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Transition Town Totnes and the Path to Sustainability

Totnes in the United Kingdom is my dream town. Well, at least when it comes to sustainability it is. In terms of weather, I’ll take beautiful Lafayette over dreary ol’ England any day. But with a little work, we can make our community just as sustainable.

I had never heard of Totnes until recently, when I was listening to a TED Radio Hour about finite resources. It is one (and the first) of 350 towns and cities across the world participating in the Transition Town Movement. The Transition Town Movement is a model of sustainability created by Rob Hopkins. The purpose of this social movement is for communities to begin shifting away from their reliance on fossil fuels and to begin focusing on manufacturing and purchasing local goods and commodities in order to increase their resilience and insulate them from any negative effects of a rapidly changing global economic system. The people of Totnes have developed an Energy Descent Action Plan that provides a guide for their own town and others to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and lower our carbon footprints.

So what does my sustainable dream town have to do with pet food and supplies? Well, to us, sustainability is the foundation of everything we do. We love living and working in Lafayette and we’re dedicated to constantly analyzing how our own actions impact our community. Because sustainability issues are quite complex, we continue to be a part of the Lafayette Green Business Program and look for ways to strengthen our commitment year after year. Check out our progress so far by reading our previous blog posts (links below).

This year, we’ve been looking even more critically at what we throw away, including assessing the effects of packaging and diverting more waste away from landfills by using Eco-Cycle’s CHaRM facility and Terracycle. Here’s a bit more about these great organizations:

  • CHaRM or the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials and is run by Eco-Cycle, a local nonprofit organization out of Boulder that’s been in business for over 40 years! At the CHaRM facility Eco-Cycle recycles materials that typically are sent to landfills, but don’t need to be, including cooking oil, cement, small appliances, yoga mats, and all types of plastics. At The Happy Beast, we use CHARM to recycle the clear plastic packaging that wraps larger shipments of canned pet food and bulk treats. Eco-Cycle charges a $3 fee for every vehicle, in addition to the recycling fees that apply to specific materials like electronics, bike tires, and porcelain, but there is no additional fee for most plastics. And if you’re planning to use CHaRM on a regular basis, we recommend setting up a business account, which reduces the $3 trip fee.
  • Terracycle is a global waste management company based in New Jersey that aims to reuse, upcycle, and recycle almost every form of waste, including such diverse waste streams as industrial byproducts, toy action figures, styrofoam, and scraps of hair from salons – they literally recycle almost everything! At The Happy Beast, we have Terracycle Zero Waste Boxes for all our pet food packaging and personal packaging such as chip bags and to-go food containers. Earthborn, one of the great natural pet food brands we carry, even has their own program and Zero Waste Boxes with Terracycle. We encourage all our customers to return their clean, empty pet food bags to us at the store and so far we’ve collected over 1,500 bags for recycling!

Our next projects include:

  • Reducing our electricity and natural gas use with Xcel Energy by implementing additional energy efficiency measures including replacement of our existing fluorescent light bulbs and fixtures with more energy efficient LED options.
  • Identifying new opportunities through the Lafayette Green Business Program. If you own a business in Lafayette (or know someone who does) you can apply for free through the City of Lafayette website.
  • Offsetting our carbon footprint through Terrapass through Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).. By purchasing RECs, we will be investing in projects that promost renewable energy like wind and solar while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Look for our implementation of this project this fall.

All the steps we are implementing at the store, we are also doing in our own homes. We want to spread the word about these amazing companies and what we can all do to make this world a healthier place for future generations.

Stay tuned for future sustainability updates and let us know if you have any other ideas or suggestions to improve our collective sustainability. And check out the links below for more information on the Transition Town Movement – perhaps Lafayette could be next!

PACE Sustainability Certification (Part 2)

Earlier this month, The Happy Beast received sustainability certification in waste, water and energy efficiency through Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE). In partnering with PACE, we’re joining a community of businesses that:

  • Are dedicated to the community in which we live
  • Care about our customers
  • Pursue more sustainable practices to support the health, environment, and economy of our local community.

