University graduates, students helping to make C-U a little greener

Trisha Bates, owner of Cakes on Walnut, 114 N Walnut St. is taking sustainability seriously in her business. She uses compost, unprinted paper cups for her cupcakes and recycled paper napkins and boxes. She also helps make her business more environmentally-friendly by hiring the Illinois Green Business Association to help achieve green certification.

The Illinois Green Business Association (IGBA), founded by recent University graduates Mara Eisenstein and Cassie Carroll and Anthony Santarelli, senior in ACES, is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to help area businesses become certified for environmental sustainability.

“A business owner is busy running the business and might not have time to do everything required,” Carroll said. “We help facilitate through the entire process.”

IGBA helps businesses achieve the group’s green business certification through the use of a checklist of prerequisites that covers nine general areas of sustainable practices.

“There are both required and optional green management practices on the checklist,” Eisenstein said. “The business must satisfy the required part as well as some of the optional areas, which allows for flexibility.”

The group continues to help the businesses in other ways by identifying areas of improvement, measuring operational performance and obtaining financial incentives. They also educate the public about the green practices in place at the business.

“We market them as a green business and we put an educational poster on the business’s wall,” Carroll said. “The customer can walk out of the store and see that they can be part of this.”

Bates thinks that their help will reflect positively on her business.

“I think it will definitely be worth it to work with them,” Bates said. “We will communicate better to the community that we are interested in being green.”

The inspiration to implement this program stemmed from involvement in campus environmental organizations.

“It all stemmed from realizing that we wanted to unify campus and the local community in a bigger way,” Carroll said. “And through business leadership we were able to do that.”

The group also has a board to help in managing their work.

“We have a vast diversity of different community leaders that give varied input,” said Eisenstein.

IGBA has an executive committee comprised of Mike Royse of One Main Development, Don Schlorff of Busey Bank, David Wilcoxen of University Facilities and Services and Dick Warner of the University Office of Sustainability.

“The executive board is a huge part of the decision making process.” Eisenstein said.

The IGBA is currently in the pilot stage of their program. In the next few months, they will be working with 15 businesses in Champaign, Urbana and Savoy.

Other goals the group has include working with the University to hold seminars and have a hand in University classes. They also hope to work on program development.

“Over the next few months, we want to solidify our policies,” Eisenstein said. “We want to make sure that certification is achievable and realistic for the business owners.”