Thrift trumps eco-awareness as ‘sustainability’ spreads
By Kevin Walters • THE TENNESSEAN • March 19, 2010
FRANKLIN — Richard Perko says he’s no poster boy for the green movement.
So, how is it then that the president of Franklin-based Lee Co. came to find himself supporting Franklin’s Live Green Partners initiative kickoff this week?
Simple: Any ideological debate over the environment was left at the door of Puckett’s Grocery Wednesday morning. But the financial impact of using two-sided paper, recycling or turning down thermostats won the day.
“I don’t think we have to have the climate discussion first, which is the polarizing issue behind the green movement,” Perko said. “To me, this movement, from a business perspective, is just about being a good business person.”
The Lee Co., which is a home services/facilities solutions company, was among the 126 companies to inaugurate Franklin’s Live Green Partnership during a kickoff news conference this week. It’s a simple program that promotes companies using any of a number of steps to reduce things such as paper and electricity use. As a reward, companies are rewarded with a certificate and a window sticker to build awareness of what they do.
Though it’s a small step, the Live Green Partnership is the latest in a growing number of green-related efforts Franklin has launched. This summer might be the biggest, as Franklin’s first blue-bag curbside recycling program gets a tryout.
At a time when national debate about the environment is more sharply divided than ever, Franklin officials are stressing the economic worth of taking on sustainability-related steps, not the environment itself.
“Right now, no one knows if we’re having global warming or not,” said Mayor John Schroer. “You can’t argue (that in) a 100 years from now, our landfills will be better . . . though I think there’s truth to that. But you can really say ‘do this today and it will make a difference to your bottom line.’ It may not be great, but it will make a difference.”
One factor that might also be driving more interest now than ever before is that there’s growing interest in the community.
“The movement was already here in Franklin,” said Alderman Ken Moore.
Moore led a task force of more than 30 people last year to craft a citywide sustainability plan that includes a host of measures such as reducing waste sent to landfills and cutting energy use, among other things.
Companies large and small found similar ways to reduce waste.
At Mars Petcare in Cool Springs, employees recycled enough plastic bottles to create 2,700 small-breed dog sweaters, said Angela May, community affairs manager. Teams of employees created a plan to spur greater environmental consciousness, May said.
Meantime, the smaller family-owned Puckett’s Grocery restaurant in downtown Franklin did its part by turning off kitchen equipment at night, lowering thermostats and using more local farmers for some produce and meat
“You don’t have to be some high-end restaurant,” said Claire Marshall, manager. “It’s the little things, too.”
Contact Kevin Walters at 615-771-5472 or email@example.com.