Businesses Doing The Right Thing

BY ON May 19, 2014

Family eating pizza

It’s easy for families to become overwhelmed by climate change. However, it’s crucial to remember that we can all have an impact as individuals when our actions become collective.

Even in a town as hectic as New York City, I have come in contact with businesses that are making a commitment to ensure that personal responsibility is an integral part of their practices.

I happened upon a restaurant called Pizza by Certé. Despite a wide array of offerings from sandwiches and salads to soups and handmade pasta, I went for a basic Margherita slice. It wasn’t until I sat down and looked around that I saw a mission statement on the wall. It emphasized a “dedication to consciousness,” and stated, “If you are a pizza lover you can now enjoy a slice made with the environment at heart.”

I had to learn more, so I connected with P.J. Jordan, Certé’s Director of Client Relations, who walked me through the restaurant on behalf of owner Chef Edward Sylvia.

Jordan told me that Sylvia came to the issue of “eco-friendly” food preparation because of his children. He was concerned about the future livability of the planet, as well as how processed foods were affecting young kids. Our children pay the price of fast food with their health. As fast food is linked to asthma and allergies, two illnesses exasperated by air pollution.

Sylvia spent twenty-four months working on his conception, with a year devoted to developing his pizza dough recipe. His goal was to promote awareness and preference for the “slow food” viewpoint that he supported.

green_boxCerté’s sustainable practices had me hoping that their vendors could be the wave of the future. They use “Eco-Pizza” packaging from Greenbox. The utensils and paper goods are biodegradable, and made from recyclable materials. Plates are reusable bamboo; drinking cups and containers are made from plant derivatives. Certé uses rainwater for “non-consumption” purposes, and all their deliveries reach their destinations by foot or hybrid truck. They have a “green wall” where fresh basil is grown. The cooking equipment has top Energy Star ratings. Jordan told me that Certé had received a “3 Star Certification” from the Green Restaurant Association. The restaurant composts each week in Brooklyn, where they maintain their own bin. Working to achieve a minimal carbon footprint. Jordan said, “It’s all about doing the right thing.”

And this makes a difference because according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, industrial and commercial energy use (from such sources as electricity use, product transportation, industrial processes, burning fossil fuels to power boilers and produce steam, and using gasoline to power vehicles) accounts for nearly 30 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

A questionnaire ascertained that 50 percent of customers responded positively to Certé’s green values. Beyond their efforts, the food speaks for itself. The flour is unbleached and unbromated. Only fresh tomatoes and cheese are used. In the spring and summer, local produce is purchased. Ciagels, which are bagels made out of pizza dough, are top sellers. They are served with scallion ricotta or “housemade” strawberry preserves.

Why am I sharing this delicious story on a website that focuses on keeping children safe and healthy from pollution? Because, it’s the principled attitudes and values of businesses like Pizza by Certé that keep me hopeful about the future. Consumers need to speak up with their pocketbooks and their voices to support those who are making sustainability a building block of the way they do business, while helping to protect our families.

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TOPICS: Allergies, Asthma, EPA, Food