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Does "Going Green" Make Sense For Businesses?[Part_1]

Several area businesses are trying to implement geo-friendly practices, despite the initial costs of "green" products often being higher than regular products. For many people, however, "going green" pays off in more ways than one.

Swing open the door to the Coffee Ethic on Park Central Square early morning, and you might catch the sound of coffee beans just going into the grinder.

The aroma of freshly-brewed specialty coffee awakens the senses and permeates the hardwood floors and brick walls of this new downtown coffee shop.

But those who enter through this door are also entering a realm where each and every business decision is based on a philosophy. Co-owner Jim hamilton says the ethic is based on three things: caring about the cup, caring about people, and caring for the earth.

And it's that last element—caring for the earth—that is our focus in this Sense of Community segment.

Hamilton doesn't like being labeled as "green." He says that label means something different to everyone.

But he and his business partner, Tom Billions, have certainly taken the earth's well-being into consideration in determining how they operate here.

The to-go cups are bio-degradable corn plastic and the cork sleeves which slide over the cups are harvested from tree bark which grows back every few years.

And they don't waste much around here: they give away their used coffee grinds to local gardeners who use them as compost material.

And he was right. The hardwood floors—complete with a small patch of original cement flooring where an old department store display used to stand—were perfect for the ambience they wanted to create. And they've got their sights set on incorporating other earth-friendly products.

Aha...that brings us to the issue of the price tag. There are few people who wouldn't

like to buy the best and most environmentally-friendly products the market has to offer.

But "green products" are often more expensive, and as a business, you've got to stay afloat.

Hamilton's view of profit, however, takes in more than just one type of currency.

And yet, ethics alone don't pay the bills.

Hamilton agrees—he says he and Billionis obviously have to take cost into consideration. But another factor driving their decisions is the toll it will take on the earth. Hamilton says it's all about doing what you can as you go, no matter how little.

He said one economic boost comes from customers who share the same values.

Hamilton encourages others to follow The Coffee Ethic's lead in making caring for the planet a priority.

"You develop your philosophy, then you have to live by it. For one, it makes running a business more than just a business. You're making a difference in the lives of your customers and the community you live in," he said.

And as their bio-degradable coffee cups say on them, they're making a difference, one cup at a time. For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.