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A Farewell Message from Michelle, Green Business AmeriCorps Member

During my term with the Green Business program, I contributed to the program's goals and engaged with several local businesses to help them be more sustainable. I took over planning and leading the monthly networking events and supported the other Environmental Outreach program's events. I joined the Strategic Energy Management team and encouraged employees via the internal newsletter to adopt behaviors that would reduce each building's energy consumption. I took the lead on planning the first volunteer tree planting event that the Green Business program hosted and selected the Watershed Alliance and Urban Forestry as partners. Our goal for participation was at least ten people. Due to the advertising and personal invitations, it ended up being the largest volunteer event of the year for the Watershed Alliance, with 73 participants!

I loved working on all the Green Business projects. It really felt like the work that I did made a difference and was beneficial to the community. I even started to do outreach during my personal visits to local businesses and investigated the inquiries I received about recycling and composting. I helped encourage Kafiex Roasters – Coffee Lab to make the step to certify as a Green Business. Other businesses plan to start the process to certify as a Green Business based on my recommendation.

Before COVID-19 struck, I had started working on the biggest project for my term of service. I was spearheading the business outreach to spread the word about service offered by Waste Connections to collect food scraps for composting. The State of Washington has a goal to reduce food waste by 50%, relative to where it was back in 2015 and Clark County is supporting that by composting more so that food will stay out of the landfill. I established an action plan and had already found several businesses during my outreach that were interested in exploring what it would take to compost.

When the outbreak hit, everyone started working remotely and we were not able to do any in person business outreach or events. To fill up the extra time, I took on some shifts at the Clark County Food Bank, Fish Westside Food Pantry of Vancouver, and the Salvation Army Food Bank and helped distribute food to the community. I also assisted Clark County Public Health with some deliveries for people that have COVID-19 so that they didn't have to leave their quarantine. I picked up medications for them and dropped of thermometers so that they could track their temperature. It felt good to be able to support my community during this crisis. I was truly able to serve myself by serving others. 

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