Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pepe's Bistro: Small Scale Sustainability

Here is a review of how one small business is engaging sustainability on a shoestring budget.

Not all of the companies engaging sustainability are big corporates. Some small mom and pop operations see real value in reducing energy costs and appealing to a public drawn towards more responsible business practices.

Pepe's Bistro is a vegetarian food truck owned by Pepito "Pepe" Fierro. His experience is a model for small businesses that are striving to find a way to engage sustainability with very limited budgets.

Pepe is a longtime adherent of sustainability as reflected by both his lifestyle and his business ventures. In addition to his food truck he is the founder of the Lincoln Bike Kitchen which provides bikes to community members in an effort to encourage both health and emissions-free transportation.

Pepe's most recent initiative involves replacing his gas generator with truck mounted solar panels. He realized that gas generators are inconsistent with his aspirations. What makes the case of Pepe's Bistro so interesting is how he is securing funding. Unlike larger companies with larger revenue streams, Pepe had no budget for solar panels so he launched a campaign on Kickstarter.

It appears to be working. So far 63 people have pledged more than 2.5k to help bring this project to life.

"I’m trying to be more sustainable and do helpful things for the earth so I thought 'why not solar panels,'" Pepe said. In the short term his goal is to have a solar powered generator operating by Earth Day on April 22.

"By doing this solar-powered food truck, it’s going to be a tiny step toward a few other projects," Fierro said. Pepe's long term goal is to refurbish an existing building and open a restaurant that uses only renewable energy.

"It’s important we use buildings that already stand rather than keep building structures and killing off land we could be using to grow food," Pepe said. "There are more abandoned buildings in America than homeless people."

Pepe's experience shows small business owners that there are alternative approaches to sustainability that donot require deep pockets.

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