Local businesses celebrate Earth Day with deals

MANATEE — Recycling is a key part of John Desrosiers’ business, so the president of One Stop Landscape figured he ought to promote Earth Day in a big way today.

The yard waste recycling facility, at 2560 Whitfield Ave., will give away 1,000 Florida pines and 1,000 bags of compost to celebrate the 40th Earth Day.

At the same time, Desrosiers figures he can take the opportunity to market his business to those picking up a free tree.

“When they get here, they’re going to get an earful about us,” Desrosiers said.

The Manatee County company is among several today that will use Earth Day to reach out to consumers about their environmentally-friendly business practices.

“Just a few years ago, ‘going green’ became common parlance in the corporate world, and Earth Day-themed advertising really proliferated,” said Andrew Shapiro, founder and president of Green Order, a sustainability strategy consulting firm based in New York.

However, Shapiro said as “going green” gains more popularity, businesses need to make consumers aware about their sustainability practices on a daily basis to separate themselves from competitors.

“As sustainability becomes increasingly core to business and culture, once-a-year Earth Day messaging is no longer enough,” Shapiro said.

But Shapiro also warns that business promotion of Earth Day needs to be done with caution.

“There has to be substance behind the message or companies risk having Earth Day become an environmental (public relations) crisis, not an environmental PR achievement,” Shapiro said.

Desrosiers said while One Stop Landscape’s tree giveaway will be an opportunity to market his company, the initiative behind it is to educate the public on the environment.

“Earth Day fits right in with our recycling and green practices,” said Desrosiers, whose company makes mulch, compost and soil out of recycled land and yard waste. “We wanted to do a program like this to make people aware that trees are valuable.”

Large companies such as Publix and Winn-Dixie, too, plan to promote Earth Day today.

Winn-Dixie will begin selling a new reusable bag that is made from recycled material and Microban, a material that prevents stain and odor bacteria.

Robin Miller, spokeswoman for Winn-Dixie, said the store is introducing the new tote on Earth Day to raise awareness about the store’s efforts to be more eco-friendly.

The Jacksonville-based grocer recently received the Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill certification, which recognizes stores that choose to use environmentally friendly commercial refrigeration systems.

“We are committed to increasing and enhancing our sustainability efforts in every area of our operation,” Miller said. “It’s all part of being a good neighbor on both a local and global level.”

To attract the environmentally conscious consumers, Shapiro said businesses need to make sustainability a part of everyday marketing goals.

“Today, most large enterprises are communicating with consumers on environmental issues every day, not just on Earth Day,” Shapiro said.

Shannon Patten, spokeswoman for Publix, said the Lakeland-based grocer follows that rule by placing promotional materials in the store about its recycling programs, reusable bags and energy efficient practices.

In addition, Publix is making its stores more environmentally responsible.

The Publix at 8300 Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota received Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, the first Publix store to receive the certification for sustainable practices.

Today, Publix will donate $40,000 to the Arbor Day Foundation and issue coupons for natural and organic products to promote Earth Day.

“We are passionately committed to eco-savvy practices, and every day we are looking for ways to conserve resources and be a responsible citizen in the community,” Patten said.