiple shifts. Smaller businesses like Sunny Side-Up gained more awareness about managing their waste streams and possibilities for recycling. Sunny Side-Up identified the need to work collectively with their neighboring businesses and hope to do group cardboard recycling. All businesses realized that they have to continue to keep questioning their service providers and train employees.  To change people’s behaviors, new procedures must be effectively and repeatedly communicated.

Next Steps – The celebration and the program’s continuation to support more businesses.
The Celebration – On Earth Day, April 22, 2:30pm, The Sustany® Foundation and Tampa Downtown Partnership will host a public recognition ceremony for the ten downtown businesses at City of Tampa Council Chambers where businesses will be awarded the Green Business Certification.  To build more awareness, that evening, a Sustainable Restaurant Tour begins at 5:30pm at Duckweed Urban Market, and continues to Bamboozle Café, Malio’s Prime Steakhouse, and Anise Global Gastrobar.  Tickets for walking tour are $10 and can be purchased at Sustany®.org.

Continue Striving for Goals – The Sustany® Foundation will periodically check in with individual businesses on their performance and impact over time.  Businesses will continue to work with the Sustany® Foundation, City of Tampa, and the Downtown Partnership on ways to grow and streamline the program for the next groups to follow.