SMC Eatery Recognized with Green Certification

On November 17, TCBY/Starbucks, located at the north end of Santa Monica College's cafeteria, was announced as the college's first green business as designated by the Santa Monica Green Business Certification Program (SMGBC).

A joint venture between the City of Santa Monica and Sustainable Works, the SMGBC recognizes businesses that adopt sustainable methods. By displaying a printed certificate, the green business can advertise its efforts to prospective shoppers. The certification is renewed every two years by passing additional inspections.

TCBY/Starbucks owner, Mike Eghbali, has been running the storefront since 1988. He said that he has always tried to maintain an eco-friendly business. Once he learned about the program, he felt compelled to meet the standards required, including the use of energy efficient appliances and recycled products.

"Ninety percent of our plastics are not only recyclable, but biodegradable," said Eghbali. "We try to go a step beyond instead of the minimum requirement."

In a press release, Genevieve Bertone, SMC's Sustainability Coordinator, commented on one practice that Eghbali's store uses in partnership with SMC. "Not only are his coffee beans fair-trade certified," she said, "but used coffee grounds are collected and then composted in the college's industrial vermi-composter, which uses worms to transform food waste into a nutrient-rich compost that is then used to fertilize the campus grounds."

Two years ago, Eghbali began to learn more about sustainability and started to sell Organic-To-Go foods at his store. He also became involved with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and started to make green changes that would later make his green certification easier to attain.

The AASHE is an organization dedicated to the advancement of sustainable methods in universities and higher learning campuses. The organization began as the Education for Sustainability Western Network with a regional scope, but soon became overwhelmed with support. In January 2006, the AASHE was founded in order to provide conferences and events on a national level.

"The seminars are very useful," said Eghbali. "Especially when they bring together ideas from across the country." Although the change called for significant investment, Eghbali believes he is championing a cause that is worthy of the cost.

"Some organizations and businesses are hesitant to get into it because of the cost," said Eghbali. "You have to know what you're getting into. But, if you do it with your heart in it, it's easy."

Also owned by Eghbali is SMC's Coffee Spot, located near Dresher Hall and the Admissions building. It is currently going through inspections and is in the process of making similar changes. Eghbali expects green certification in the coming year.

The Green Business Certificate is currently available for viewing on a wall adjacent to the store. Eghbali is also planning to construct a large bulletin board that will promote green initiatives and educate his customers about advancements in sustainability.

"The students are the future," said Eghbali. "I think it is our responsibility to help deliver a better earth to our future generation."