Published December 16, 2008
Volume 16, Number 12

Quench Your Thirst for Sustainability at Green Drinks

Green Drinks, an international sustainability organization founded in London in 1989, has added a Tri-Valley presence to its growing portfolio of chapters, which now extend to 426 cities worldwide. On the flip side of the transaction, the former Tri-Valley Sustainable Business Alliance has re-emerged as the local Green Drinks after a year-long hiatus.

Steve Melgoza, proprietor of GozoGear, a green-oriented apparel company in Livermore, is the guiding force behind both local groups. He started a branch of the Berkeley-based Sustainable Business Alliance, a membership organization of companies “committed to greater environmental and socially responsible business practices,” in 2004. It used to meet once a month over lunch in Pleasanton, but its busy membership of entrepreneurs and business people found it increasingly difficult to make the mid-day time slot, and attendance dwindled.

A survey indicated that an evening event would be more likely to attract a crowd, so Melgoza suspended operations while he researched the options. That’s when he came upon the Green Drinks affiliation. The organic structure and casual, after-work format presented a good match to the preferences of his local audience, composed mostly of like-minded people interested in reducing their businesses’ impact on the planet.

As befits its grass-roots orientation, Green Drinks derives a lot of its appeal from its informality. “There is nothing really structured at our meetings,” Melgoza says. “We have no agenda other than networking and discussion of the green business movement.”  The managers at the group’s chosen meeting place, First Street Ale House in Livermore, is grappling with several of the top-of-mind issues participants explore. Pursuing its own sustainability objectives, the Ale House is adopting compostable take-out containers, putting food in a separate waste stream, and recycling its kegs and bottles.

Another hot topic is the Bay Area Green Business Program, a partnership of government agencies and utilities that “helps local businesses comply with all environmental regulations and take actions to conserve resources, prevent pollution, and minimize waste.” The program now issues certifications to businesses that meet “higher standards of environmental performance.” Green Drinks members are keeping a close eye on the growing number of businesses enrolling in the program as well as what measures are being deployed to enhance energy efficiency, water conservation, and air quality, and diminish the waste stream. “It’s great to hear this as an ongoing conversation among folks that do attend,” Melgoza remarks.

The umbrella Green Drinks organization has experienced rapid growth over the past few years: from 170 member cities at the beginning of 2007 to 304 cities less than a year later, in November 2007. This year alone has seen the birth of more than 100 new chapters, which in the U.S. now extend from Greenfield, Mass., to Brunswick, Georgia to Long Beach, Calif.

The Tri-Valley Green Drinks meets at Livermore’s First Street Ale House from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. The next get-together is January 13.  For more information, e-mail steve@gozagear.com.


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