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Business owner saves money, environment

WorkSmart program helps businesses make changes that reduce their impacts on the environment
General Editor
   Madras Coffee Station has become the first local business to join the WorkSmart program and owner Teresa Leno is hoping her example will encourage other businesses to join.
   She learned about WorkSmart last spring at the Redmond Home Show where the group was demonstrating composting bins, and while there, made an appointment to have her business evaluated.
   Run by the Bend Recycling Team, WorkSmart is a program that helps businesses make changes which reduce their impacts on the environment while saving money at the same time.
   "It's really a cool thing and I'm implementing almost all the things they've recommended," Leno said, noting she's already seen cost savings by reducing her water usage.
   To join WorkSmart, businesses pay a $25 fee, plus $1 for each full-time employee ($150 maximum), and program director Melissa Toney then does a work-site assessment. She draws up a checklist of recommendations of ways the business can save money and become more efficient.
   Power and water-saving suggestions for the Coffee Station included turning off electrical signs at night, turning down the hot water heater, putting low-flow aerators on all sinks, putting a displacement device in the toilet tank, turning off lights in unoccupied areas and the walk-in cooler when its not being used, lowering the ceiling, and converting from an incandescent to a fluorescent lighting system.
   There were also many ideas for ways to make Leno's business environmentally-friendly.
   "We make a lot of garbage down here and I don't like the idea of it all going into the dumpster," Leno said, noting she is going to try composting the store's coffee grounds and vegetable peelings at home to use as fertilizer for her yard.
   Her checklist suggested she recycle coffee syrup bottles, purchase organic coffee, offer a discount to people bringing their own coffee mugs, buy milk in a bulk dispenser rather than individual gallon jugs, switch from Styrofoam to paper take-out containers, buy nontoxic cleaning supplies, use dishcloths and cloth towels rather than paper towels, and ask to be removed from junk mail lists.
   "I used 15 to 24 jugs of milk a week before I switched to bulk milk. That alone has saved me $100 a month, besides me not having that plastic to recycle," Leno pointed out.
   She mentioned that many of the changes she's made at the Coffee Station she's applying at home too for even more savings.
   A Recycled Products Purchasing Cooperative has formed to help businesses buy in bulk and locate suppliers of recycled paper products. There is also an internet SWAP site where all sorts of unusual items like Leno's Torani coffee bottles can be marketed.
   Consumer preferences are another factor for considering WorkSmart. "I've had customers ask me if I recycle or if my coffee is organic and questions like that made me think more about it," Leno related.
   Over 50 organizations have enrolled in WorkSmart since it started in 1997, the group reports. During the last four years those organizations have saved $135,000 annually, 121,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, 84,000 pounds of materials, and 180,000 gallons of water.
   Participants include Deschutes Brewery, Central Oregon Community College, Royal Blend Coffee, Mountain View and Bend high schools, Prineville and Redmond COIC offices, Newport Market and Sunriver Resort, to name a few.
   Since Leno has only implemented changes at her business in the last 30 days, she said she will have a better idea of total cost savings after 90 days.
   "The idea is to become more environmentally conscious, better use the resources we have, and reduce my costs. I hope other businesses in town will jump on it and do the same thing. It doesn't matter how small you are," Leno said.
   Interested businesses can contact Toney at 388-3638, or Leno for more information at 475-6044.