August 5, 2008

Dollars & Change: ‘Going Green’ to Save ‘the Green': Local Business Supplies Restaurants With Environmentally Friendly Goods

By Dennis Taylor, The Monterey County Herald, Calif.

Aug. 5--One way to cope with the challenges of a problematic environment and a sagging economy, Carolyn Swanson decided, was to start a business that teaches others how to "go green" and save money.

And it helps, of course, if your brain is already wired that way.

"I'm kind of frugal," admits the Pacific Grove woman, whose one-year-old business, Passion Purveyors, is growing fast. "I'm constantly asking myself how my grandma or grandpa would have done something, because that generation of people knew a lot of ways to save money."

How frugal is she? After graduating from Washington State University in 2003, she worked two jobs to save money for her wedding. Then, she and her fiance, Brandon Swanson, opted instead to elope -- a

money-saving decision that provided enough to bankroll her new business.

The concept of Passion Purveyors is multi-pronged, but geared heavily toward distributing environmentally friendly goods -- example: compostable packaging to replace Styrofoam -- to local restaurants and offering their owners a lot of ways to cut down on waste, to shrink utility and garbage bills, and to reduce the carbon footprint of their businesses.

"The economy obviously is hurting a lot of sectors of the business world, but the green sector is thriving," Swanson said. "Seems like people are ready and willing to listen to new ideas and learn how to shift away from their old habits."

She practices what she preaches. Among her more than 60 clients,

some are located as far south as Big Sur or as far north as Santa Cruz, and delivery expenses to those locations kept rising with gas prices. So Swanson cut a "carpool" deal with another local company, Monterey Sanitary Supply, which is happy to haul her stuff with theirs for a small fee. More efficiency, less expense, smaller carbon footprint.

Swanson takes her attitude home at night. She keeps a full water bottle in her toilet tank, which saves water with every flush. She and her husband walk rather than drive whenever they can, which not only cuts down on gasoline bills and tailpipe emissions, but has trimmed their waistlines. They eat out less often than they used to -- a money-saving decision -- and throw away fewer table scraps. Most discarded leftovers go into a worm bin, where the squiggly creatures turn them into compost. The end-product, Swanson said, is much better fertilizer -- and better for the environment -- than Miracle-Gro and similar petroleum-based products.

"What I've found, most of all, is that people are excited about the whole idea," she said. "They like the concept, especially when they find out that it doesn't always cost more to do things the right way."

For information about Swanson's business, see

Dennis Taylor can be reached at [email protected] or 646-4344.


To see more of the Monterey County Herald, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Copyright (c) 2008, The Monterey County Herald, Calif.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For reprints, email [email protected], call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.