Small Businesses Convene To Discuss Fight Against Climate Change

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The Ohio Sustainable Business Council, the Village Bakery, and the American Sustainable Business Council met Thursday at the Village Bakery on E. State Street to discuss how small businesses are fighting climate change.

“We can’t stop it on our own but I feel, as businesses, we have more responsibility than the individual and we do have more capability than the individual does,” said Village Bakery co-owner, Christine Hughes.

Hughes was one of seven speakers at the event. Her store has two 10-Kilowatt solar panel systems on the roof. The systems help them produce more energy on their own, so they don’t have to buy as much from the local power grid. She said they’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars and reduced their fossil fuel use by almost 50 percent.

Athens County Commissioner and farmer at Integration Acres, Chris Chmiel, also spoke at the event. He is currently working to get an electrical aggregation issue passed at the November general election. He says it’s a necessary ballot item that will have a positive impact on the community.

"If that passes, it’s estimated one to $2 million a year will be saved on people's electric bills in Athens County,” he said. “With the process of getting the other initiatives going such as energy efficiency and local renewable energy production, we're probably going to be able to generate more jobs, more tax revenues, quality of life, and all that stuff at the same time."

Coordinator of the OSBC, Megan Howard, said that celebrating what small businesses such as the Village Bakery are doing is important.

“We are having a lot more extreme events due to climate change and you can see this by just looking at the weather patterns that have changed significantly over the course of even my lifetime,” she said. “The most important thing is to mitigate further effects from human inputs.”

She also said that demanding legislation is key.

“Our renewable energy standard here in the state of Ohio has been improved but can be further improved and I think that if we are able to do that we will see there will be a lot of positive effects throughout the state and a lot more recognition of climate change as an issue”

Other speakers included representatives from Third Sun Solar, Fox Natural Builders, Haulin’ Hoof Farm, Green Edge Organic Farms, Rural Action’s Zero Waste Initiative, an Larry Conrath Real Estate.