By Rick Coates
Going Green may seem trendy or the hip thing to do right now, but soon
businesses may not have an option, it may be law.
While many businesses are incorporating self-imposed green initiatives,
laws are popping up all over the country mandating everything from reduced
energy use to required recycling laws, to the elimination of plastic
One of the last bills Governor Granholm signed before leaving office was
the PACE law (a loan program for businesses) giving municipalities leeway
to create local green initiatives. Last month the Ann Arbor City
Commission approved several green initiatives for their community, further
suggesting that Michigan is transitioning from optional to mandatory
green practices. Businesses who start going green now may find it easier
in the future and a Traverse City based organization has been established
The Michigan Green Consortium (MGC) was founded in the fall of 2008 as a
trade association to promote and encourage environmentally-responsible
businesses in the region. The MGC evolved out of discussion of a few
business owners in Northern Michigan who were familiar with similar
organizations in other states.
We are a consortium of member companies that all have one common goal and
that is businesses need to be committed to protecting the environment,
said Ella Cooper-Froehlich, board chair and one of the co-founders. Our
members either produce a green product, provide a service that has
sustainability at its core or they just conduct their day to day business
with stewardship of the environment in mind.
The organizations focus is encouragement versus discouragement or
We want businesses to get involved and join regardless of their level of
current environmental commitment, said Cooper-Froehlich. What we see as
these types of businesses rub shoulders with others, they start becoming
more eager and inclined to increase their level of commitment to being
green and add environmental initiatives into their business model.
EVERY BIT HELPS
Board vice-chair and founding member Mike Hasman of Hasman Restoration has
been in business for over 20 years and believes that businesses are smart
to start adopting green practices now.
It is better to do this voluntarily because at some point it will be
forced on us all legislatively, said Mike Hasman. I was a tree hugger
way back in the 70s when it wasnt so cool. The MGC is about improvement,
not perfection. No one is completely green, so start out small -- every
little bit helps.
The MGC mission is to create awareness for their members in the community,
while also promoting green initiatives throughout the region. Membership
is $25 annually and the MGC holds monthly mixers as well as larger events,
including their annual community Clean Up & Green Up each spring.
These monthly events called Green Connections, take place at one of our
members businesses and it is essentially an open house with tours,
refreshments and often a speaker, said Cooper-Froehlich. These events
also play a key role in another aspect of our mission, and that is
educating our members and the public.
What MGC members are excited about is the diversity of the membership.
We are essentially a green chamber of commerce. We have dry cleaners,
construction entities, banks, waste management companies, energy
providers, realtors and more, said Cooper-Froehlich. This diversity is
great and important because all businesses are able to do something to
become environmentally friendlier.
While the MGC is currently operating in Northern Michigan, they plan to
expand statewide soon.
Northern Michigan is our first chapter, said Cooper-Froehlich. We are
currently working on developing other chapters throughout the state but
Traverse City will remain the headquarters.
Membership starts by filing out an application online and answering a survey.
We want to assess where new members are at in a variety of areas from
current green practices to current energy uses. We want to find out if
their business has national or international green initiatives they are
following, said Cooper-Froehlich. At some point we hope to put together
some certification standards for companies who dont have industry
standards in place.
The MGC realizes that going green sometimes seems unachievable or
overwhelming for some businesses.
Being 100% green in everything you do is virtually impossible for any
business, regardless of size, said Cooper-Froehlich. The MGC is really
focused on being inclusive. We want new members to understand that, even
if you start small with a simple company recycling program or replace
fluorescent lights with compact fluorescent light bulbs or manage water
usage. What new members find is this is a very supportive and helpful
group, not a judgmental one.
Mike Hasman agrees.
There is really no reason for a business not to be a member, said
Hasman. This is a great network where a lot of ideas are shared. More and
more consumers are making purchasing decisions based on businesses who are
committed to green practices.
The next Green Connections event will take place May 18 at the Cambria
Suites in TC. For info on Michigan
Green Consortium, check out their website at www.mgconline.org or call