BUSINESSES FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
From the first day of planning up to now, Marianas Creations—that charming, artsy cafe-bar-shop along Micro Beach Road—has always been eco-friendly.
As soon as you get there, you’ll see, starting at the patio, oil drums, wood pallets, wire spools craftily and beautifully repurposed as tables and chairs, wall decors and shelves, and even as counters at the shop. Even their restroom boasts a cool repurposed sink.
The eco-friendliness of Marianas Creations does not stop there. They highlight products that are made locally, and have preference for ones that are friendly to the environment. The same goes for the food and drinks they serve—locally sourced, with focus on farm-to-table.
And to help the island embrace a more sustainable lifestyle, they give discounts to customers who bring their own tumblers to buy drinks.
Sounds exciting, and so Saipan Tribune sat down with Elina Gharti Chhetri, owner of Marianas Creations, to talk more about all these environmentally-sound practices they have been implementing as a business, how the community benefits, and also why other businesses should embrace operations that are more eco-friendly.
“As a small business on Saipan, we try our best to highlight products that are local and eco-friendly,” Chhetri said. “[We have] always been environmentally proactive because we believe in the preservation of our islands and the environment in general. Regardless of how one feels about climate change, everyone should agree that a cleaner environment is better for everyone.”
While she personally reduces, recycles, and repurposes, Chhetri said that as a business owner, it is important to lead by example by making eco-friendly practices an important part of one’s business.
“We believe we can educate and influence other people to do the same by showing them our examples, like how we remodeled our shop without buying or shipping anything new, but rather by using repurposed materials. The more people adopt eco-friendly practices, the better it will be for our environment and community,” she said.
Buying local is eco-friendly
“Just the fact that we carry only local products made [on] Saipan, Tinian, and Rota helps us be environmentally-friendly. By just choosing local products to sell at our shop, we are saying no to over-reliance on imports and shipments, and we do not have to be a part of it,” Chhetri said.
Marianas Creations features artists Bonitu Basula, Ginen I Tåsi, Saipan Weaving, Candle J, Recycled Art from Saipan International School, Sensiña Custom Decals, Recycled pallets products, and many others who do their best to produce art using materials found on island, or that would encourage their customers to recycle or repurpose their products.
According to Chhetri, they are trying to create a market for CNMI residents to buy products produced locally rather than products shipped from outside because not only does this encourage eco-friendly behavior (especially given that most of the artists use materials from the island), buying local also helps keep the money flowing within the community.
When choosing products that they feature in their shop, Marianas Creations look for two things: local production and materials, and using the most eco-friendly processes.
“Usually the most difficult part is packaging. I give them suggestions on eco-friendly packaging. Most of them are in their development phase, so they can always adjust their ways of delivering products and packaging products to their customers,” she said.
“A lot of the artists have changed their style according to our needs and suggestions. There are some exceptions, such as some products like food items that are hard to keep fresh so food products companies have fewer options in packaging,” Chhetri said, adding that she will always choose a producer who is being conscious about the environment over one who is not.
Chhetri is quick to clarify, however, that while they have had to reject a few products, they try to carry all that are made ion Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, and support all of the local producers on the premise that those who are producing locally are using local resources. There’s no need for products to be shipped from elsewhere—less shipping means less environmental impact.
For the food they serve, Marianas Creations is more “farm-to-table” in their approach, especially with their “Plate of the Day.” For drinks, they use locally sourced cucumber for their cucumber soda, and locally-sourced ginger for their house ginger ale. They also sell locally made artisan kombucha. Want coffee? They only serve Marianas Coffee.
“In the near future we are planning to grow most of our vegetables and fruits that will be used in our cafe at our farm. For now, we produce several items ourselves that are used in the cafe. Basil and mint are grown on-site at the cafe and used for cocktails,” Chhetri said.
They also sell free-range duck and chicken eggs from their farm, Hafa Adai Farms. Marianas Creations collects and sanitizes used egg boxes—drop yours at their store—which they recycle for their fresh eggs.
Conscious about the wastes they generate, Marianas Creations also separate food leftovers at their cafe—and also from Everest Kitchen and Spicy Thai—to repurpose as feed for their ducks and chickens. They send their recyclables to the Recycling Center in Lower Base, and support initiatives to eliminate majority of plastic bags, as well as the sale and use of styrofoam products in the CNMI.
“As an island community, waste management is always going to be an issue,” Chhetri said. “All the trash we produce everyday on an island only ends up in a landfill or worse, in the ocean. As humans, we have a responsibility to repair the polluted parts of our ecosystem. As businesses, we have an opportunity to drive change through our adoption of green business practices.”
“Every business on island should always think about the impact they’re making [on] the environment since we all live here together. If a small business like ours can adopt eco-friendly measures, then imagine how much of a difference it would make if bigger companies would take eco-friendly steps,” she said. “Together, we can help our island become more environmentally-friendly.”
Marianas Creations is open Wednesdays to Saturdays, from 11am to 9pm. They are located along Micro Beach Road, beside Everest Restaurant. For more in-formation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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