Champaign’s Big Grove Tavern wins People & Planet Award

Green America announced that two small businesses in Illinois and a third in Florida have won the Spring 2015 People & Planet Award (PPA). The focus of the Spring 2015 PPA Awards was “green celebrations,” specifically small businesses that built social and environmental considerations into their catering and event services.

The three winners, which were selected by the public during a month-long online voting period, are: Big Grove Tavern, Champaign, IL; Collective Resource, Chicago, IL; and Sweet Peas Café, Dunedin, FL.

Alisa Gravitz, president of Green America, said: “We all live lives of tremendous interdependence.  As we celebrate our key achievements and life events, we ought to remain mindful of the environment and the working people all around that have supported us and made our achievements possible. The three small businesses we are recognizing today innovatively help Americans invite those considerations into their celebrations.”

The winning companies are:

  • Collective Resource, Chicago, IL is an innovative composting business that delivers collection containers and returns to pick them up filled with food scraps and other compostable materials. If customers choose to have the company staff their event, Collective Resource ensures the sustainable disposal of all organic food waste, as well as all other waste, including recyclables.
  • Big Grove Tavern, Champaign, IL serves fresh farm-to-table New American Cuisine. Almost 80 percent of their proteins come from farms within 60 miles, and 80 percent of their produce is sourced locally during the summer. The tavern also sources from local dairies and distilleries, uses no Styrofoam, and recycles and composts to minimize waste. With its Give Back Campaign, the tavern has been donating a portion of lunch sales to a different local charity every month.
  • Sweet Peas Café, Dunedin, FL is a community-centered, organic, parent-friendly café located in historic downtown Dunedin, FL. The café has 10,000 square feet of enclosed yard, which has been transformed into a combined play space, eating area, and garden. The yard is surrounded by a NABA-certified Butterfly Habitat and 20 percent of the yard is currently transitioning into a garden where the café will grow its own herbs and vegetables. Sweet Peas Café composts the food its customers do not eat, as well as food scraps, boxes, and coffee grounds from our daily prep work. The café also hosts environmentally responsible parties and community events for all ages almost daily.

Erlene Howard, founder of Collective Resource, said: “All of us at Collective Resource are very grateful to be a People & Planet Award winner. With the assistance of this award, we’ll be able to invest in automated container washing, which will not only increase our service capacity, but use less water while doing so. We’ll be in a terrific place to keep our green work going well into the future. Thank you to everyone.”

Beckie Kane, event coordinator for Big Grove Tavern. said: “We are excited to purchase new equipment that allows us to expand our menu and utilize even more products from local, sustainable farms.”

Danielle Pastore, owner of Sweet Peas Café, said: “We are very honored to accept this award. In a world of conventional restaurant models and business models, it is very challenging for small businesses to find extra resources that will fund ideas that are outside of the box. This award money is really going to be put good use. For four years, we have had a plan to use the west side of the property as an organic garden space where customers are able to eat, party, and play where food is grown. Thank you for helping to make our dream into a reality, to help us to give our customers a unique experience, and for enabling us to set an example not just on a business level but to inspire other to keep their ideas alive.”

The businesses that the public vote on are determined by public nominations and an expert panel of judges: Katie Galloway and Gigi Abbadie, Aveda; Justin Conway, Calvert Foundation; Deven Clemens, Clif Bar; Jenny Burns, Honest Tea;  Jonathan Reinbold, Organic Valley; Martin Wolf, Seventh Generation; and Andrew Korfhage and Fran Teplitz, Green America.


Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America (formerly Co-op America) provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems.

WaterSense H2Otel Challenge Recruiting Rally — Two weeks left

WaterSense needs help spreading the word about the H2Otel Challenge and is counting on its partners and industry stakeholders to reach out to hotels in their areas to tell them how to join and why they should implement water efficiency best management practices.

To incentivize WaterSense promotional partners (i.e., utilities, state/local governments, trade associations, or nonprofits) to recruit hotels to take the Challenge, WaterSense will hold a Recruiting Rally from February 1 to June 1, 2015. The promotional partner that recruits the most hotels to sign up for the Challenge during that time period will be rewarded with free technical assistance. After the winner is announced, WaterSense will host a free water efficiency workshop for the winning partner’s hotel stakeholders and conduct an onsite water assessment at one hotel of the partner’s choosing.

Any organization or individual can recruit hotels to sign up for WaterSense’s H2Otel Challenge, but only WaterSense promotional partners are eligible to earn the free workshop and water assessment. Most recruiting organizations can become WaterSense partners. Learn more about the Recruiting Rally by downloading this flier and learn how to become a WaterSense partner here.

