Are capitalism and sustainability compatible? What kind of modern business owner takes the long view over short-term profits? Can the ecological and social costs of doing business be taken into consideration on the profit/loss sheet along with paper and pens? What does our marketplace look like in a world where the real responsibilities of doing business are shouldered by the owners and visionary entrepreneurs? Well, I hope to show a glimpse here in Greener Ventures.
Greener ventures abound in Eugene; take sisters Cheryl and Catherine Reinhart for instance. The Reinharts started Sweet Life many years ago, carefully building up a bakery from scratch, enticing their customers with amazing sweet treats made from organic and local ingredients when possible, and composting and recycling to reduce their footprint while nurturing the business. A couple of years ago, facing needed roof repairs for their retail shop, they saw an opportunity to take their dedication to sustainability to another level. Teaming up with Advanced Energy Systems and EWEB, the Reinharts had two solar electric and two solar water heating systems installed on both the bakery and the retail Sweet Life locations. Such a project is not taken lightly for small businesses, but with low interest loans, tax incentives and long-term reduced energy bills, more and more business owners are able to marry capitalism with sustainability. Visit Sweet Life at 755 Monroe in Eugene. For more information on Sweet Life’s roof-integrated solar electric system as well as to discover other local businesses going solar, check out the AES website, www.aesrenew.com