Local businesses find that sustainable is attainable
By Allie Rykken
Transition Town-All Saint Anthony Park focuses on individual action and community strength. As a part of that group, I want our neighborhood to demonstrate what personal action can do on a collective scale.
But a large part of our neighborhood identity comes from our institutions and businesses. How can we support them to make sustainable practices that are good for the earth, community and the bottom line? I believe most people would choose the earth friendly option, given the right resources.
But who has time to dig into all of the specific resources that could help our local businesses transition toward efficient energy and infrastructure, waste management, water conservation, landscaping, transportation and work culture?
Well, apparently, I did! And my research led me to create a website called www.attainable-sustainable.org. With help from fellow volunteers at Transition Town-ASAP, we launched the affiliate website in May.
For example, Bizrecycling.com offers free consultations on waste management and recycling, with grants up to $10,000. Xcel, MnTAP, EnergySmart and EnerChange offer free energy assessments and audits, rebates and financing. And you can quickly assess your water footprint at Watercalculator.org.
I also wanted to hear what people are already doing, and this has shaped a storytelling section of the attainable-sustainable.org. website. Visit the “Stories” page to read about initiatives happening close by. Here are a few from our local breweries:
• Dual Citizen Brewing Co., 725 Raymond Ave., donates leftover grains to Black-owned regenerative farm TunTum BlackHill, diverting waste from landfills and making some very happy chickens.
• Urban Growler Brewing Co., 2325 Endicott St., provides fully compostable take-out containers, pollinator-friendly landscaping (partnering with the local Wildflower Project) and a farmers market in their parking lot.
• Bang Brewing, 2320 Capp Road, started the Organic Brewers Alliance, created a delicious cream ale out of perennial grain Kernza® and offers returnable bottles. Buy at the brewery (or at retailers like the local Little Wine Shoppe) and trade the bottles back next time. Visit for yourself to see their efficient barn-like taproom and native gardens!
Meanwhile, local and sustainably focused businesses often find ways to integrate climate action with social action. They include:
• The Good Acre, 1790 Larpenteur Ave. W., was created as a sustainability benchmark for food hubs across Minnesota, from its business model to its building and landscaping. But its priority is people. This past year, with the help of partnering organizations, Good Acre created a program (LEAFF) that buys fresh produce from Black Indigenous People of Color farmers and donates it to metro-area hunger organizations. Good Acre also assists a network of 50, small, family farmers with sustainable growing methods and land stewardship.
• Landbridge Ecological, 670 Vandalia St., is a woman-owned company whose mission is to restore and support landscapes and ecological systems that foster healthy habitats and resilient communities.
Several years ago, Landbridge moved into the sprawling complex that used to house the Pirtek Company. The owners made extensive energy-saving renovations including adding insulation and replacing the roof, fixing up the bricks, replacing lights with LEDs, insulating the boiler and pipes and installing rooftop solar.
With extra space in their building, Landbridge’s owners invited other socially conscious business and nonprofit tenants to join them. Now the “Universe Buildings” are home to groups like Monarch Joint Venture, which researches pollinator habitats, and Elpis Enterprises, which teaches homeless youth job skills. There is also a hip-hop dance studio and free work spaces.
• Bro-Tex, 800 Hampden Ave., participates in a form of recycling they call “Midwest Floating Island,” producing man-made islands created from recycled plastic bottles. These floating ecosystems improve water quality by removing nitrate, phosphorus and ammonia, provide a place for pollinator plants to grow, offer refuge for wildlife away from the shore and reduce algae growth. The islands keep 3,000 bottles out of landfills per 100 square feet of wetland.
Find more stories and resources at Attainable-Sustainable.org.
Allie Rykken is a volunteer with Transition Town All Saint Anthony Park and serves on the board of the Saint Anthony Park Community Foundation.