Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

People & Planet Green Business Award
Awarding $60K annually to 12 socially & environmentally responsible businesses 

The People & Planet Award recognizes businesses for their dedication to a green economy: a bottom line that includes protecting workers, communities, and the environment. Seasonally, we award three $5,000 cash prizes in a range of green-business categories, such as zero-waste, clean energy, and local community action.

The summer 2014 People & Planet Award will feature ten finalists specializing in green products and services for children. Voting will begin on August 1.



People & Planet Winners' Gallery:

SPRING 2014
Theme: Nominees Chosen by Community Development Lenders

Feed Earth Now »
Chicago, IL
Nominated by GreenChoice Bank
FLS Energy »
Asheville, NC
Nominated by Self-Help Credit Union
Feed Earth Now Going solar! Mauthe

Cathy Scratch of Feed Earth Now, points out that she's really two businesses in one. Her business tackles waste management issues by rapidly recycling large volumes of food scraps into fertilizer, while at the same time supporting the scalability of organic agriculture. "Our business helps society live in balance with nature by providing products and services that capture the energy and nutrients of organic materials, creating a path that transforms discarded materials into valuable resources that enable communities to thrive," she says. "We plan on using this gift to further develop our web platform and any money left over will go towards a trade show exhibit."

 Dale Freudenberger, CEO of the solar-installation company FLS Energy points out that it's community-focused lenders like Self-Help Credit Union that have allowed his business to survive and thrive. "By finding financial groups with shared goals of creating sustainable communities and a cleaner world, FLS Energy was able to develop an ownership model and scale of renewable energy project development thought impossible just a few short years ago," he says. "We have decided to use the money awarded to help support organizations that are doing great work in our local community; Asheville Go, Riverlink, and Asheville Greenworks."

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused Mauthe's Progress Milk Barn, an all-organic dairy, to close its doors. With the help of Hope Credit Union, Mauthe's Progress was able to relaunch in 2010, and has been growing ever since. "We’ve been wanting to improve the efficiency of our rotational grazing by making and supplying our own organic fertilizer, and this award will help us secure the tools we need to do that – pipes, fittings, tanks, and an irrigation pump," says owner Jaime Mauthe.  "We look forward to even greater returns from our pasture-grazing, all-organic-fed cows."


Congratulations to our additional Spring 2014 Finalists:

Between the Sheets, New York, NY
Nominated by Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union
Johns Family Enterprises, Okeechobee, FL
Nominated by Native American Bank
Community Printers, Santa Cruz, CA
Nominated by Santa Cruz Community Credit Union
Metrus Energy, San Francisco, CA
Nominated by New Resource Bank
Izzy's Ice Cream, Minneapolis, MN
Nominated by Sunrise Banks
 

To find a community development bank or credit union near you, visit our www.breakupwithyourmegabank.org.

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WINTER 2014
Theme: Green Homes

Community Forklift »
Edmonston, MD
Ecohouse »
Galloway, OH
Happy customer at the 'lift. Going solar! Esther and Diana

Ruthie Mundell, outreach manager at Community Forklift, says winning the People & Planet award will help tidy things up around their overflowing home-improvement center.  "We've recently been offered unfinished space in a nearby warehouse," she says. “The prize money will help us clean and fix it up.  We can finally explore some exciting possibilities – like paint recycling, an upcycling workshop, or job training in deconstruction!" Community Forklift specializes in salvage, recycling, and reuse.  Each day, their truck team heads out to pick up so-called "trash" to return to the store for re-sale.

 “We are happy to be recognized for helping central Ohio go solar and reduce the impact of climate change," says Kevin Eigel, president of Ecohouse in Galloway, OH. "We will use the prize money to help put up a solar electric system for the Third Hand Bike Co-op, a local nonprofit organization that makes cycling accessible for everyone in our region." Ecohouse is helping to reduce fossil-fuel dependence, one house and business at a time, by installing solar PV systems, making buildings more airtight and better insulated, and encouraging the use of energy efficient furnaces, appliances, and lighting.

Nancy Vasquez Louth, manager of the Green Broom Brigade cleaning cooperative in Lompoc, CA, says the cooperative will use its People & Planet prize money to expand its services beyond the residential market.  "Winning this award will give us the opportunity to purchase needed equipment so that we can expand into commercial cleaning using our same green-friendly products,” she says. Diana Samaguey (above, right), a member of the Brigade, says, “To work green is not a passing fad; it’s a way of life that we practice for our own health and so future generations have a better quality of life.”


