Santa Monica honors eco-friendly local businesses

Leaders of Santa Monica filed into the Sheraton Delfina Hotel in Santa Monica last Wednesday to honor businesses in the area who have made positive changes to the city as well as the environment.

The Sustainable Quality Awards celebrated these businesses in three categories: economic development, social responsibility, and stewardship of the natural environment, according to the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce website.

The awards began in 1995, when the SMCC president at the time, Dan Ehrler, created the awards after his success with a similar program from his work with the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce, according to the SMCC website.

The awards are organized by the SMCC, the City of Santa Monica, and Sustainable Works, an environmental nonprofit organization.

The three big winners of the event were Yogitoes, Tiato & An Catering and Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau who were all awarded the grand prize for leading sustainability in all three of the main categories.

Catherine An, owner of Tiato & An Catering, was grateful for the recognition.

"This is definitely an honor and a personal achievement for me and my family," she said at the event.

Tiato & An Catering is LEED certified, meaning it has been verified as a green building. It was also awarded for its programs and involvement in the community, including discounts for bicycle riders.

Yogitoes, a local yoga product business, was awarded for using recycled materials in their mats, and for donating various yoga products to the San Quentin yoga program.

"I want to thank everybody for the Sustainable Quality Awards, and for acknowledging our 24/7 work in sustainability," said Susan Nichols, founder of Yogitoes.

The Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau was lauded for its sustainable initiatives in tourism, including their biggest accomplishment to date, the Third Street Promenade, which encourages consumers to walk or bicycle-ride locally, according to the awards program.

The Big Blue Bus was also recognized as one of the most environmentally friendly bus lines in the nation.

Actor Ed Begley Jr. and Sheila Kuehl, founding director of the Public Policy Institute at SMC and former California state senator, each received the Individual Stewardship Award.

Begley Jr. praised Kuehl for her efforts.

"Sheila Kuehl has done [a lot] for the environment as well as key issues, such as women's issues and health care. No one understands affordable health care like Sheila Kuehl," said Begley Jr.

"He lives in a solar powered home, he drives an electric car," said Kuehl as she introduced Begley Jr.

"He had an electric car back when," said Kuehl. "This is a guy who not only walks to walk but talks to talk."

Simon Luca ManiliComment