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Honest Tea Anchors the Green Zone

The Washington Post

The floors are bamboo. The island in the kitchen is IceStone, made of recycled glass and concrete. The brick encasing the structural columns was salvaged from a Baltimore construction site.Welcome to Honest Tea’s new headquarters, in downtown Bethesda, where company co-founder Seth Goldman is expanding his company’s fair-trade, organic, healthy beverage business by moving into a 4,800-square-foot office with as little impact on the environment as possible.

He just bought bikes for his more than 50 employees and rides his to work. Oh, and the desks are used. “Some people call that cheap,” he said recently at the opening festivities for the office. “I call that entrepreneurial.”

Goldman started the company in his kitchen in 1998, fed up with tea drinks that were too sugary and un-tealike. Honest Tea racked up $250,000 in sales that first year. Sales this year will top $25 million, the company said.

Now Goldman is trying to get others to buy into his environmental principles by launching the Bethesda Green Zone, a partnership between local government agencies and area firms to bring sustainable practices to Bethesda’s business district.

Goldman’s first goals: more bike racks. And public recycling bins for shoppers. He even foresees a day when solar-powered trash compactors are used.

His landlord, Federal Realty, is already getting into the act. The developer is working on a program to ship grease from Bethesda’s restaurants to companies who can turn it into biodiesel fuel.

Goldman spoke about these efforts during a recent event launching the Green Zone. He stood behind a lectern made of tea bottles and crates, and there was a large black drape hanging on the wall behind him. Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown pulled down the drape, revealing a Chinese proverb painted on the wall.
It said, “Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the people doing it.”


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