The buzz about Tampa's Sustany Foundation

A look at a group that's promoted sustainability in restaurants and other bizes since '07.

click to enlarge The buzz about Tampa's Sustany Foundation - Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
The buzz about Tampa's Sustany Foundation

Lynn Pham started a home garden for herself, and for a better understanding of the ingredients used at her downtown Tampa restaurant, Bamboozle Cafe.

The garden also played a role in Pham’s sustainability practices, when she started taking home vegetable scraps from work to use as compost.

Composting to reduce the restaurant’s waste, tinting its large front windows and changing light bulbs to lessen electricity use are among the changes Pham made after receiving suggestions from the nonprofit Sustany Foundation’s Sustainable Business Program.

Sustany, established in 2007, offers scholarships and grants to Tampa merchants, including other food spots like Malio’s Prime Steakhouse and Moxie’s Cafe, in addition to its sustainability program. The Sustainable Buzz fundraiser happening Thursday (which CL wrote about last week) raises awareness about the group.

“Why wouldn’t I want to to be part of this?” Pham said. “Not only is it good for the environment, it’s good for your bottom line as well.”

Janet Hall, a corporate sustainability consultant and member of the board of directors, oversees the organization's sustainable business program.

She said the program involves more than replacing light bulbs.

It’s a systematic approach, analyzing what business owners do and which sustainable practices they want to execute. It becomes a framework for how to improve.

According to Hall, businesses help drive patterns, and if owners apply sustainability strategies, their employees may feel better about going to work.

However, it was difficult to find owners interested in the program, which Sustany began offering in January, due to the misconception that it’s a project without rewards, Hall said. She said more people have said no to the program than yes.

“What we ended up doing was giving [merchants] ideas and looking at places where they could be more efficient,” Hall said. “It really adds up.”

The program — which runs about 12 to 16 weeks and aims to reduce water and energy use, as well as waste — includes sustainability specialist-guided help through assessments, weekly meetings and an energy audit.

Pham is one of 25 business owners involved in the program. She said she’s saved at least $100 each month since implementing her plan earlier this year.

Owners may earn green business certification from the city after completing the program, too. The designation is good for three years.

“Change is hard for people, but if we can approach it in a way that’s beneficial to them, people are more apt to take that more sustainable approach,” Hall said.

At Channelside’s Bamboozle Tea Lounge, which Pham also owns, sippers may bring their own mugs to use. There’s even a customer who stops by Bamboozle Cafe during dinner with containers from home for her take-out order.

Pham has no problem filling either.

“Every little bit adds up,” she said.

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