DreamSacks Inc. had already taken a number of environmentally friendly steps on its own, but participating in the city government's Ashland Green Business Program helped it do even more.
The company that sells clothing and portable bedding for travelers has an electric truck to shuttle merchandise from a storage facility to a shipping building in town. The shipping building and DreamSacks' headquarters in Ashland are energy efficient, use fluorescent lighting, have low-flow toilets and are surrounded by drought tolerant landscaping.
The company has invested in a city community solar project and buys carbon offsets for each package shipped.
The city's Conservation Division, which guides businesses through the Ashland Green Business program, identified even more things DreamSacks could do.
Those included adjusting the watering of the landscaping to match the weather and maturity of the plants, recycling the shrink-wrap plastic and plastic bands that enclose pallets the company receives, and doing more to publicize DreamSacks' efforts to be green, said DreamSacks co-owner Nancy Morgan.
"It's a great program. Everyone's very supportive and encourages the changes that you make," she said. "They call potential changes 'opportunities.' There's a lot of positive feedback for the things you already do. It's all done with a very positive tone."
Morgan said the program doesn't just focus on business owners, but gets everyone in a company involved.
"It's a learning opportunity. I would say all of the people who work here jumped on board. We learned more about recycling. People who work in the shipping department came up with more environmentally friendly packaging. Each person contributes," she said.
DreamSacks is just one of several companies and organizations that were scheduled to get certificates of recognition today from Mayor John Stromberg in the Community Development Building next to Lithia Park.
Organizations that were part of the Ashland Green Business Class of 2008 were the Ashland Food Cooperative, Ashland Sanitary & Recycling Service, Brothers' Restaurant, First Congregational Church, Grilla Bites, the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department's North Mountain Park, Pam Lott Photography, Parkside Lodging, Paddington Station, Shop 'N' Kart, Standing Stone Brewing Co., Stratford Inn and the United Bicycle Institute.
The Ashland Green Business program is voluntary and encourages both ecologically and economically sound business practices. City staff help participants examine their buildings and operations under the categories of energy, water, solid waste and recycling, toxic reduction, transportation and education.
Grilla Bites co-owner Monika DuBois said she wanted her restaurant to be environmentally friendly from its beginning four years ago.
Among its many green steps, the business uses compostable to-go containers made from corn or sugar cane, has low-flow toilets, composts material for its own garden and almost everyone walks or bikes to work.
The Ashland Conservation Division identified even more opportunities, from using corn starch-based straws instead of petroleum-based straws to installing an exhaust hood fan with variable speeds and automatic sensing.
The city has posted information about the 2008 Ashland Green Business program graduates on its Web site at www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=12012.
There is a summary about each business, as well as a list of green steps each business has already taken, along with steps the business could take to be even more green.
The Ashland Green Business Class of 2009 is in the midst of the program.
Participants included Dagoba Chocolate, Eric Laursen Design & Building, the Ashland Family YMCA, Real Estate Depot, the city of Ashland and the parks department facilities staff, Full Circle Real Estate, Noble Coffee Roasting and New Age Natural & Organic.
For more information about the Ashland Green Business program, contact the city Conservation Division at 552-2062 or send an e-mail to Ashland Water Conservation Analyst and Inspector Robbin Pearce at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 479-8199 or email@example.com.