Businesses in Vt. city team up to reduce waste, save money

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April 22, 2013, 4:44 pm
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(NECN: Jack Thurston, Burlington, Vt.) - Every Monday, a small team of employees from the Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington, Vt. fans out, visiting other businesses up and down the city's busy downtown retail district, the Church Street Marketplace. The workers for the store that sells jackets, backpacks, hiking equipment and more hunt boxes left over when retailers unpack merchandise from suppliers.

Kitchen store Kiss the Cook has plenty to get rid of.

"It does help a lot for someone to actually come and take it away for us, free of charge," said Jennifer Lyons of Kiss the Cook, who handed the Outdoor Gear Exchange staff dozens of cardboard boxes Monday.

Instead of filling the private dumpsters of the kitchen store and the other stores on Church Street, the Outdoor Gear Exchange workers take all the packing materials they find back to the store's basement. The retailer also operates in cyberspace, shipping about 100 orders a day nationally through GearX.com, it said.

Pretty much all those purchases are sent in boxes picked up from neighbors on those Monday expeditions, explained GearX's shipping manager, Rich Norford.

"This is creating less trash," he said, smiling. “The [recycled] boxes aren’t always pretty, we call them ‘ugly boxes,’ sometimes, but they get the job done!”

The simple concept is just one way Vermonters have devised to keep the Green Mountain State "green." A clean environment is really key to Vermont's identity, from Lake Champlain's pristine waters to the state's famous ski hills.

Now, Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington, wants to use that green reputation as a marketing tool to convince more businesses to locate here.

"It's definitely part of what people think of when they think of Burlington, is it being a green city," Weinberger told New England Cable News. "And I think we need to keep working so that remains how people know us around the country."

Weinberger predicted businesses that put the planet first will find plenty of peers in Burlington, like the Outdoor Gear Exchange, which found recycling packing materials is also good for its bottom line. Asked by NECN how much it would cost for the company to buy all its own boxes and packing paper, Norford chuckled, "I don't even know how expensive, because we don't have to!"

Tags: Green, Lake Champlain, Burlington Vermont, Jack Thurston, church street marketplace, green mountain state, earth week, kiss the cook, jennifer lyons, outdoor gear exchange, gearX, rich norford, mayor miro weinberger
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