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Three Businesses Named ‘Climate Action Leaders’

By Eric Valentine

Leaders of the Climate Action Coalition meet at the Natural Grocers store in Hailey last fall. In the photo are Scott Runkel, Gretchen Basen, and Elizabeth Jeffrey, three of the four CAC planning committee members. Photo credit: Rob Lonning

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The late anthropologist Margaret Mead made that statement roughly 50 years ago, long before global warming or climate change was in the American vernacular. Today, Hailey has an emerging organization that’s trying to help and to highlight folks who are doing exactly that—whatever they can in the micro to improve things on the macro.

Last week, the Climate Action Coalition of the Wood River Valley (CAC)—a not-for-profit group of concerned citizens working to develop community awareness and action on the imminent threat of climate change—launched its Climate Action Leaders program. The program selected three businesses to highlight for their implementation of sustainable practices.

“These are businesses who, on their own initiative, took steps to be better stewards of the environment,” said CAC founding member Rob Lonning. “We want to show folks how this is possible and focus on the people who are just doing it.”

The three honorees are: The Senior Connection, Hailey Coffee Company, and Konditorei Restaurant.

The Senior Connection

According to the CAC, The Senior Connection was honored thanks to the work of Teresa Beahen Lipman, The Senior Connection executive director. Working with her staff, Lipman developed a program that helps meet the needs of Valley senior citizens while adopting a number of sustainable practices.

Specifically, through the donation of garden produce by local farmers Dick and Melinda Springs, along with the assistance of Mardi Shepard and Peggy Grove. This has allowed The Senior Connection chef and nutrition director Brian Ahern to create nutritious meals that have been served in-house and delivered to over 700 senior citizens in the Valley. Through creative menu planning, Ahern was able to reduce food waste and send the compostables back to the Giving Farm where they will add to the richness of the garden soil. Instrumental in this recycling process was facilities manager Eliseo Gonzalez.

Hailey Coffee Company

For over five years, Santos Serva has been running the Hailey Coffee Company and during that time has worked hard to make his establishment environmentally friendly. Among the many programs the Hailey Coffee Company employs to reduce its carbon footprint are:

● Roasts coffee beans locally

● Uses in-house ceramic, reusable mugs

● Installed LED lights

● Uses a programmable thermostat

● Flattens and recycles cardboard

● Uses organic milk

● Ingredients for pastries are purchased locally

– baked in in-house ovens

● Strives to minimize use of single-use plastics

● Uses a drip irrigation system on the property

Konditorei Restaurant

The Climate Action Coalition of the Wood River Valley has also chosen Matt Robinson, manager of the Konditorei Restaurant of Sun Valley, as a Climate Action Leader. Robinson had already been recognized as a Hero of Sustainability in the resort industry nationally by the National Ski Areas Association. He is known for incorporating sustainability into every aspect of his operation, earning him a 3-Star Certification by the Green Restaurant Association—the first in the ski industry. He does all this by using locally-sourced food and energy-efficient appliances in the restaurant and is an active voice in the community encouraging businesses to take steps toward sustainability.

Community members are encouraged to follow the group’s meetings on Zoom. Details can be found at Haileycac.org, which is the CAC official website. 

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