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Maple Landmark Woodcraft; Middlebury, VT
s a US maker of wooden toys for more than thirty years, Michael Rainville has seen the domestic manufacturing landscape change dramatically, as companies have shifted work overseas. During all that time, Michael's business Maple Landmark has remained committed to local sourcing and manufacturing, and has seen public opinion gradually shift back toward a preference for their way of doing business.
"The recalls of Chinese toys in 2007, due to lead paint and other problems, turned the tables slightly back toward our favor," says Michael. "We were no longer that crazy, quaint company in Vermont. We were now the company that was doing it 'right.' "
Atayne; Brunswick, ME
As a finalist in the "ethical apparel" category of Green America's People & Planet Award, activewear retailer Atayne impressed voters with a strong commitment to responsible sourcing, recycled fabrics, and made-in-the-USA manufacturing.
"Atayne is a certified B Corporation, a rigorous third-party certification awarded only to companies that meet the highest standards of environmental and social responsibility," says owner Jeremy Litchfield. "Recently, Atayne was recognized as one of the 'Best for the World' businesses by scoring in the top 10 percent of all B Corps for overall social and environmental impact. Additionally, Atayne was recognized as Best for the World in the Environmental Category, scoring second overall."
Natural Investments; Keauhou, HI
We asked Michael Kramer of Natural Investments to appear as our October interview to give some of his perspective on the fossil-fuel-divestment movement, given his firm's launch of a fossil-free portfolio in February of 2013. Little did we know that our conversation would also uncover a Green-America-inspired love story.
"Natural Investments has cultivated many clients from the Green Pages and your Green Festivals," says Michael, "But most important, our partner Christopher met his wife at a Green Festival!" We asked Michael to tell us more about responsible investing in 2013, the "heart rating," and Natural Investments' next green step.
Food for Thought; Honor, MI
Timothy Young's green business, Food For Thought, is headquartered on an organic farm nestled among the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a 70,000-acre national park along the Lake Michigan shoreline (voted most beautiful place in America by Good Morning America viewers in 2012).
"I walk about 100 yards through a forest to get to work," says Timothy, when asked what makes it worthwhile to be a green business owner. "And while I can work long hours, I see my wife and kids throughout the day, every day. Together we’ve found a way to be inspired, live, and know that it’s about more than us. Financial success has been elusive; however, we have the privilege of helping others and trying to make a difference in the world through our business. I know of no better way to measure wealth."
Rock-n-Socks.; Stinson Beach, CA
As a regular exhibitor at our Green Festivals for the last five years and counting, RocknSocks owner Misty Reilly has already met hundreds, if not thousands, of Green Americans. We wanted to give the rest of you a chance to meet her too, so we asked her to tell us more about what inspired her to start RocknSocks, and what's coming next for her business (hint: organics!)...
Solar Service Inc.; Niles, IL
As a regular featured speaker at our Chicago Green Festivals, Solar Service, Inc. owner Brandon Leavitt enjoys seeing his customers from 36 years of Chicagoland solar installations drop by to say hello.
"We’ve counted more than a dozen of our customers at the shows, some of them clients from 30 years ago whose solar systems are still going strong," says Brandon. We asked him to tell us more about his first solar installation and about his inspiration to start his solar company...
Dean's Beans; Orange, MA
Just days before we were set to post Dean's interview, we learned that the Business for Peace Foundation, based in Oslo, Norway, had announced its 2013 Business for Peace Honorees. Among eighty nominations from fifty countriess leading to five Honorees, Dean was the only American.
The award, commonly known as the "Nobel Prize for Business," is chosen by a panel of Nobel Laureates, including Dr. Muhammed Yunus, creator of the Grameen Bank microloan system. Dean couldn't attend the ceremony in Oslo as he was at his daughter's college graduation, but his award was received by his London friend Lord James Abinger (they were salvage divers together in the 1980's!).
We asked Dean to tell us more about the work that led to this award...
STAY VOCAL; Norwell, MA
STAY VOCAL was founded by, Alex Eaves, a Boston-area reuse pro whose reuse bona fides shape every aspect of his business -- the products themselves, how they're made, and how they get to you.
What's more, Alex shares his experience with radical reuse with others, via his blog, consulting, speaking events, and coming soon, an exciting new project that will carry his radical reuse message from coast to coast. We asked Alex to tell us more about STAY VOCAL's innovative brand, and his upcoming projects...
Grain Place Foods; Aurora, NE
When Don Vetter began questioning the science and ethics of the emerging agricultural practices of the 1950s, he began to adopt organic farming methods for his family farm near Marquette, NE. Sixty years later, that farm has grown into Grain Place Foods, a family business that employs three generations of Vetters, and helps steward other local farms in their journey toward organic production.
"Currently, we're seeing a demand for organic grains that supasses our ability to produce in this country," says Don's son, David, when asked what makes him hopeful about the future of the green economy. We asked David to tell us more about farming in Nebraska and the history of Grain Place Foods...
Krull & Company; Asheville, NC
As the climate-divestment movement takes off, Green America has been proud to launch our Fossil-Free investing Web page and publish a whole issue of our Green American magazine devoted to divesting. In our research for these materials, we learned about a new fossil-free investing index launched by Krull & Company, long-term members of our Green Business Network.
We asked Pete Krull to tell us more about the index, responsible investing, and his green plans for the future...
Mama Ganache; San Luis Obispo, CA
As part-owner of Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates, Tom Neuhaus is not only a green enetrepreneur, but also a green-economy educator and advocate whose annual travels to the cocoa-producing countries of West Africa will soon result in a cocoa study center slated to open its doors this summer.
Located in Ekona, Cameroon, the center will will serve, Tom tells us, "as a site for the meeting of minds—of university students, of small business owners, and of cocoa farmers"—with a goal of helping farmers set up their own artisan chocolate businesses. We asked Tom to tell us more about his own artisan chocolate business and about his travels to Africa...
Was the bread in your toaster or on your sandwich at lunchtime baked by the sun? If it came from the Alvarado Street Bakery it was. This commitment to renewable energy in its business practices got the bakery nominated for a People & Planet Award from Green America, though it is only one of many green facets of Alvarado Street Bakery.
From waste-reduction principles to a commitment to organics and non-GMO products to its worker-owned structure, the bakery embodies green principles throughout. We asked worker-owner Michael Girkout to tell us more about Alvarado's busienss model, its sprouted-wheat bread, and the mysterious cat on the logo...