We started by looking at the work done by the nonprofit Sustainable Connections (www.sconnect.org) in Whatcom County which recognizes business practices that lead to strong community, healthy environment, meaningful employment, and buying local first. The linkage of businesses and organizations that seek a “triple bottom line” as described by B Corporation (www.bcorporation.net) was seen as a model we might explore for San Juan County.
Creating a sustainable business program for San Juan County depends on several issues relative to the question: “what is an environmentally sustainable or a green business”? Generally accepted, a green business is one that complies with environmental regulations applicable to the particular business sector and implements best management practices to reduce the use of energy, water, toxic and hazardous materials.
We also looked at the green business model of Coop America (www.coopamerica.org) for language to express our values. We explored the EnviroStars model (www.envirostars.com) and the Clean Marina (http://coastalmanagement.noaa.gov/marinas.html) programs. Finally we looked at the existing sustainable business certifications that are currently being used in the County.
Several existing certifications are currently being used by businesses in San Juan County to portray environmentally responsible practices. So-called “eco-certifications” are essential for principled green markets along with greener public policy and reliable public information systems to inform consumer choices related to sustainability.
There are basically three categories of eco-certification.
- THIRD-PARTY INSPECTED. The first type is based on criteria set by a third party, reviewed both by content and practice, and inspected by an independent entity. This “third-party inspected” certification derives legitimacy from the standards established and reinforced through on-site review. Existing inspected certifications include the Green Marina program, Salmon Safe wineries and the United States Department of Agriculture program (and the Washington State Department of Agriculture that administers it) for organic products and farms.
- THIRD-PARTY PLEDGED. The second type of certification is based on producers’ or retailers’ declarations using an established set of criteria. These certifications are also based on third party standards, but the designation depends on the documentation the producer or retailer provides to the certifying entity. The “third-party pledged” businesses in the county are enrolled in such programs as Coop America’s Green Business Network, The Green Hotel program, Island Grown Farmers Cooperative, and the Islands Certified Local program.
- SELF-CERTIFIED. The third category is those businesses that are based on ecologically responsible principles and practices but have no outside review; thereby “self-certified” is an appropriate designation.
Following are some of the eco-certifications being used in San Juan County:
GREEN HOTELS ASSOCIATION (http://www.greenhotels.com/) members are inns and bed and breakfasts committed to conserving water and energy and reducing solid waste. Use products designed to minimize environmental impact, including water conservation items, recycling bins, and cards asking guests to re-use towels and sheets. (Third Party Pledged.)
- Hillside House B&B – San Juan
- Inn at Ship Bay - Orcas
- Turtleback Farm Inn - Orcas
- Harrison House Suites & Tucker House Inn– San Juan
- Juniper Lane Guest House – San Juan
- Doe Bay Resort & Retreat/Doe Bay Cafe - Orcas
ISLANDS CERTIFIED LOCAL (ICL) (http://sjcarc.org/certified.asp)was created by the San Juan County Agricultural Resources Committee to recognize the efforts of local food establishments that buy from local farm producers. The designation implies that products were locally produced under organic standards (although not necessarily certified). (Third Party Pledged.)
- Coho Restaurant – Friday Harbor
- Steps Wine Bar & Cafe – Friday Harbor
- Harrison House Suites & Tucker House Inn– San Juan
- Garden Path Café – Friday Harbor
- The Market Chef – Friday Harbor
- Roche Harbor McMillin's Dining Room – San Juan
- Longhouse Bed & Breakfast – San Juan
- Duck Soup Inn – San Juan
- The Kitchen – Eastsound (Orcas)
- Inn at Ship Bay – Orcas
- Doe Bay Resort & Retreat/Doe Bay Cafe - Olga (Orcas)
- The Daily Veg Café – Eastsound (Orcas)
- Roses Bakery Café – Eastsound (Orcas)
- Vortex Cafe & Juice Bar Lopez Village
- Blossom Grocery – Lopez Village
- Shaw General Store
CERTIFIED CLEAN MARINAS reduce and properly manage hazardous waste; conduct marina operations with the goal of protecting the environment; educate boaters on clean boating practices; demonstrate innovation and Environmental Leadership. (Third Party Inspected.
SALMON SAFE (www.salmonsafe.org) helps vineyards protect and restore salmon habitat by planting trees on streams, growing cover crops to control run-off, and apply natural methods to control weeds and pests. The certification program can also recognize farm operations that adopt conservation practices that help restore native salmon habitat in Pacific Northwest rivers, wetlands and streams. (Third Party Inspected.)
- Lopez Island Vineyards - Lopez
Members of the ORCAS ISLAND GREEN BUSINESS ALLIANCE believe that a sustainable future will require a transition to a local living economy based not on consumption of imported resources but of renewal and restoration of land and natural resources. The group accepts each business’ own criteria for sustainability. (Self-certified.)
FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL (www.fscus.org)certification was created in the 1990s by environmental and social groups, foresters and landowners to provide consumers with a rigorous, independent system for identifying products from ecologically, socially, and economically well-managed forests. (Third party Inspected.)
- Youngren Forest – Orcas
- Corbin Forest - Orcas
To qualify to appear in the COOP AMERICA NATIONAL GREEN PAGES™ and carry the Seal of Approval, companies' representatives must demonstrate that they: actively use their businesses as tools for positive social change; run "values-driven" enterprises that operate according to principles of social justice and environmental sustainability; are socially and environmentally responsible in the way they source, manufacture, and market their products and run their offices and factories; and are committed to developing and employing extraordinary practices that benefit workers, customers, communities, and the environment. (Third Party Pledged.)
- Mariposa Indigenous Arts – Friday Harbor
- Nonprofits Unlimited – Friday Harbor
- Organic Gift Shop (Internet sales) – Eastsound Orcas
ISLAND GROWN FARMERS' COOPERATIVE (www.igfcmeats.com/3.html) provides USDA-inspected beef, lamb, and pork. Criteria for all products is: feed must contain no antibiotics, hormones, steroids, or animal content. Beef and lamb are grown out with grass and/or legumes only. (Third Party Pledged)
- Lopez Homestead Farm - Lopez
- Lopez Island Farm - Lopez
- Mitchell Bay Farm and Nursery – San Juan
- ZLazyJ Farm – San Juan
- Sweet Grass Farm Beef - Lopez
The NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM (NOP) develops, implements, and administers national product handling, and labeling standards for organic agricultural products. The NOP also accredits the certifying agents (foreign and domestic) who inspect organic production and handling operations to certify that they meet USDA standards. Businesses can earn accreditation for farming practices and for products. (Third Party Inspected.)