Sustainable Companies Building Community and a Greener Future

Meet two sustainable companies connecting with the community in their mission towards a greener future.
Two Community Forklift employees standing at the register and smiling at the camera.
Source: Community Forklift

Green America and the certified Green Business Network members mentioned in this article, which meet or exceed Green America’s standards for social and environmental responsibility, are here to help. 

Sustainable companies that promote green practices can support you and your community to work together to promote positive environmental movements. This is especially important in industries that are major sources of climate change. We looked at two of these industries—construction and agriculture—to find leaders who ensure that truly green solutions and community-building are at the forefront of their organization’s efforts.

Out of the Landfill, Into the Community

In Edmonston, Maryland, Community Forklift is dedicated to sustainable practices that support the local community. The nonprofit gives old appliances and building materials a chance at a new life away from the landfill. By accepting donations from contractors, suppliers, homeowners, and businesses, Community Forklift fills its reuse warehouse with supplies available to the community at low costs or for free for limited-resource households.

Community Forklift not only provides a range of unique items and useful resources, but it also runs the Home Essentials Program (HELP), which allows individuals and households to apply for free-of-cost necessities, like repair supplies or air conditioning units in the summer. Community Forklift has distributed $483,000+ worth of materials to families in need since 2011.

“Thank you so very, very much! I got air, I got air! Thank you for everything,” one HELP program recipient reacted to her free air conditioning unit. Another recipient was able to replace a range that had a nonfunctional oven and only two working burners with a gently used stove, and yet another repaired their water-damaged floor with newly provided flooring.

The nonprofit connects with many facets of the local community to accommodate a wide variety of needs. Even Community Forklift’s executive director, Trey Davis, was a Community Forklift customer long before beginning his position.

“I have been a customer here since at least 2007 or 2008. I’ve been a huge fan of the place for fun and funky items and discount materials for my own projects, so when I saw the job listing, I immediately applied,” says Davis. Davis is excited about the wide range of community members with varying interests that Community Forklift connects with.

These connections extend beyond individuals, with contributions to nonprofits, schools, and community groups. The impact of Community Forklift can be seen looking around the community: furniture in apartments dedicated to arriving refugees, toilets for repair practice in women-empowering workshops, tools and décor at a local community garden.

Davis recognizes the significance of not just practicing sustainability but doing so while putting resources back into the community in a meaningful way.

“600 million tons of construction debris is going into landfills every year in this country, and yet there’s a lot of life left in a lot of those materials and people can use it,” says Davis. “So, we view it as extremely important to connect the supplies to the people that need them.”

Other leaders like Davis dedicated to building a greener future also recognize the importance of connection.

Individuals across a wide range of fields have committed themselves to identifying effective and creative ways to engage with community and bolster their sustainability efforts. While Community Forklift provides physical resources, other organizations focus on the distribution of resources in a different way: sharing knowledge.

Sustainability, Hot Off the Presses

The Organic and Non-GMO Report, a magazine and e-newsletter, approaches community-focused sustainability by sharing news, education, and resources with its readers while supporting the growth of the organic and non-GMO markets.

GMOs—genetically modified organisms—are mostly plants, some animals, whose DNA has been modified to create something that doesn’t occur naturally. Non-GMO foods have grown in demand with the growth of the movement advocating for non-engineered agriculture with less pesticides to support soil health and biodiversity. Founder and editor Ken Roseboro is passionate about increasing the public awareness of what foods they are consuming and how they come to be.

“We’re trying to raise awareness of the importance of these foods and agricultural practices because it will make a huge difference in the world,” says Roseboro.

The Organic and Non-GMO Report provides a wide range of information relevant to the industry’s leading ideas and developments, though Roseboro’s favorite part of the job is highlighting companies that make a positive impact. Stories of farmers committing to organic, non-GMO, and regenerative agriculture in support of the environment and their local community provide a bright light to readers worried about the future of agriculture.

Ken Roseboro of the Organic and Non-GMO Report.

The magazine has also uncovered problematic practices in the industry, like a company practicing organic fraud. Two articles were published in The Organic and Non-GMO Report in 2007 reporting on Nevada Soy duped by grain broker Jericho Solutions (owned by Randy Constant), which sent them supposedly organic soybeans. The beans tested positive for GMOs. Then, 14 years later, The New Yorker’s article “The Great Organic-Food Fraud” cited Roseboro’s magazine as the first alarm bells raised about the scheme that led to “more than a hundred and forty-two million dollars in sales of fake organic grain between 2010 and 2017.” The USDA’s new Strengthening Organic Enforcement rules announced in March 2023 focus on preventing a repeat of this type of event by refining the standards of certifications, record-keeping, oversight, and more.

With his journalistic coverage and connections, Roseboro helps accelerate the work that he reports on by making introductions.

“Ken serves as the nexus for almost all of the knowledge within the evolving agriculture space,” says Jessica Hulse Dillon, director of Green America’s Soil & Climate Alliance. “Ken connects those of us working towards true regenerative transition to accelerate our collective and individual work.”

Sustainable Businesses and How to Find Them

Large corporations that pollute the planet and greenwash are frequently in the news. We hear less about the social entrepreneurs all over the country in many industries who are solving problems and helping people and the planet.

However, community-focused, sustainable organizations are found all over the country. Organizations dedicated to finding true green can provide support and resources for all of us.

Green America’s Green Pages can help uncover these genuinely green businesses. From food to clothing to banking, the Green Pages list companies and organizations that are leading the way to true green solutions. Get inspiration from green businesses at Green Pages that are committed to uplifting their communities towards a more sustainable future.

From Green American Magazine Issue