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Happy Earth Day!

by Jennifer Palmer Published: April 22, 2013

For Earth Day, I’m re-posting this story from Thursday on the city’s most eco-friendly retailers. Green Oklahoma is a resource for anyone looking to find an eco-friendly business. The site has a directory with everything from carpet cleaners to clothing stores. Check it out at www.greenokla.com.

Some Oklahoma City retailers treat every day like Earth Day

BY JENNIFER PALMER

Published in The Oklahoman April 18, 2013

For many Oklahoma City retailers, it’s easy being green.

Well, not always easy, but it’s something so ingrained in the business that it’s more than just the products or services they sell, it’s how they operate.

Environmental activist Lisa Sharp in 2010 began compiling a list of eco-friendly businesses in the state and the result is Green Oklahoma, a website that includes a directory of these companies.

Among them: maid services, dry cleaners, composters, recyclers and baby stores.

“I wanted to put it all in one place so everybody could easily find it,” Sharp said. “The site has grown a lot. People seem excited to be able to find this information more easily now.”

Eco-friendly business

Here are a few eco-friendly businesses in Oklahoma City:

• The Changing Table. The cloth diaper and baby store opened in October on the west Interstate 240 access road between Western and Pennsylvania Avenues after being an online-only business for several years. The retailer primarily sells cloth diapers and offers unique programs like newborn diaper rental and a trial program for parents interested in trying different kinds of diapers, said co-owner Elizabeth Pilgrim. They also seek out locally made diapers and other products.

Pilgrim said becoming a parent is often a turning point for people wanting to be more green.

“Sometimes when people have babies, they are more aware of it because they are bringing this little person into the world,” she said.

• Well Maid. Cleaning green is how Well Maid operates, using natural, nontoxic products, essential oils and reusable microfiber towels to spruce up clients’ homes. About half of its customers seek out Well Maid specifically because of its eco-friendly methods, and the other half just like the job its employees do, said owner Candace Lockett.

“We’re conscious of it on every level. Our brochures are printed on recycled paper. All our employees are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles,” she said.

• Fertile Ground. Terry Craighead co-founded Fertile Ground last year by offering a compost service to restaurants.

The company picks up food waste, turns it into compost and eventually, plans to sell the finished product. Restaurants pay for the service because it offsets some of the cost of trash pickup.

Fertile Ground has added residential composting, which costs homeowners $29 a month. Their bucket of food scraps is picked up once a week and they receive finished compost. The company has also begun doing compost consultations and garden planning.

• Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma. Since moving its headquarters in 2010, Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma has greatly expanded its recycling program, adding plastic, paper, cardboard — even plastic foam and computers, said Chief Executive Chris Daniels. And they still recycle textiles and shoes.

About 40 percent of donations to Goodwill are sellable, and only a third of that actually sells. That’s why the organization has been working to find an environmentally responsible way to dispose of the rest. In the past two years, the organization has recycled 10 million pounds of items per year, Daniels said, reducing the company’s waste to less than 5 percent.

“There’s a responsibility: an environmental responsibility to keep the items out of the landfill, a fiduciary responsibility to not spend money on throwing things away, plus a responsibility to the donors because they are taking the time to bring the items to us,” he said.

So not only can donors drop off their unwanted clothing, but those pieces of plastic foam from their new refrigerator or the old desktop computer taking up space in their home can be taken to any Goodwill store or donation center in central Oklahoma.

• Green Bambino. Owner Morgan Harris pioneered eco-friendly retailing in Oklahoma City with her store, Green Bambino, which opened in 2010. She started out mainly with cloth diapers, and those still comprise 40 percent of sales. But recent additions to the inventory include Lullaby Earth crib mattresses, which are Greenguard certified and recyclable, and Clek convertible car seats, which are made with a less toxic waterproofing and flame retardant and can be sent back to the company for recycling.

Harris’ commitment to being an eco-friendly business doesn’t stop there. Store displays were built with salvaged materials, a full recycling station is set up at the back of the store and Harris shops locally whenever possible.

“It was important for us to practice what we preach,” she said.


by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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