Green Champion – Each month we feature a green champion who is making strides in the green community
By Maria Lopez
All across the country, you can often turn to women leading the charge against climate change: Greta Thunberg with youth, Wu Changhua in business, and Sunita Narain in advocacy. In Arizona, you can turn to three who are moving mountains in their own right. More importantly, you should support them with your dollars to keep this strong community of environmental leaders growing.
Northern Arizona: Flagstaff
Cara Corbin, Owner
We do the usual: recycle, reuse and reduce our use of plastics, but are you doing the same for food? In the Flagstaff area, Cara Corbin has been advocating for a greener lifestyle through her work with the City of Flagstaff’s Sustainability team. Now, she is getting her hands even dirtier with her new composting business. Corbin Composting offers an alternative to the landfill for residents of Flagstaff and local restaurants and food businesses that are conscious of where their waste goes. The
composting process turns veggie leftovers, coffee grinds, eggshells, and other organic matter into a soil that provides great nutrients for gardens and landscapes.
It is also one of the best ways to reduce our individual eco-footprint as organic matter that gets sent to a landfill creates methane, a very harmful greenhouse gas. Corbin does the heavy lifting for you by providing pick-up service from homes and businesses, so you can do your environmental good deeds easily and with peace of mind.
Southern Arizona: Tucson
Nicole Koch, Co-owner
Technicians for Sustainability
612 N. 7th Ave., Tucson, AZ 85705, www.tfssolar.com, 520.740.0736
Nicole Koch is the co-owner of Technicians for Sustainability (TFS), a Tucson-
based solar installation company that does great things not only for the planet, but also for the community. TFS is a certified B Corporation, which is a rigorous process that recognizes companies that operate with People, Planet, and Profit at the forefront.
Taking care of the planet comes naturally to them, with a greywater system providing reused water for irrigation, recycling, and repurposing a significant amount of materials; a robust bike-to-work program for staff; local and sustainable purchasing; and of course, harnessing the sun’s energy to power much of their facility. Koch is also leading the charge on the People component and has restructured the company as an employee-owned cooperative in 2017. Plus, they pass the sunshine along! For each referral you send their way that results in a new TFS customer, they’ll donate $100 to your favorite nonprofit, in your name. People in the community also served by Koch and the TFS team are Tucson schools and more. They even built a solar-powered mobile movie theater van in partnership with The Loft Cinema.
Greater Phoenix Area: Tempe
Sherri Barry, Co-founder
Arizona Apparel Foundation
132 E. 6th St., Tempe, AZ 85281
Sherri Barry is bringing attention to local, sustainable fashion through the Arizona Apparel Foundation. In an industry that is infamously documented for its negative environmental impact, Barry and her team help slow down the fashion footprint by offering a local solution to creating clothing. Through the Arizona Apparel Foundation, she provides a welcoming space where designers can bring their products to life through incubator programs that focus on education, consulting, and design development.
Their Tempe facility was recently recognized through the Local First Arizona Green Business Program for their efforts in reducing and recycling waste, practicing energy efficiency, opting for eco-friendly materials in their shipments and operating programs. For example, the ReFABRICate line of apparel is made from leftover material, and they created a partnership with The Centers for Habilitation to create tote bags made from used event banners and fabric scraps. Barry has also been recognized as Business Woman of the Year by the Tempe Chamber of Commerce.
These are just three of the incredible women making an impact in our state—some deal with composting in the snow up north or powering businesses and schools down south. But they all care about protecting and using Arizona’s assets for generations to come. Our independent spirit makes us the perfect place to act on innovative ideas and inspire others to do their part in paving the way for a more resilient state. To find more green businesses to support, visit www.az.greenbiztracker.org.
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Maria Lopez is the communications manager for Local First Arizona, a coalition of more than 3,000 local, independent businesses, and nonprofits working to promote, support, and celebrate a vibrant and sustainable Arizona economy by educating citizens about local business ownership, social equity, cultural diversity, and environmental impact. More at www.localfirstaz.com. She’s passionate about building a better state by engaging everyday people in local issues and by highlighting businesses and community leaders who love their home and want to take it to new heights.