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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 14, 2019 1 week ago

Award recognizes company's sustainability efforts

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Sarasota-based Children’s World took home a Sustany Foundation award for retail businesses.

Children’s World, a store in Sarasota that sells school uniforms, toys and games, run by husband-wife team Tim and Cynthia Holliday, recently won an award that puts it in rare company. 

The recognition? A 2019 Sustainable Business Award for Retail Businesses from the Sustany Foundation. The other retail business recognized? Lakeland-based grocery powerhouse Publix.

“In retail it was us and Publix, and I certainly love to be associated with Publix,” Tim Holliday tells Coffee Talk.

The award focused on businesses with a commitment to a triple bottom line — environmental, social and financial. In presenting the award to Children’s World, the Sustany Foundation pointed to some of the company’s green business initiatives. Some of the sustainable steps have upfront costs, but to Holliday, it’s worth it. It’s good for the environment and some efforts offer future cost savings for the business.

Holliday says the company has examined everything it does to determine if there are ways to be greener and reduce its waste and carbon footprint.

“We’ve been very aggressive on recycling,” he says. “We try to reuse or recycle everything we have.” That includes paper. He says the business partners with a local printer that collects stacks of misprinted paper and gives it to Children’s World to use the backsides.

The company also worked with a supplier to reduce the amount of plastic products were bagged in. Plus, it has reduced waste from plastic hangers. Holliday says, “If our customers don’t want them or we don’t need them, we recycle with Goodwill so we can put them to use.”

Children’s World, with about 15 employees, has low-flow and automatic turn-off faucets along with landscaping that doesn’t require any irrigation. In its lunchroom, it doesn’t offer single-use products. “We have ceramic plates that we use and wash, silverware instead of plastic forks and spoons, and reusable cups,” he says.

When Children’s World received the Sustany award, other aspects of how the company achieves a triple bottom line were mentioned, too, including efforts to promote a healthy employee base. The business has a health segment in staff meetings and hosts some gatherings as walking meetings. It also supports the community through donations and discounts for nonprofits.

Holliday hopes the award will inspire other small businesses to take steps to improve their sustainability. “Hopefully people look at that," he says, "and go, ‘Hey, I could do that.’”

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