Eco Friendly Startups in Boulder County

Published on: April 25th, 2019

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Let’s be Clear: We’re in a bad way. Mother Earth gave us a home and we trashed it. These local businesses are trying to clean up.

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It took us a little while to realize that humanity’s glorious inventions of the past created cataclysmic climate change for the future. The consequences, now, are obvious and worsening. As water levels rise, temperatures spike to new highs or plummet to new lows, and more animal species go extinct or become endangered, one thing is clear: the damage is done, and everyone on earth is paying the price. Generations to come are doomed. Or…are they?

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On a positive note, there absolutely is hope for the earth’s future and – if the local business community has a say – we’re going to save the earth. With the awareness that we need to pitch in to avert disaster, people are stepping up. Boulder’s fame as an environmentally friendly city is widespread, so it’s no surprise that startups focusing on combating climate change are founded here. The folks who found these eco-friendly companies are driven by a passion to lend Mother Nature a helping hand. Some create products made to reduce the impact we have on the environment. Some tweak commonplace items to make them eco-friendly. These businesses incorporate efficient and low impact ideas in every way, from offering employees bus passes to creating an office space with bamboo floors.

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These companies are B Corporation certified, or aiming to be. B Corporations “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.” There are currently 2,788 companies with the coveted certification. Startups, large and public companies, and related entities can apply online, and they must meet certain legal requirements and complete an assessment. It is a serious process with high standards. Some environmentally friendly companies in Colorado are B Corp certified, and rightfully proud to be.

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Ocean First

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Let’s dive in with Ocean First (pun intended), the place to get dive certified! Boulder seems like the last place you’d learn to scuba dive, considering Colorado is landlocked. Like most sports, Colorado is an amazing place for this sport for endurance training, especially for lungs. Ocean First, located off South Broadway, provides dive certifications and swimming lessons to children and adults. While their B-certified building appears small, Ocean First’s commitment to the environment is anything but. The solar panels outside are the first eco-friendly indication, followed by the interior bamboo floors, low VOC painted walls, and LED lights. “We did a retrofit of our pool, so it filters out more contaminants allowing us to use a lot less chemicals” pointed out Marlee Glasgow, marketing director of Ocean First. “We use bromine instead of chlorine, which is less harsh on skin and the environment.”

Ocean First knows the importance of educating kids about marine conservation and environmentalism. “We have a big emphasis as a company on youth education so kids can become ocean stewards early on,’ Glasgow said. When they organize group trips, they minimize their carbon footprint by working with companies in other countries that embrace the same environmentally friendly principles.  Events at Ocean First feature cuisine served with compostable products. The company adopted a section of the diagonal highway, where they host cleanups. Employees receive a subsidized eco pass, and many participate in bike to work day. Ocean First supports other environmentally friendly companies in the community, like Refill Revolution, to get supplies for events.

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Speaking of Refill Revolution…

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Brittney LaGesse founded Refill Revolution, which sells sustainably packaged household items, clothing, pet accessories, body care products, and more. LaGesse is passionat about reducing waste and embracing business tactics that enable others to do the same. Some of the products are delivered in pouches that consumers can send back after use.

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A pioneer in eco-friendly product innovation is Eco Products. The Boulder based company, founded in 1990, creates food service disposable products including cups, plates, and silverware. All of their products are made from recycled materials, and many are compostable. The company’s founders saw the enormous potential in the oxymoronic-sounding industry of “sustainable disposables.” They now supply products to local restaurants, coffee shops, and other companies throughout Boulder.

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The Sink Boulder

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Did I just hear myself mention restaurants and pioneers in eco-friendly innovation in Boulder? Why yes, yes I did. One of the establishments without which Boulder would not be Boulder is The Sink. This local gethering spot has been around for over 90 years and offers food and drink while embracing sustainable economic practices. Since 2006, The Sink has used wind power exclusively, and in so doing has reduced its power consumption drastically. The establishment cuts back on water consumption by using low-flow fixtures, low flow sprayers, water efficient dishwashers and 100% waterless urinals. But there’s more: as a part of their standard business model each department uses only compostable or recyclable disposables. They actively recycle and they use high efficiency lighting throughout our restaurant. Lastly, The Sink is cooled in the summer by an evaporative cooling system. Feel better about your burger and beer when you enjoy it at The Sink!

