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Small businesses see benefits in going green

A man puts grapes in a basket.

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JEREMY HOBSON: The United Nations' climate summit is underway in Cancun. And the expectations for what will come out of it couldn't be lower. That has some people looking in other directions for answers to climate change. Some small businesses are moving ahead and finding that going green helps their bottom line.

From the Marketplace Sustainability desk, Adriene Hill reports.


Adriene Hill: Badger Mountain Vineyard in Washington state has all sorts of enviro-cred. The winemakers grow organic grapes; they get cooking oil from local restaurants to make bio-diesel for their tractors; they have solar panels on their tasting room. They are finished pressing their grapes for the season; the leftover bits will be composted. The juice has stained their equipment the pinky-purple color favored by pre-teen girls. But they aren't just making choices that are good for the environment. Most of them are also good for their bottom line.

Take their decision to box their organic wine.

Greg Powers: With the boxed wines, it was a way to tap into a new market. But afterwards you're thinking, this works pretty well for the environment as well.

Greg Powers says the boxed wine market has been good, really good.

Powers: We sold our annual projection in the first quarter.

So, Franzia was on to something. Powers says boxes are good for wine -- it stays fresher longer, the wine isn't exposed to air when it's opened. And boxed wine is good for the environment because there's less waste, less heavy glass to transport.

Sustainability for a small business means taking environmental steps, but also means taking steps to insure your business lives long and prospers. Something's Greg's dad, Bill Powers, knew when he decided to try to grow grapes organically.

Bill Powers: When we first started, boy I'll tell you, everyone acted like I was kind of a nut you know.

He did it because he saw other farmers getting sick and was worried about his son and the other young men working in the farm. Now he's proud -- at least as proud as a modest farmer can be -- that other grape-growers have cut back their chemical use based on his example. He found what a lot of small business owners are discovering, that there are ways to rethink their product that's good for business and the earth.

I'm Adriene Hill for Marketplace.


So no cap and trade but we do have Marketplace's very own Tip and Trade, where you can swap environmental tips.

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

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