Sustainable Princeton strives to make Princeton greener

Sustainable Princeton is always looking for ways to help Princeton be better and go greener. One of its recent initiatives is urging local businesses to join the state Sustainable Business Registry. The registry encourages local businesses to demonstrate their commitment to being environmentally savvy.

The state Department of Environmental Protection and the state Small Business Development Center created the business registry, and Sustainable Princeton is working to promote it locally.

Diane Landis, executive director of Sustainable Princeton, says that to become sustainable, business owners must think beyond the profit and consider actions such as water conservation or waste reduction as being integral to their business plan. The registry also offers its approved applicants marketing and access to a list of other green businesses.

“The registry is still in its infancy,” she said. “But anybody can be sustainable.”

Landis and Christine Symington, its energy director, have spoken at council meetings, hosted events and spoken at the Princeton Public Library on what it means to be green.

“We’ve found that the best approach was to sit down directly with the businesses and help them sign up,” Landis said.

There is also an NJDEP representative who helps Princeton businesses get certified.

“Princeton is leading the pack,” Symington said excitedly, noting that Princeton has had the most businesses sign the registry out of all towns in the state.

So far, Brahaney Architecture & Construction, The Farmhouse Store, Whole Earth, Joshua Zinder Architecture and Design, Shannon Connor Interiors, Arlee’s Raw Blends and Copper River Salon and Spa have signed up.

“When we first were asked [to be on the registry], I thought to myself it was just one more thing to do. Signing up does take a lot of time. It’s labor intensive and you have to focus on it. My motivation is I just think it’s the right thing to do,” business owner Shannon Connor said.

Connor found that, though the process of becoming registered was rigorous, it was worthwhile. Once she began looking at the things that could qualify her to be considered a sustainable business, there were several that were easier than she expected. Connor also discovered that being on the list gives her a leg up in finding other green businesses, such as furniture makers or architecture firms, to work with.

To fill out an application to be on the registry, business owners can visitwww.njsbdc.com. A representative from the NJDEP assists individuals with signing up.

According to the website, there are five steps to follow:

“Share information on at least five sustainable practices in place at your facility; provide one measurable result related to at least one of these activities; provide cost savings that have resulted from at least one of these activities; complete the online application form to be recognized as a NJ Sustainable Business; and re-register once every two years and show continual improvement by adding one additional sustainable practice at your facility, and one additional measurable result.”

Businesses can be qualified for taking action in the areas of community, emergency preparedness, green building, environmental and community restoration, water, transportation, energy, waste, management and leadership as well as by engaging in certification programs and industry-specific practices.

Landis hopes that by pioneering the registry, Princeton will get points in the sustainable state program and be able to re-certify as silver if not achieve the gold certification in sustainability.

About Erica Chayes Wida

Erica Chayes Wida is a writer, mom, and complete zealot when it comes to poetry, paella and globe collections. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, Erica moved to Italy where the seasons and old architecture inspired her journey back to the East Coast. Since then, she and her husband have created a nest egg locally and, over time, developed a rather grand love affair with the town of Princeton. Erica is senior editor at The Princeton Sun and enjoys fulfilling her Princeton affections on a daily basis. | View all posts by Erica Chayes Wida