Congratulations to our additional Winter 2014 Finalists:

Amicus Green Building Center, Kensington, MD Honest Pet Products, Manitowoc, WI
Earthcraft Construction, Boise, ID Seabold Architectural Studio, Jackson, MS
Green Home, San Francisco, CA Superior Bed Bug Solutions, Alexandria, VA
The Green Mama, Chicago, IL  

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FALL 2013
Theme: Green Travel & Transportation

Beetle Greenway Mercantile, straw bale
Pamela Miedtke-Wolf and Shaun Stenshol, co-founders of Bio-Beetle ECO Rental Carsin Kahului, HI say the People & Planet Award will go toward investing in a new car for their biodiesel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and 100-percent electric rental fleet. Besides renting cars, they also own and operate a recycling company, they live off-grid, with solar energy, and a rainwater catchment. They're vegan, and grow a lot of their own food. Plus, they have recently created a cat sanctuary for around 100 homeless cats that had nowhere else to go. “We owe a big thanks to our partner restaurants who provide us with waste veggie oil, our environmentally conscious investors, our community supporters, and our drivers and staff," says Marc Dreyfors, founding manager of Greenway Transit.  Based in Durham, NC, Greenway is the first and only transport company in the Southeast to provide services in vehicles run exclusively on human energy (pedi-cabs) or biofuels (buses, shuttles, vans).  Greenway will use the People & Planet funds to do community outreach on the benefits of biodiesel and on environmental justice issues.
Alline Anderson, founder of the Milkweed Mercantile,a straw bale eco-inn in Rutledge, MO, says the award will help Milkweed pay for work in the inn's demonstration garden, which will in turn provide local and organic food for guests at the inn.  "The funds will go a long way in our efforts to demonstrate that a sustainable life is about joy, community, a real sense of connection, hope, and of course, great food!" says Alline. "Additionally, we will be able to take our line of jam and pickles to the next level by supporting more local farmers and gardeners."


Congratulations to our additional Fall 2013 Finalists:

Better World Club, Portland, OR Inn Serendipity, Browntown, WI
Dogpatch Biofuels, San Francisco, CA Xtracycle, Emoryville, CA
Evergreen Escapes, Seattle, WA Zigo, South Orange, NJ
Gondwana Ecotours, New Orleans, LA  

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SUMMER 2013
Theme: Ethical Apparel

Earth Creations »
Bessemer, AL
Nancy's Gone Green »
Framingham, MA
ChileWoman GreenCityGrowers Love and Carrots
One day after a stormy bike ride, the founder of Earth Creations found her clothing coated in rich Alabama clay that was impossible to wash off -- and so her unique clay-dyed, made-in-the-USA clothing line was born. Winning the award will help Earth Creations educate others about the benefits of eco-friendly fabrics and dyes. "The Slow Fashion movement unifies the 'sustainable' and 'ethical' fashion movements. We demonstrate our clay-dyeing in local schools to educate about all the aspects of Slow Fashion," says Earth Creations' Marie Caine. Maggie's Organics has been a leader in the Fair Trade fashion movement since 1992. The company plans to use its winnings to strengthen the connections between overseas workers, like cotton farmer Carlos, above, and those who wear their products here in the US. "We will dedicate the prize money to bringing more of our cooperative producers to meet and interact with our customers, through seminars and educational events," says Maggie's owner Bena Burda. "It is our belief that this connection can truly change the world."
Founded by mother-daughter team Nancy Atkins and Mary Savoca, Nancy's Gone Green is an eco-friendly online boutique. “The $5,000 will have an immediate impact this fall and winter, helping us expand our brand-new collaboration with an artisan group in Nepal,” says Mary.  "We'll be introducing the first pieces this October, starting with organic cotton and bamboo dresses and tops. We are expanding our Re:awakened label, locally made from upcycled cashmere and vintage fabrics, and previously sewn 100% by Nancy herself. "


Congratulations to our additional Summer 2013 Finalists:

Atayne, Brunswick, ME PACT, San Francisco, CA
Blue Fish Clothing, Fairfield, IA Recover, Hickory, NC
Mata Traders, Chicago, IL Vintage Creations, Seattle, WA
Mehera Shaw, Chapel Hill, NC  

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SPRING 2013
Theme: Sustainable Food

The Chile Woman »
Bloomington, IN
Green City Growers »
Somerville, MA
Love & Carrots »
Washington, DC
ChileWoman GreenCityGrowers Love and Carrots
When a tornado struck the Chile Woman in 2011, she found the silver lining: "I was too heavily wooded for solar before the tornado but I lost so much of my old growth tree cover that solar became a possibility," she says. As an organic, non-GMO chile grower for more than 20 years, Susan Wesland maintains an heirloom seed bank of more than 1800 chile pepper varieties. She plans to use her winnings to install a cistern, and to launch a small store for locally made spicy food products. Since 2008, Green City Growers has installed more than 400 raised-bed rooftop gardens on homes, businesses, schools, and restaurants in Massachusetts. The company will begin maintaining the largest rooftop farm in New England for a Whole Foods store in the summer of 2013, which is expected to yield up 11,000 pounds of produce a year. "We plan on using our winnings to invest in a more environmentally friendly vehicle," says CEO and founder Jessie Benhazl.
Love & Carrots is an organic gardening service which teaches families, businesses, and organizations how to grow their own food (including honey!). All Love & Carrots gardens incorporate conservation principles like companion planting, nutrient cycling, and water-saving drip line irrigation that benefit the surrounding ecosystem. "We are excited to devote the prize money to creating a larger composting system for the organic waste from our gardens," says founder Meredith Sheperd.


