As we celebrate Earth Day, we are reminded sustainability is central to our mission at Elder Care Alliance.  A mission devoted to making smart changes that will help us adapt to and be good stewards of the environment so we can serve our communities in a greater capacity now and for generations to come. Living through a pandemic this past year has caused us to shift our priorities to focus on safety and wellness for our residents and team members.  But, we haven’t taken our eyes entirely away from our Green plan.

Certified Green to save water, energy, and prevent waste

AlmaVia of Camarillo is going green and has become a certified Ventura County Green Business

We are pleased to announce AlmaVia of Camarillo became a certified Ventura County Green Business awarded by the Ventura County Regional Energy Alliance this past year. Ventura County Green Businesses are a part of the California Green Business Network.

It took nearly a year and a half to get AVC to the level of certification. To be certified, participants must comply with all environmental regulations and meet program standards for saving water, conserving energy, preventing pollution, and minimizing waste.

“The whole process made us open our eyes to ways we weren’t Green,” AVC Executive Director Matthew Hathway said. “When we first started, we had many single-use plastics like coffee stirrers and single-use cups in our Bistro. We have switched those over to wood or cups that are bio-plastics.”

Hathway said the most challenging part was not making changes to products better for the environment but to ones that would also be financially responsible. When the pandemic hit, residents were confined to their apartments which meant having three meals a day served in their rooms. Styrofoam used to be the go-to for takeaway containers for in-room meals. Pre-pandemic AVC already changed to recycled paper containers, but now they’ve taken it one step further and switched to eco-friendly reusable containers.

“Eighty residents, three meals a day, seven days a week, you can imagine we were going through so much waste before going to the eco-friendly containers. The switch was not only good business but also good for the environment.”

Recycling isn’t the only factor that led to AVC’s certification. They also implemented eco-friendly cleaning chemicals, switching burned-out bulbs to energy-efficient LED bulbs, installing motion sensor timers to lights, among many others steps.

“We have more goals and progress to go. We are hoping to become innovators, the highest tier of certification.”

To continue on food sustainability

Culinary Director Sal Navarro picks tomatoes

As AVC continues its Green efforts, the next phase has been focusing on food. A few miles outside our doors, many beautiful farms sit just outside Camarillo. The goal is to see how we can bring in more locally sourced environmentally sustainable produce and meats. We’ve been working with several organic farms in the area to cut down on our carbon footprint.

“Let’s enrich our neighbors and local farmers instead of having our food delivered from a multinational conglomerate coming 2,000 miles away on a diesel truck. It’s good for our neighbors. It’s good for our residents. It’s a win-win.”

AVC Culinary Director, Sal Navarro, has created a signature dinner series, “The Fresh Plate,” which showcases the locally sourced produce and meat. He goes to the farms, picks everything out himself, and crafts delicious dishes around the local products. It’s another opportunity to serve our residents’ healthy local options. The monthly dinner has become a highlight every month.

“We have a vision as a company and as a community that sustainability and conservation are important to us.”

Even those who call AVC home have become champions of the effort, Hathway says. They’re excited to belong to a culture where this value is upheld. Residents partake in a program where they collect paper, cans and bottles to be recycled.

By 2030, ECA will have the systems and leadership in place to source 20% more food safely and locally to improve human health, protect the environment, divert 20% more waste away from landfills, and convert 20% more of our energy-using functions to cleaner and greener materials and fuels.

“We see the world getting littered with plastics that will only be touched once. We have an obligation to our children, grandchildren, and future generations to do what we can to reverse course and keep this one planet that we have as pristine as we can.”

If you are interested in learning about ways to support this effort, please reach out to our Director of Philanthropy, Cynthia Gregory. Cynthia can be reached via email at cgregory@eldercarealliance.org.