WaterSense provides materials for partners and other organizations to recruit hotels to take the Challenge and promote their participation. Download a recruitment flier to help you get started. Once your organization commits to participating in the Rally below, you will receive ongoing tips and communications about recruiting hotels to join the Challenge. WaterSense partners can visit the partner website for more information on the H2Otel Challenge.

Elsevier announces Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge

As the world’s population approaches 9 billion, the strain on the planet’s resources is steadily increasing.  This demand can only be met by improving production methods to reduce the use of chemicals and the amount of chemical waste.

To encourage researchers to come up with new solutions, Elsevier is holding its first Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge. The winning project will receive a prize of €50,000 with €25,000 for the second place prize.

The Elsevier Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge will open for proposals on 1 June. Participants are asked to submit proposals outlining innovative ideas that advance access to environmentally friendly and sustainable chemical processes or products that contribute to sustainability and are suitable for use in developing countries. The contest is open to individuals and organizations in both the not-for-profit and commercial sectors from all countries.

Projects will be reviewed according to the following criteria:

  • Be replicable, scalable, sustainable and set a benchmark for innovation
  • Have practical applicability
  • Reduce or eliminate the use or generation of one or more hazardous substances, or provide a more sustainable method for using resources
  • Contribute to sustainability
  • Be suitable for use in developing countries

Elsevier’s mission is to assist the research community in finding solutions that help solve today’s most pressing global challenges in health, environment or engineering. With the Elsevier Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge, we want to stimulate research projects in this area and offer a platform for researchers to exchange ideas and collaboratively contribute to society.

AASHE Sustainability Awards Call for Applications

Applications for the Tenth Annual AASHE Sustainability Awards are now being accepted through June 11. During the past ten years, AASHE has recognized leaders from over 60 campuses from across the U.S. and Canada for outstanding ideas and initiatives that are furthering the higher education sustainability transformation.

Award winners will receive one complimentary AASHE 2015 Conference & Expo pass, one invitation to a special reception during the 2015 conference, an opportunity to present your winning submission at the 2015 conference and during the 2016 AASHE Award Winners Webinar Series, and featured in Sustainability: Journal of Record.

There are three categories of submissions.

  • The Campus Sustainability Case Study honors campus projects at AASHE member institutions that promote sustainability in any sector including operations, education, administration and engagement.
  • The Student Research on Campus Sustainability award seeks to honor students from AASHE member institutions who are advancing the higher education sustainability transformation with focused research of any length.
  • The Student Sustainability Leadership award honors student teams from AASHE member institutions who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting campus sustainability efforts.

Apply today for a chance to join this celebrated group and receive recognition and complimentary registration to the AASHE 2015 Conference & Expo. Awards will be presented during the opening ceremony on Oct. 25 in Minneapolis, Minn. Application deadline is June 11, 2015.

Sewer brewers: Oregon beer-makers challenged to use wastewater in recipes

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Some companies boast of making beer with spring water from majestic mountains.

They won’t be competing in the upcoming Pure Water Brew Challenge, in which an Oregon wastewater treatment operator has asked home brewers to make great-tasting beer from hops, barley, yeast and the key, not-so-secret ingredient: treated sewer water.

The point of the contest is not to find Portland’s next trendy craft beer. Rather, it’s an effort to get people talking about how a vital resource can be reused thanks to advanced water-filtration systems.

“Water Is” Photo Contest

The Illinois Water Resources Center’s (IWRC) “Water Is” photo contest recognizes Illinois photographers who have captured what water means for them, their communities, and the state. Winning images will be featured in IWRC materials promoting the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, a new state plan designed to improve local and regional water quality.

The contest is open to the public, including state employees. Professional photographers are welcome to submit entries under a separate category. All participants may submit a total of five images.

All entries must be original work. Previously-published material may be entered as long as the submission includes the date and name of the publication.

Entries must be submitted as high-resolution JPEG files no larger than 8 megabytes. Photos that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization (cropping, color adjustment, etc.) will be disqualified.

Email your submissions to Eliana Brown at by May 21, 2015. Emails must also:

  • Explain what is happening in the photo
  • Identify the location and date the image was taken, including the name of the waterbody if appropriate
  • Identify the category of submission – amateur or professional

A panel of judges will select first place and honorable mention winners.

IWRC will have unrestricted use of all submitted photos and accompanying materials and has the right to use all entries in any future online and print materials. Photographers assume responsibility for obtaining consent from any persons appearing in their photograph prior to submission.