Amici's Pizza in Berkley specializes in going green

If it isn't easy being green then it definitely isn't easy becoming green either. That is the lesson Jennifer Stark and Maureen McNamara are learning while making their Amici's Pizza store and adjacent Living Room lounge in Berkley as environmentally friendly as possible.

"It's all a learning curve for us," Stark says. "We're doing everything we can."

Take recycling for instance. The business, 3249 W 12 Mile Road, produces a large amount of waste that was regularly carted off in a garbage truck to a landfill. Stark and McNamara, both environmentally conscious people, decided they could at least change that and start recycling some of their refuse.

"We use a lot of disposable products here," Stark says. "The amount of garbage we produce is ridiculous."

The problem was they soon discovered that they could recycle a lot of it. Almost half, actually. However, the city only gave them the normal residential recycling containers to use, which were way too small. After complaints from neighbors and some finagling they got a couple of 95-gallon bins to handle their recycling.

They also took pains and a little expense to make what they did throw away more environmentally friendly. For instance, items like plates and cups are 100-percent biodegradable, which makes them more eco-friendly than washing permanent plates when you count the energy and chemicals used to clean them. The knives and forks are even made of Tater Ware, a natural material.

"They will decompose in a landfill in two weeks," Stark says. "They're actually stronger and more pliable than plastic."

They just started using biodegradable take-out containers made of corn and are looking into biodegradable garbage bags.

But their green credentials go beyond managing waste. The store uses simple fixes such as energy efficient light bulbs and more expensive ones like high-efficiency heating and cooling systems.

It's paying off in more ways than one. Not only is the business reaping lower energy bills but it is also experiencing more than its share of good press and public goodwill because of its eco-conscious choices.

"Customers appreciate what we're doing," Starks says. "People come out here and do business because they heard about what we're doing.

Source: Jennifer Stark, co-owner of Amici's Pizza

Writer: Jon Zemke

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