Congratulations to our additional Spring 2013 Finalists:

Alter Eco, San Francisco, CA Flying J Farm, Johnstown, OH
Archi's Acres, Escondido, CA Frankferd Farms Foods, Norwell, MA
Blue Ridge Produce, Elkwood, VA in.gredients, Austin, TX
Clean Fish, San Francisco, CA  

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WINTER 2013
Theme: Zero Waste

CompostNow »
Raleigh, NC
Preserve »
Waltham, MA
CompostNow Hummingbird Wholesale Preserve
CompostNow is a weekly doorstep pick-up service allowing households to divert their food scraps and compostable waste, creating nutrient-rich soil for home and community gardens. As of February 2013, CompostNow and its community had intercepted 50,000 lbs. of compostable waste, producing 25,000 lbs. of compost. CompostNow intends to use the award money to branch out into other North Carolina cities. In addition to their robust container return-and-reuse program, Hummingbird Wholesale pursues zero-waste with their clean and green bike delivery sy stem. "Our prize money will buy us a second electric bike cart, doubling our bike delivery capacity," says Kristie Steele of Hummingbird Wholesale. "Making local deliveries via bike pays off in cleaner air, fun and healthy work, and ongoing inspiration for our co-owners and community."
Preserve manufactures plastic personal care products out of 100-percent recycled #5 plastic, rescuing thousands of yogurt containers, lip-balm tubes, Brita filters, and other toss-away items from the landfill. Preserve will be using the prize money to help find and reward upcoming winners of the company's own  Local Heroes of Recycling contest.  “We are thrilled to be able to pay it forward,” says Preserve CEO Eric Hudson.


Congratulations to our additional Winter 2013 Finalists:

American Textile & Supply, Contra Costa, CA Repurposed Materials, Denver, CO
First World Trash, Queens, NY Stay Vocal, Norwell, MA
Green Citizen, San Francisco, CA Urban Ore, Berkeley, CA
Grounds for Change, Poulsbo, WA  

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FALL 2012
Theme: Clean Energy

City Roots »
Columbia, SC
Clean Currents »
Silver Spring, MD
City Roots Clean Currents Third Sun
City Roots grows 75 varieties of fruits and vegetables, keeps bees for both honey and pollination, and raises chickens for both eggs and include the platinum-LEED-certified, un-air-conditioned, naturally lit main building and a hybrid delivery car. The People & Planet Award will help finance a solar hydroponic growing system, as well as a new strategy for reducing tractor fuel. Clean Currents is a green electricity provider that sells wind and solar energy to residents and businesses in Washington, DC; Maryland; and central Pennsylvania. Through renewable energy purchases by both business and residential customers, Clean Currents offset 288,430,778 lbs. of CO2 emissions in 2011. They're investing their award in advancing their Green Neighborhood Challenge.
“We will use our award to establish our new office composting system and teach the other businesses in our building how to compost with us," says Third Sun's Michelle Greenfield. "We'll reduce our company’s carbon footprint with an energy-efficiency lighting retrofit, and we will install some solar power with our local Habitat for Humanity chapter. Thank you for making these opportunities possible!”


Congratulations to our additional Fall 2012 Finalists:

Angel Wind Energy, Onarga, IL Green Canopy Homes, Seattle, WA
Brighton Car Wash, Naperville, IL Mosaic, Oakland, CA
Cooperative Energy Futures, Minneapolis, MN Pacific Biodiesel, Kahului, HI
Cozy Pure, Norfolk, VA  

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SUMMER 2012
Theme:
Local Community Action

Green Kid Crafts »
Anchorage, AK
Sonoma Compost »
Sonoma County, CA
Green Kid Crafts Raleigh City Farm Sonoma Compost
Green Kid Crafts provides convenient, sustainable, and engaging activities that help families enjoy their quality time together while cultivating a child’s love and respect for the environment. They offset 100% of their carbon emissions, and partner with their local community nonprofit  Hope Community Resources to employ a team of disabled people to pack and ship their Discovery Boxes. Raleigh City Farm is a commercial urban farm growing food made from local rain, local compost, and local sunshine. They supply many local restaurants with organic produce, and partner local businesses to re-use their waste (wood, coffee bags, cardboard, and newspapers) as growing-beds. Their People & Planet Award will help them build a rain-water collection and irrigation system. Sonoma Compost Company (SCC), the regional compost facility for Sonoma County since 1993, has diverted nearly 1.5 million tons of organic matter (yard trimmings and vegetative food scraps) from landfills. SCC is both a sponsor and educator in the "350 Home and Garden Challenge" led by the local nonprofit Daily Acts. SCC donated the cash prize from its People & Planet Award to Daily Acts.


Congratulations to our additional Summer 2012 Finalists:

Coffee By Design, Portland, ME MiaDonna, Portland, OR
Fiberactive Organics, Raleigh, NC Old City Green, Washington, DC
Glad Rags, Portland, OR Root-n-Roost Farm, White Sulphur Springs, NY
Liveability Project, Bethesda, MD  

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