From April 17 to April 22, BC’s Office of Sustainability hosted their 24th annual Earth Week, which was filled with events reflecting their “Resilience in Action: Stronger Together” theme. They offered workshops, speaker presentations, volunteering opportunities and more. On April 18, they hosted an Earth Market and Tabling event showcasing organizations and local businesses.
I visited the market and spoke to six small businesses about how they got their start and how they practice sustainability as businesses. Harvard Business Review reported on the increase in discussion on environmental, social and governance aspects of businesses starting in 2021. This was prominent amongst large companies, with now more than 4,500 companies taking action through science-based targets or net-zero commitments, but it also extended to small business practices.
According to Forbes, over 99.9% of businesses across the US are small businesses, which accounts for 33.2 million small businesses. In 2022, in Seattle alone, there were over 100,000 small businesses and the city was ranked as number seven in the 10 best cities in America to start a small business.
Present at the Earth Market and Tabling Event were Baloo’s Barkery, Happy Body Soaps, Askatu Bakery, Gourmet Blends, Shipwreck Apiaries and Dillanos Coffee Roasters.
Baloo’s Barkery is a pet retail shop selling dog treats out of Bothell, WA. The owner and her daughter started the business in honor of their late dog, Baloo. They sell dog cookies, donuts, muffins and even “chicken and waffle” treats made with chicken and waffle-shaped biscuits. They practice sustainability by using eco-friendly packaging and organic and minimal ingredients in their treats.
Happy Body Soaps is a Bothell-based soap and skincare brand. They focus on products for sensitive skin after the owner’s experience dealing with it. About 10 years ago, she started creating her products, and the business grew, expanding from friends and family. They use sustainable local ingredients and suppliers, zero plastic packaging, and no artificial dyes or fragrances.
Askatu Bakery by Liberated Foods is an allergen-free bakery in Seattle. They make products free of wheat/gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts/tree nuts, corn, potato, sesame and xanthan gum. Owner Estela Martinez created the business after her oldest daughter was born with many food allergies. She couldn’t find recipes and foods that were free of all of her family’s allergens, so she created her own. They use sustainable flours that require less water and can survive in droughts, as well as eco-friendly packaging.
Gourmet Blends is based out of California, but has distributors in states like Washington. The business produces balsamic vinegars and olive oils from original to a variety of flavors. They use recyclable glass packaging and compostable sampling spoons and bottles.
Shipwreck Apiaries is a 4th generation family beekeeping and honey business in Ravensdale, WA. They produce raw honey, beeswax candles, soaps, beeswax food wraps and more. The company focuses on logistical and holistic, sustainable business by being a zero-waste company. They use all of the bees’ by-products and glass packaging.
Dillanos Coffee Roasters is based out of Sumner, WA and started as an espresso cart in 1992. David Morris, along with his stepfather, Howard Heyer, and brother, Chris Heyer, expanded the business as a wholesale coffee roaster. They practice sustainability by working with coffee producers throughout the world and supporting the farmers every year. They make sure to use ethical and reputable importers and exporters for their business.
For students interested in learning more about business and business practices, check out BC’s School of Business and Technology. The college also offers career resources at the Center for Career Connections. Additionally, the City of Bellevue offers a variety of resources and workshops for small business owners and those interested in starting them.