Recycle Utah praises Park City businesses pushing for sustainability | ParkRecord.com

Recycle Utah praises Park City businesses pushing for sustainability

The Christian Center of Park City receives a lot of items people have deemed as junk. From clothes to old televisions to surplus food, the nonprofit finds a place for them all. Sometimes, the center has to get creative, and the strides it has taken to reduce waste is why the center was named the Green Business of the Year.

Recycle Utah, a Park City nonprofit that collects waste and educates the public about green initiatives, recognized three businesses improving their sustainability efforts during its second annual Green Business Awards. The event was a chance to celebrate businesses that are "going above and beyond," said Haley Lebsack, director of development for Recycle Utah.

Riverhorse on Main was given the Zest for Zero award, which goes to a person or business exploring unique ways to reduce waste and adopt eco-friendly practices. The People's Choice Award, which is chosen by community members, was awarded to Deer Valley Resort.

Lebsack said Recycle Utah's two-year-old Green Business program has been successful among Summit County businesses so far, and the awards ceremony was evidence of that. Of the 75 businesses that are members of the program, 54 have been involved for at least one year and were eligible for the Green Business of the Year award. The Green Business committee selected eight businesses to be considered for the award, and judges selected the final winner.

The Christian Center, which assists Summit County's underserved community, was chosen because of its dedication to have zero waste, Lebsack said.

"They are figuring out how to take all of the stuff that people no longer want and that people no longer use, and they are making sure it ends up somewhere other than our landfills through creative uses," she said. "And that is not easy."

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Although the center has not yet entirely eliminated waste, Rob Harter, executive director of the center, said it is getting close. It receives hundreds of food donations every day, and all of the food is used. What is not put on the shelves of the organization's food pantry for people in need is either composted at Bill White Farms or given to goat and pig farmers.

The center also donates the 4,000 pounds of clothes and textiles it receives each week to developing countries or other nonprofits, like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. Outdated electronics and metal are recycled at Recycle Utah.

"We try to make sure we are using all of it," Harter said.

He said the center has been working toward its green goals over the last few years, but has put in extra effort recently. Its new building, which was completed in September, was intentionally built to be energy efficient. New LED lights, windows and solar panels help reduce the center's energy usage. Harter said the solar panels are expected to cut the center's electricity usage by one-third.

A couple weeks ago, the center decided to remove plastic bags from its boutique.

Harter, and the other businesses that were honored, were thankful for the recognition.

And Lebsack said she felt the same way about the businesses that are putting in the time, money and effort to make sustainability a priority.

For example, Riverhorse on Main updated its schedules so it was easier for its employees to carpool or use public transportation to arrive at work.

"I'm sure on their end that took a little bit of work. Writing schedules is always complicated, but there's a simple thing they did to encourage their staff," Lebsack said.

Seth Adams, co-owner and executive chef of Riverhorse on Main, said the restaurant has made sustainability a priority over the last year and a half. Along with changing employee schedules, the restaurant also recycles about 90 percent of all paper products and sends close to 1,200 pounds of compostable food to Wild Harvest Farms every week. It further diverts waste by serving wine on tap from a keg and by providing compostable straws.

Joe Vignogna, the general manager of the restaurant, said he was not expecting to receive any award because he knows the efforts other businesses in town are putting in to be sustainable.

"I didn't realize how much of a difference it really made," he said. "I'm really pumped and super proud."

This year, Recycle Utah created the People's Choice Award to see which business is creating the most buzz about sustainability in the community, because Lebsack said explaining the importance of sustainability and building hype is important.

Deer Valley Resort has cut energy consumption through purchasing more efficient snowmaking air guns and purchasing wind energy. It also uses non-disposable glassware and seeks out recyclable materials for its paper products, among other things.

Julie Schultz, the sustainability manager for Deer Valley Resort, said staff members who are passionate about preserving the land drive the resort's sustainability efforts. Recycle Utah, she said, is what pushes and supports the resort to make the goals a reality.

To be a member of the Green Business program, businesses must submit sustainability goals and actively work to achieve them. Recycle Utah provides support to help the businesses achieve their goals.