Thursday, September 27, 2007

Yoga Nine: 2007 People's Choice Award - part 3

Welcome everyone to part 3 of our nominees series. Take a deep breath as we are about to enter the world of yoga. Please meet nominee no. 3:

Yoga Nine/Buddha Body Fair Trade Store

Business description: Yoga Nine is a professional mind-body studio which aims to promote community health by providing a variety of classes taught by the most highly trained and experienced teachers. It is dedicated to providing community outreach through educational programs, volunteer efforts in its fair trade store & cafe, Buddha Body. In the store you can find products made by local artists and artisans, and others created through cooperatives around the world. The cafe is serving organic and fair trade tasty coffee and tea.

Located at: Smithville, NJ

Operating Since: 2005



The questionnaire (repiled by Laurie Greene from Yoga Nine):

1. What makes your business a green business?

Yoga Nine is dedicated to a broad view of "green". Our space, constructed in an ordinary strip mall is as eco-sensitive as our buildout code allows. I did not have the money to build my own space, so I negotiated with my landlord to purchase all the materials for retrofitting the space and paid them to install it. The space is insulated with a combination of recycled cotton jean batting and nonformadehyde rolls of more conventional materials to meet strip mall firecode. Used "ecolumber" for our studio flooring and tile and recycled no voc carpet in the rest of our facility.

All our glues are no voc and our walls fixtures are colored with milkpaints. Don't believe the critics - milkpaints are BEAUTIFUL. Everyone comments on how colorful and beautiful the store it. Our fixtures were collected from discarded shelving and painted and tiled. Thanks to all the people who helped me find these products...

I started from square one. No one at the time in southern NJ carried these supplies. Once researched, many were gladly ordered by my small local paint and flooring store. THANK YOU GREG AT TOWNE PAINT... They thought I was crazy at first, but now carry these options for other local folks. We clean with natural products, and installed all low output lighting thanks to the generosity of SOLAR MIKE who appreciates the value of barter!

We put a bikerack next to our facility and reward those who ride in with a 10% discount, but mostly they just appreciate that we care. We recycle and ask our suppliers to use no packaging, or ecopackaging. Our store tries to be paper-free. Our yoga studio runs on an electronic format. Our bags (when people want them - we ask!) are either recycled paper or "eco-bags made from cornstarch. We also give out cotton reusable shopping bags (thank you FLAVOUR OF CHANGE for your FREE bags) and sell coffee/tea mugs and presses in our cafe. If you come in with your own mug, your coffee is always the 12 oz price, and there are free refills. If people need paper, we have all compostable recycled products.

We are currently working with the awesome advocate PATRICK HOSSAY (author of UnSUSTAINABLE-buy it!), at Richard Stockton College to close our loop (along with the new fair trade coffee stations at the college) by creating a quick compost station. (We do not have this available in our township).

Environmental Justice however cannot come without social justice. Our goals at the studio are prefaced on this idea. This is why we sell only fair traded and organic products and devote so much time to educating local folks not only about the injustice around the world, but in our local community. Many thanks to all our wholesalers and home grown supported cooperatives (thanks to the students at SAVE for helping the 3 cooperatives in Belize) and Kim Hancock at Flavour of change, along with countless others who allow me to purchase is smaller quantities than might be common practice.

We sell fair trade organic coffee and tea (Zhena's), and our bags of beans are custom labeled and mixed to support 9 local charities in our community, Thanks to Dean's Beans & Charlsie for doing this for us at no extra charge! The profits from each bag ($2,00) goes to each charity. Our Community Coffee Campaign (which you can read about at our website) provides a venue for education about local causes, matches volunteers with opportunities,and raises money to support them.

We are a totally handicap accessible facility and provide programs for EVERYONE in our community. We have created a protocol and three years running provided the space for a cancer trial (yoga and breast cancer) at the studio and with the volunteer work of my teachers. SHARON GARLAND is currently working to incorporate yoga in the local therapeutic horeseriding program, and we hope to take this to the national organization.
Finally, we sponsor low cost or free events for the community which educate and entertain us. Film screenings (Thanks to Debra Frank for massive fresh popcorn donations), and DAVID REDMOND for screening Mardi Gras Made in China and debuting Kamp Katrina (yet unfinished) in our TINY SPACE, far away from anywhere. David, if you read this, we are still debating "plastic forks"!

Our studio doubles as a gallery space and we showcase the works of local artists, poets and causes monthly at our SECOND SATURDAY free events. What a great way to meet people and build community. Our second show showcased the talents of the Boys & Girls Club Photography Club, and we eventually sent their poetry group to a state "poetry slam" competition. In November we will be supporting Girls Gotta Run by featuring and selling art with shoe themes! Look them up, they are an awesome cause!

2. What is your green characteristic you're most proud of?

WE focus on building community. We are able to accomplish all we have because of this! This nomination is testimony to this!

3. What is your biggest achievement so far?

Getting people to know about local causes, and cultivating MINDFULNESS and the idea of the INTERCONNECTIONS we have with everyone everywhere.

4. In what way do you think that you help people to take a green action and make a difference?

I think we show them that you don't have to be perfect to be righteous. Every little bit helps. What ever small action you can do everyday. We also help others to find resources and have ongoing education campaigns. We are currently helping the new Unitarian Church build out a green space, and the local state college has just successfully switched their coffee over to fair trade and has started a eco-campaign (Thank to the fair trade student alliance, SAVE, and especially JASON).

5. Who is your green hero?

Wangari Maathai. Plant a tree, save the world. Simple actions are powerful.

6. What's your green dream for your business?

To have everyone in the area KNOW what fair trade is and to continue to make our small area of South Jersey an unlikely leader in environmental responsibility! Thanks to Rick Dovey and the folks at ACUA for their hybrid car fleet, and WINDMILL project in Atlantic City. You all rock. We want to put South Jersey ON THE MAP as the green capitol of the US. Now there's a dream.

The next nominee: Pizza Fusion

And if you missed the other parts of the Unofficial Guide we published so far on Eco-Libris blog, please check them out:

Part 1 - Natural Pet Home Store