TRURO - Two Truro businesses have been rewarded for doing what is right for the environment.
The Clay Café won the small business of the year award, while Truro Sanitation and Casey Concrete shared the innovation in waste reduction honour at the Mobius Environmental Awards luncheon Tuesday in Halifax.
"I guess you can kind of call us the recycle police," said Jaime Rhae Oudemans, who has owned the Clay Cafe in Truro for three years.
The business has clearly marked recycled bins and the three-member staff takes great pride in educating customers to place the items in the appropriate bin. If customers put things in the wrong place, staff corrects the mistake. For birthday parties, staff encourages patrons to bring paper plates as opposed to plastic.
It is a conscious effort to reduce the waste that started with recycling paper and collecting recyclables.
"As time went on we had quite a significant amount of paper towel waste" from the bathroom and studio, Rhae Oudemans explained. "It seemed to me awful, where we were doing all that good stuff at home, to not being doing it here too."
By adding a couple of compost bins it reduced the amount of garbage from five bags to one per collection period. It is just one of the things the company is doing to reduce its waste and be more efficient.
"We reuse just about everything," she said.
That includes cardboard boxes, craft paper, newsprint and bubble wrap to package customers' creations instead of using plastic bags.
It reduced the number of times it fires its kiln from five to three, added a new ventilation system to make the process more efficient and added timers to its lights.
Rhae Oudemans was surprised, but honoured, by the award.
"It just makes you feel good. You're helping the environment and making a difference," she said. "It's super awesome to be recognized for something that everybody should be doing anyway."
In 2008 Truro Sanitation and its parent company, Casey Concrete, started researching using glass as an aggregate, similar to sand, in concrete.
Truro Sanitation's general manager Bob Brown said one of its customers, Kohler Windows and Glass, asked it to try to find an alternative to the glass it was sending to the landfill.
Production of concrete blocks started two years later and since then more than 3,000 metric tons of window glass has been diverted from landfills.
"It's something more customers are looking for – products that do contain recycled material," said Bruce Casey, a senior manager with Casey Concrete. "Concrete has kind of been the same ingredients for a long time, so to be able to introduce something new is exciting."
The glass is in different concrete products, including blocks pads and driveways. The blocks offer some appearance improvements while also benefiting new buildings being constructed to LEED standard.
Brown said through a few different projects, it is now diverting 25 per cent of the material that would have ended up at the balefill three years ago.
"It's great to be recognized by the stakeholders in the industry," he said, "that what we're doing is not only a good business venture, but it's appreciated from an environmental standpoint."