Our PACE certification in waste diversion and water efficiency demonstrates our high level of environmental performance. PACE’s certification performance criteria are based upon and consistent with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria as well as EnergyStar Building certification. To achieve certification, we demonstrated:

  • Waste Certification: Diversion of at least 70 percent of waste stream away from the landfill. (Our diversion rate is 87%!)
  • Water Certification: Water savings of 20 percent better than usage predicted by current code. (Our savings is 21%!)

We’re making some great strides in sustainability certification and will continue these efforts throughout 2015 and 2016. You can read our Part 1 blog post to see where we started, or check out our progress-to-date below.

The Happy Beast: Steps to PACE Certification
(Audit conducted: May 15, 2015 | Last updated: September 15, 2015)

  • Water: CERTIFIED (Gold)
    • Install low-flow faucet and dog wash sprayers: COMPLETE
    • Install additional drain screens for dog washes: COMPLETE
    • Install water efficient toilet: COMPLETE
    • Install dual-flush toilet conversion kit: Pending
  • Energy: CERTIFIED (Silver) 
    • Update thermostat programming: COMPLETE
    • Use smart power outlet strips: COMPLETE
    • Use sleep mode for all computers: COMPLETE
    • Install Energy Star certified washer and dryer: COMPLETE
    • Upgrade all remaining lighting to LEDs: COMPLETE
    • Install occupancy sensors in bathrooms: Pending
    • Upgrade to energy-efficient water heater: Pending
  • Waste: CERTIFIED (Gold) 
    • Establish composting and recycling, including packaging film plastics: COMPLETE
    • Provide reusable shopping bags and $.10 bag credits (stop by the store to get yours!): COMPLETE
    • Divert over 70% of monthly waste stream (recycling, compost, plastics, and trash): COMPLETE

 

Our Journey Toward Greater Sustainability (Part 1) – Making a Pawsitive Impact

We’re excited to announce that we’ve started working with Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE) to conduct a sustainability audit and provide recommendations to help us measure and improve our use of energy and water resources while reducing our overall waste stream. Like all PACE Partner businesses, at The Happy Beast, we’re committed to supporting a strong local economy, implementing environmentally sustainable practices, and demonstrating leadership in our community. We’re extremely proud to have already achieved our water usage certification, but we’re still working toward our energy reduction and waste diversion goals. We’re including a list of the steps we’re taking below, but please let us know if you have any other ideas or suggestions. We want to share these goals and achievements with our customers at every step and we always welcome your feedback.Partners for a Clean Environment | The Happy Beast

If you’d like to to learn more about what sustainability steps you can take for your business or home (and what rebates may be available) please contact PACE or Eco-Cycle for more information.

 

The Happy Beast: Steps to PACE Certification
(Audit conducted on May 15, 2015)

  • Water: CERTIFIED
    • Install low-flow faucet and dog wash sprayers: COMPLETE
    • Install additional drain screens for dog washes: COMPLETE
    • Install water efficient toilet: COMPLETE
    • Install dual-flush toilet conversion kit: Pending
  • Energy: Work-in-Progress
    • Update thermostat programming: COMPLETE
    • Use smart power outlet strips: COMPLETE
    • Use sleep mode for all computers: COMPLETE
    • Install Energy Star certified washer and dryer: COMPLETE
    • Upgrade all remaining lighting to LEDs: Pending
    • Install occupancy sensors in bathrooms: Pending
    • Upgrade to energy-efficient water heater: Pending
  • Waste: Work-in-Progress
    • Establish composting and recycling, including packaging film plastics: COMPLETE
    • Provide reusable shopping bags and $.10 bag credits (stop by the store to get yours!): COMPLETE
    • Track monthly waste stream (recycling, compost, plastics, and trash): Pending