ARCHIVED  April 1, 1996

Businesses embrace tenets of Earth Day

Business and the environment aren’t always considered in the same thought.

But as the 26th anniversary of Earth Day approaches April 22, some say the two go hand in hand — especially in tourism-oriented regions such as Colorado — more than the general public might think.

“A lot of Colorado’s economy is based on recreation and tourism industries,´ said Marie Livingston, professor and chairwoman of the Department of Economics at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. “It’s an example of how business and the environment go together.

“There’s a few areas where it’s very profitable to be green,” she said.

In Northern Colorado, even small T-shirt companies find a niche in Earth Day sales.

“A lot of people ask about Earth Day,´ said Shay Troupe, a clerk at the Mellow Yellow T-shirt shop in Greeley. “Sales do go up in April, both because the weather is warming up and because of Earth Day. I don’t know if there’s a big increase, but people do come in looking for environmental T-shirts.”

And, some large industries now simply view waste or pollution as lost profit.

Livingston has experienced first-hand the environmental cost of industry that ignores the environment. The UNC economist has done work in Europe since the collapse of communism.

“In Central Europe, where they ignored environmental issues, they’re in horrible straights because the cost of cleanup is so much more than the cost of prevention,” Livingston said. “It’s a good, capitalist decision to deal with it upfront.”

Livingston rejects the polarization of business vs. the environment.

“We all have a stake in what happens,” she said. “In Northern Colorado, we really value industries we see as being clean, like Hewlett-Packard and Kodak.

“It’s true that environmental regulations can cost companies money, but if designed properly,” they can be successful, Livingston added.

While no one appears to track the amount of money that so-called “green companies” pump back into Northern Colorado’s economy, it is clear businesses are attracted to the area, because employees want to live here.

“Companies see it as a benefit to recruit employees from the area,” Livingston said, adding that many people are willing to earn lower wages so that they can remain in the state.

Earth Day, begun in 1970, fueled creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. Locally, celebrations will be held to commemorate the event.

Colorado Public Interest Research Group’s Jennifer DeWoody is co-coordinator of Colorado State University’s Earth Day events.

“The big event is set for April 20th at City Park,” she said. “Campus-related activities will begin on the 22nd.”

The City Park event will last from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will include music, guest speakers and more than 100 booths.

Food vendors, including Alfalfa’s, Wild Oats and the Fort Collins Food Coop, will offer refreshments.

“It’s a great way for the community to know what students and businesses are doing,” DeWoddy said.

If the weather holds, organizers expect up to 10,000 people to pass through City Park that day.

“Last year, it snowed, so we only had 3,000,” DeWoddy said. “But we’ve had 10,000 in the past.”

Other campus organizations, such as the Parking Management Office and the Environmental Learning Center, are planning Earth Day activities.

Jim Patruzzi, associate director of the Environmental Learning Center, said this year’s theme for celebrations at the center is Arts Fest ’96: Multicultural Environmental Celebration. The April 22 to 28 celebration will include American Indian dancers and drummers and international food.

The center’s farm — on East Drake Road, one-half mile past Timberline Road — will host a living history.

In Greeley, events will be held April 20 on UNC’s West Campus, between Caldonia and McKee halls. Vanessa Peters, with the University Program Council, said the celebration featuring live music, guest speakers and local vendors will begin at 10 a.m.

This is the first year the large Earth Day celebration has been held on campus. In the past, Hewlett-Packard Co. has hosted it, but the gathering has gotten too large, Peters said. UNC organizers hope for about 5,000 people to attend.

Companies such as Hewlett-Packard continue to be involved in Earth Day themes, though.

Mike Kelley, public-relations manager for the Greeley plant, said there will be an emphasis on biking to work April 22. A breakfast will be provided for biking employees.

Also, a van pool will kick off during the week of the 22nd. Kelley said a park-and-ride concept will be implemented for Greeley employees who live in Loveland and Fort Collins.

Spokesmen for Hewlett-Packard’s Loveland and Fort Collins plants said no special events are planned there but emphasized the company always encourages its employees to be environmentally responsible.

Also during Earth Week, Laser Wolf, a Fort Collins toner-cartridge recycler, will wind up a drive to collect 26 tons of spent cartridges, a campaign also sponsored by The Northern Colorado Business Report. Businesses and individuals can drop spent cartridges at any Kinko’s, Wal-Mart or Alfalfa’s locations in Fort Collins.

Business and the environment aren’t always considered in the same thought.

But as the 26th anniversary of Earth Day approaches April 22, some say the two go hand in hand — especially in tourism-oriented regions such as Colorado — more than the general public might think.

“A lot of Colorado’s economy is based on recreation and tourism industries,´ said Marie Livingston, professor and chairwoman of the Department of Economics at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. “It’s an example of how business and the environment go together.

“There’s a few areas where it’s very profitable to be green,” she said.

In Northern Colorado,…

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