While empty buildings and slower foot traffic have heavily impacted Arizona’s small businesses, many are taking advantage of the times to implement cost-effective sustainability projects through the Local First Arizona SCALE UP program.
From energy to waste, here are two of the businesses taking part in building the regenerative economy, which prioritizes the health and well-being of all people and the environment.
Imago Dei Middle School
Imago Dei is a small, independent, tuition-free private school in downtown Tucson that offers grades 5-8 for children from low-income families. Learn more at www.imagodeischool.org/THREAD.
How They SCALE UP:
T.H.R.E.A.D. (Together for Hope, Resiliency, Empowerment, and Development) Project, a new small business partnership established between Imago Dei Middle School and local Tucson-area refugee entrepreneurs, has allowed for refugee partners to sew fair-trade, all-cotton face masks to donate and sell in Tucson, and they receive 100% of the funds raised. Since March 2020, they have sewn 20,000 masks and earned $70,000.
Already, THREAD is reducing energy by sourcing and producing all materials locally (purchased/donated cotton for masks, thread, sewing machines), which cuts down on the energy needed to create and also transport materials long distances.
Ultimately, Imago Dei’s project is supporting its ongoing efforts to break the cycles of poverty while ensuring greater equity and sustainability goals are met for the community.
BRINK is a Tucson-based, purpose-driven strategy and creative agency that uses design and technology to elevate communities and culture. Learn more at www.brink.com.
How They SCALE UP:
Already, BRINK has worked towards a culture of sustainability, energy efficiency, and waste consciousness.
Through SCALE UP, they helped establish a formal internal Green Team so employees can take ownership of the sustainability improvements, and develop a green culture in their business.
To help waste reduction, BRINK focused on local procurement, including reducing Amazon purchases by 50%—and creating a community garden/cool corridor space with composting facilities.
In the community, they want to increase their involvement around social and climate justice, especially in the immediate neighborhood and with the homeless population.
The first SCALE UP 2020 graduate cohort includes Witnessing Nature in Food, Natural Building Works + Harris Herman Enterprises, Local First Arizona Community Kitchen, Pop Cycle, Good Eye Living, International Traditional Knowledge Institute Foundation, Sustainable Tucson, and Project Greenhouse.