by Betsy Rogers
For the owners of Bay Shore Outfitters, signing the Door County Climate Declaration was simply the right thing to do.
“We’re an outdoor lifestyle business,” said Mark Schuster, one of three partners who own the sports stores in Sturgeon Bay and Sister Bay. “We serve our clients, to help them get outside and enjoy the beauty of Door County. That’s why our open spaces are so important. It’s part of our business model: We’re guides to the outdoors. It’s dear to our hearts.”
More than 125 Door County businesses have signed the climate declaration, acknowledging the seriousness of climate change and pledging to pursue innovation and energy efficiency, enhance public health, and create new jobs through climate-friendly business practices. The declaration is an initiative from Ceres, a national nonprofit that’s advocating for sustainability leadership. Globally, more than 1,600 leading businesses, many of them multinational enterprises, have signed the declaration.
For Bay Shore Outfitters, climate change is a critical issue.
“When scientists all agree, when daily in the news we see the impacts of climate change in Australia’s fires and drenching rains and erratic weather patterns – we should all just want to be good stewards of the environment,” Schuster said. “We do understand that climate change is real; it’s happening; it can vastly affect Door County; it’s affecting the world.”
But even for those who might not fully accept climate science, he added, “Why not hedge your bets on the side of making things better?”
As a company, Bay Shore Outfitters puts sustainability measures to work and is always on the lookout for new climate-friendly practices. Its new store in Sturgeon Bay incorporates proven energy-efficient techniques. Both stores recycle everything possible, including sending some packaging back to Patagonia, a global sportswear company with a well-deserved reputation for environmental responsibility.
The firm uses LED lighting throughout and keeps thermostats low. Staff members carpool as much as possible and plan carefully to reduce traffic between the two stores.
Schuster said employees are on board with the firm’s efforts and carry out energy-saving practices home. Among his partners, one has almost fully powered her home with solar panels and is raising chickens for eggs while looking at ways to expand small-scale farming at her home.
Another more out-of-the-box measure that Bay Shore is taking involves education. It operates summer kids’ camps in Sturgeon Bay because, Schuster said, “We have to teach these children to become stewards at every age. We hope to grow and do more education about the climate, the environment and our natural resources in Door County.”
Bay Shore Outfitters especially wants to serve families that wouldn’t otherwise have these opportunities. The firm is exploring partnerships with other local organizations; it leads field trips for the annual Festival of Nature; and it hopes to work with multiple Door County youth organizations.
“We really want to get these kids outside,” Schuster said.
He encourages all Door County businesspeople to sign the declaration and implement climate-friendly practices in their enterprises.
“It’s our future,” he said. “It’s our livelihood on so many levels. In Door County, we depend on tourism. As the climate changes and our environment changes, many things could happen” – some of them deeply detrimental to business.
And at the most basic level, he said, why not? Why not want to make this Earth a better place? Fundamentally, he observed – beyond the ideology and the politics – “It’s all about the greater good.”
Schuster’s zeal rings through his words. “You shouldn’t be in this business if you don’t love the land,” he said. “I’m just so passionate about living in one of the most beautiful and diverse areas anywhere.”
The Climate Change Coalition of Door County, which introduced the Ceres Climate Declaration to the Door County business community, welcomes additional signatories. To date, 125-plus local signers represent media, retail, hospitality, agriculture, business, manufacturing, building and professional services. Businesspeople who are interested in joining this effort may contact Nicole Matson at 715.330.4660 or [email protected] Learn more at climatechangedoorcounty.com.
Betsy Rogers is a member of the Climate Change Coalition Steering Committee, a lifelong summer resident of Sister Bay and a professional writer and editor.