Montana State University’s Pollution Prevention Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have recently presented awards to small businesses across the state highlighting their pollution prevention efforts and statewide leadership.
The EcoStar awards program, now in its 20th year, recognizes Montana businesses that support environmentally and economically sustainable communities by preventing pollution, or “P2,” through efforts such as conserving water, energy and clean air.
“Pollution prevention efforts have positive results for businesses, including creating a safer working environment, reducing hazards to public health and the environment, improving their public image and saving money,” said Jennifer Grossenbacher, director of the Montana Pollution Prevention Program for MSU’s Institute on Ecosystems.
This year’s award winners represent 13 communities across Montana. They are GTUIT in Billings; Boulder Hot Springs Inn, Spa & Retreat Center in Boulder; Happy Trash Can Curbside Composting, Mint Dental Studio, Highline Adventures and Bridger Bowl Ski Area in Bozeman; Vilicus Farms in Havre; Farmented Foods in Kalispell; Soil Cycle in Missoula; Philipsburg Brewing Company in Phillipsburg; and MacKenzie River Pizza Co., which has locations in Bozeman, Belgrade, Billings, Butte, Helena, Missoula, Great Falls, Polson, Kalispell and Whitefish.
“Each year that we apply for the EcoStar Award, the process helps us reflect on the pollution prevention measures we already have in place and how we can continue to improve our green practices,” said Kerri Kumasaka of Boulder Hot Springs.
Grossenbacher said this year the winners cumulatively saved 6.1 million gallons of water, conserved 304,795 kilowatt hours of electricity, eliminated the equivalent of 52,214 metric tons of carbon dioxide and saved $573,837 through their pollution prevention efforts.
Examples include Bridger Bowl Ski Area’s 50-kilowatt solar array and LED retrofit, which will reduce electricity usage by 156,340 kilowatt hours, saving 111 metric tons of CO2 equivalent and $21,192. Additionally, Soil Cycle in Missoula sequestered over 32,000 pounds of CO2 with their bicycle-led composting program, and Havre’s Vilicus Farms eliminated 2,044 metric tons of CO2 equivalent and saved $468,000 by practicing organic farming methods of cover cropping and utilizing green manure rather than synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.
“These EcoStar award winners have once again proven to be leaders in Montana,” Grossenbacher said. “Their P2 work is making a significant impact on Montana’s environment as well as its economy and their own personal pocketbooks. Even more notable than the numbers are their vision, leadership and innovation as well as their inspiration to others, particularly during this challenging past year.”
According to Adrienne Huckabone of Happy Trash Can Curbside Composting, despite COVID-19 and the hardships of the past year and a half, the company has expanded its efforts to grow composting in the Bozeman community and close the local food loop.
“We have begun a working relationship with Bozeman Solid Waste to optimize their compost operations while continuing to grow our own business,” Huckabone added. “We thank all of our Happy compost customers in helping expand our growing network of food waste diversion and local compost creation and distribution.”