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I and Love and you

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Pets can reduce their carbon pawprint when their owners buy food from “I and Love and You.” The young company conducts business from an office committed to using 100% environmentally friendly cleaning and office supplies. Employees participate in bike to work day. The ingredients found in their cat and dog food are locally sourced as often as possible. Betsy Vajtay, a member of the sustainability committee at “I and Love and You,” pointed out the limitations that come with selling food-based products. “We need to provide packaging to protect the product, but we are looking at improvements and ways to lower our carbon footprint.” They continuously make strides to be more environmentally friendly, and already offer products with non-GMO ingredients and meat from free-range, grass-fed animals.

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A founder of “I and Love and You” went on to build The Pet Sustainability Coalition, a Boulder-based company that helps the pet industry become more environmentally friendly. This startup tracks progress of member companies and ensures they follow sustainable practices.

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Pellman’s

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Although driving doesn’t come to mind as the first way to be eco-friendly (and in fact, we have to get more cars off the road *cough RTD cough*), there are great, green choices. Pellman’s Auto in Boulder can make your car ownership a more environmentally conscious choice. Pellman’s auto is a conscientious choice when it comes to maintaining your vehicle. They’re passionate about caring for the environment and are proud to be a leader in the automotive repair industry for operating a “Green Auto Repair” shop. They have a 194 solar panel array to power their 100% solar powered green facility. They’re certified zero-waste, and they utilize paperless inspection processes while being leaders in recycling and composting. We’re all for reducing cars on the roads, but if you still need yours, this is the spot to go for a positive earth impacy mechanic.

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The Tea Spot

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The Tea Spot is, appropriately, an ideal place for a spot of tea, and another local business embracing environmentally friendly practices. The Tea Spot is a certified B Corp, rightfully so as they use biodegradable tea sachets that they make in house to reduce their carbon footprint. Abigayle Metcalf, a customer service representative for the Tea Spot, mentioned that their Steepware line is “lead and cadmium free” and an “environmentally friendly choice for tea consumers considering the lack of unnecessary packaging and extra labor needed for normal pre-packaged teas.”

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John’s Cleaners

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Many consider environmental impact when deciding where to drop off their dry cleaning. The environment gives its stamp of approval to John’s Cleaners, a dry cleaner entirely powered by solar. While there are multiple locations throughout Boulder County to drop off clothes, they are all cleaned at the first and main store in Lafayette. A little over a year ago, the company installed 140 solar panels to decrease its environmental impact even more.

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This barely scratches the surface of the iceberg of companies in BOCO that embrace sustainable practices. Though they differ in the products they make and services they offer, these companies all have one thing in common. The founders and employees are driven by a passion to protect our environment. This passion is a fire that the proper education can stoke, and not surprisingly, universities in Colorado do just that.

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University of Colorado

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The University of Colorado’s School of Environmental design is a perfect breeding ground for future green entrepreneurs. The most recent statistics from the university show that annually, it diverted 2,900 tons of recycling and compost from landfills. In November of 2004, the school committed to the Zero Waste International Alliance principles. These principles include implementing eliminating “all discharges to land, water, or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.” Events throughout the year inform and encourage potential and current students on environmental information, often regarding ways to land a career in sustainability. One way is to enroll in the university’s Energy & Climate Justice program, which employs “peer-to-peer education about climate change, climate justice, water, air, food justice, agricultural practices and how to efficiently conserve energy on and off-campus.” According to Danny Birel, an employee of the University of Colorado’s recycling services, the school relies “on the student/administrative partnership to make recycling happen on campus.”

 

Through the innovative minds and hearts of green entrepreneurs, the world may not be doomed after all. Supporting environmentally conscious businesses means doing your part to combat climate change and say thanks to the planet we call home.

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