By Arlene Castro
Our carbon footprint can leave a heavy mark on Earth, but many Guam residents and local businesses have shown efforts to make the tread lighter by finding ways of going green. Guam households can even stay out of the red by going green. Stay tuned for a future article about the 10 Things To Do in Guam to Go Green and Save Money.
Local Businesses Going Green on Guam
For several years, this grocery store has been encouraging local residents to reuse biodegradable bags by providing incentives. Bag Your School allowed the customers who reused biodegradable bags to pick a school and the one with the most entries was awarded $5,000. Design A Bag was open to schools and the public and two winners each scored $200-300. Every Wednesday at Pay-Less Supermarkets is Mission Zero Bags. Only brown paper bags and green bags are used to bag groceries. The Mangilao location boasts eco-friendly features. The permeable parking lot is designed to allow water to filter through the porous asphalt removing pollutants before percolating into the ground. They have receptacles for recyclable materials and installed a lighting and refrigeration system that is energy-efficient.
Coast 360 Federal Credit Union
The most visible eco-friendly architectural design on Guam was an investment worth about $15 million along the Maite cliff-line. The goal of this ambitious idea was to set an example for local business to aim for “sustainable design in construction.”
The building is equipped with motion-sensor lights that are activated when a person enters an area and shuts down when no motion is detected. Windows have shutters to reduce the heat of direct sunlight from entering the building, but allows for some sunlight to enter, providing natural lighting during the day. Furnishings have some form of recycled components in the walls, carpets and chairs. The exterior is landscaped with an eclectic variety of plants that can be found growing wild by beaches, and other low maintenance plants commonly found in local residences. The green roof over the drive is not only a winding path between gardens, but it helps to extend the life of the roofing membrane and soak up storm water. There are also rainwater catchment systems in place and a charging station for electric cars.
The shopping bags are such an ubiquitous item around the island that it has helped the local community practice the reuse portion of the recycling program—with style. Schoolchildren find all sorts of use for these bags. They use it to carry extra school supplies and materials, to pack lunch, or find it a less bulky gym bag, while parents use it to carry paperwork or a dish to a potluck party. It’s also been seen to carry a few diapers and even some beach gear. The bag can also be reused at any of their shops and they will give back a $.25 credit.
DNA owner Jude Baker is well aware that plastic bags make up much of the landfill and take an even longer period of time to break down. According to Bright Hub Inc., plastic bags may remain intact after 1,000 years if there is no exposure to a light source but if there is, the breakdown may still take about 500 years.
Unfortunately, it often costs companies like DNA Evolution more to go green, but Baker is fine with that. “It costs more money to make and ship in the green bags, but we know that we are sending a message and leading with the example of a green shopping bag. We will continue to do so.”
The extra expense the business has undertaken with the bags is met with great success as a promotional tool and greater is the awareness it provides that being environmentally responsible is not only good business sense, it’s practical. For the youth, it’s the “hip” and “fashionably cool” thing to do.
The local surf shop owner acknowledged, “We all need to try to take small steps to make a difference with — to quote former pro-surfer, singer, songwriter, and environmentalist Jack Johnson — the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.”