Adult Rehabilitation Center ‘closes loop’ with sustainable practices

At The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers, it’s not just lives that are made new by combating addiction—the centers give new life to donated goods through their thrift stores and recycling programs

The Santa Monica (California) ARC has taken it one step further to “close the loop.” That is, to refine its practices to use more sustainable options in order to limit waste. These environmental efforts have resulted in the ARC achieving a Santa Monica Green Business Certification under the guidelines of the California Green Business Network (CAGBN) and winning two 2020 Sustainable Quality Excellence Awards for Environmental Stewardship and Economic Development.

For the ARC, the journey to sustainability began several years ago, when Santa Monica ARC administrators Captains Tanya and Timothy Pemberton had a booth at the city’s annual Sustainable Quality Awards (SQA) ceremony. After watching local businesses win the awards for their environmental efforts, Tanya Pemberton remembered thinking: why not us? 

“The Salvation Army recycles, repurposes and reuses more than anybody I could think of in Santa Monica,” she said. “We divert over a million pounds of clothing out of the landfill, and so that was on our booth…basically we thought after we did the booth that we would get involved with the Sustainable Quality Awards.”

The ARC got in touch with Sustainable Works, a nonprofit organization that administers Santa Monica’s Community Sustainability and Green Business Programs, to conduct an onsite assessment of the ARC’s environmental impact. 

The assessment revealed several areas the ARC could improve upon, including energy and water efficiency, pollution prevention (switching to greener cleaning products) and further closing the loop by purchasing paper products made with post-consumer recycled materials. Santa Monica’s Green Business Program was able to connect them with resources to make many of the improvements at no cost. 

Courtesy Tanya Pemberton

The Santa Monica Certified Green Business designations provide recognition and resources while supporting Santa Monica’s Sustainable City Plan that covers nine areas including environmental stewardship. Some of the city’s environmental goals include becoming water independent by 2023 and zero-waste by 2030. 

“Essentially, it’s a win-win, because businesses that achieve green certification collectively help Santa Monica reach their Sustainability Goals,” said Sustainable Works Co-Executive Director, Susy Borlido. 

Through grants, utility rebates and the city’s Water Neutrality Direct Install Program, the ARC was able to upgrade all washers and dryers to Energy Star-rated machines and replace 220 fluorescent four-foot tubes with LEDs at no charge through a LED partnership. Motion sensors for lighting and photocells were installed throughout the campus, and all water fixtures—10 toilets, five urinals and several sink faucet aerators—were upgraded to high-efficiency flows.

Additionally, the ARC was able to examine its meal-serving practices to reduce waste by serving food and beverages in reusable dishware and cups, and transition its daily floor cleaner and hand-washing soap to Ecolab Green Seal Certified products.

Currently, Green Business Program Account Executive Ivannia Perez-Schlamm is working with the ARC to green certify its administration building. 

“We are going through that, and it will be great when they can be certified,” Perez-Schlamm said. “In addition, because their resale shops already close the recycling loop… If they can green certify their other buildings, then they really can claim that they live up to being a green operation.”

All of the efforts culminated in the ARC’s certification as a Santa Monica green business and the pair of Sustainable Quality Excellence Awards the ARC will be recognized in a virtual SQA ceremony April 29, as the original ceremony was delayed due to COVID-19 last year.

“They’ve really come out of the woodwork in the last year,” said Borlido. “They have been a part of Santa Monica’s community for a long time, but we weren’t hearing about their sustainability initiatives. It’s been really refreshing to have them share their sustainability efforts with the community, which inspires other businesses to do the same.” 

The ARC joins about 60 other businesses that hold the three-year Green Business certification, which requires renewal for another three years following an additional evaluation process. The new certification also opens the ARC up to additional rebate and incentive programs, and so far, the center has secured one grant through the city because of its efforts. 

“We’re one of the leaders in diverting things from the landfill and repurposing and reusing and then recycling,” Pemberton said. “It just gives us the exposure here in Santa Monica, to be known for not only that we do all this wonderful work in the community, but we’re also environmentally friendly and eco conscious.”  

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Hillary Jackson

Hillary Jackson is Managing Editor of Caring, where she keeps her finger on the pulse of The Salvation Army and her eyes on the day’s headlines—all in the name of creating smart, impactful content that prompts action. With an insatiable love of information and heart for the underdog, she believes stories to be one of the best ways to understand and empathize with others. Hillary has worked around the world covering the Olympic Games, and her words have appeared in outlets including Washington Post, The Week, The Muse and Architectural Digest. Hillary holds a master’s degree in journalism from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She was a finalist for a pair of National Arts and Entertainment Journalism (NAEJ) Awards as well as for the Religion Newswriters Association’s Chandler Student Award for “The PK Project,” a multimedia experience chronicling the stereotypes facing preacher’s kids versus reality. When she’s not word slinging, you’ll find her walking her West Highland Terrier, Nessie.