Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the 12 local businesses that won this year’s Sustainable Quality Awards at the 18th annual Sustainable Quality Awards luncheon, held Wednesday at the Sheraton Delfina hotel.
The awards are a collaboration of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, the City of Santa Monica, and the nonprofit environmental education group Sustainable Works.
The Sustainable Quality Awards recognize local businesses that operate in ways that conserve natural resources, often using guidelines set by Sustainable Works. The awards acknowledge achievements in the areas of sustainable economic development, social responsibility, and stewardship of the natural environment. They also are a way to inspire other companies and individuals to adopt environmental measures of their own.
Three grand prize winners – Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau, Tiato restaurant & An Catering, and yogitoes – were honored for their environmental leadership at the luncheon.
The Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau was recognized for its green initiatives in promoting tourism, a key component to a sustainable economy in Santa Monica. Local yoga products company yogitoes uses recycled content and helps the community through a wide range of programs.
Tiato restaurant & An Catering owner Catherine An said she is constantly creating fun programs, such as discounts for bicycle-riding patrons, to get the community involved in sustainability.
Her restaurant was designed with reclaimed material and is located in a LEEDS certified building.
“Business, especially the restaurant industry, is a very consuming industry,” An told The Mirror. “As much as I do love it – it’s the industry I grew up in – at the end of the day, we need to be able to give back to nature and the environment that we take so much from. Whatever we can do to give back to the environment is a plus. It’s a commitment from me to keep greening our business, keep our business sustainable. It’s a continuous learning process as to how we can do it as a community.”
SQA Excellence Awards were given to The Ambrose hotel, Bru’s Wiffle – A Waffle Joint, Central Parking, Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, HGA Architects and Engineers, Hostelling International – LA/Santa Monica, Payroll Centric, Santa Monica Place, and environmental consulting firm Three Squares Inc.
The luncheon featured an appearance by long-time environmental activist and actor Ed Begley Jr., who received an Individual Stewardship Award. Begley praised the city of Santa Monica for its lasting leadership in environmental matters, citing green measures that were started in Santa Monica long before Los Angeles, such as electric buses, curbside recycling, and electric power charging stations.
He said the Third Street Promenade – built for more people and fewer cars – is an example of a green vision that’s good not only for the environment but also for retail businesses.
Begley told The Mirror that his interest in the environment began in the ‘50s and ‘60s, when the smog in Los Angeles was making it difficult for him to breathe, and the pollution in Santa Monica Bay was visible.
“Now, the air started to get cleaned up and we have more people, more cars, but a fraction of the smog we had then,” he said. “And thanks to Heal the Bay, Santa Monica Bay isn’t dirtier now, it’s cleaner. We’ve proven that we can make huge changes like Santa Monica Bay by everybody pulling together.”
Sustainable Works’ Business Greening Program helps businesses reduce their costs, waste, and environmental impact. The program is free for Santa Monica businesses via the City of Santa Monica Office of Sustainability.