Sustainable Business Alliance

The Sustainable Business Alliance is a membership organization for companies committed to greater environmental and socially responsible business practices. Our members are a diverse community of over 100 sustainable businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area. We strengthen our businesses through networking, education, and partnership opportunities. We learn from and support each other through strong community and collaboration.

Our mission is to promote sustainable business practices, nurture the environmentally-committed business sector, advocate the environmentally progressive policies, and improve the environmental profile of economic activity in the East Bay.

If you are already implementing sustainable practices in your business, or would like to learn more about greening your business, consider membership in our growing network of eco conscious entrepreneurs.

phone (510)757-4954
PO Box 11944 Berkeley, CA 94712

Available by appointment only


BALLE Training Workshop in San Francisco

posted by sustainablebiz on Jan 23rd, 2010 at 9:19 am

Our sister organization, BALLE, will be hosting a workshop on developing a sustainability plan for your community:

Our day-long training workshop is packed with presentations, group discussion and activities designed to equip you with the key principles, best practices, proven tools, and regional relationships needed to build business and community innovation through the building blocks of a local living economy. You'll discuss goals, opportunities and priorities for your community and leave with a host of manuals and templates for local success.

We will cover the following aspects of network development, growth and success: getting started and catalyzing community change, operations and staffing, communications and community-based marketing, fundraising and partnerships, membership benefits and recruitment, volunteer management, and step-by-step program planning for community campaigns.

The workshop is intended for existing and new networks, and is appropriate for local business, government, and community representatives currently growing or considering a local, independent business network.

We know from past experience that when groups from the same community attend together, they go home more inspired through shared learning, and as a result, can more rapidly generate local innovation. As a result, we encourage group participation by offering a significant discount for groups of 2 or more.

Please visit our web links below for further information, email us with questions at, or see our workshops homepage for information about other upcoming training dates and locations.

We look forward to seeing many of you in San Francisco in a few short weeks! Please note the workshop is already at half capacity, so register soon to ensure your spot!

Monday, February 1, 2010  8:30 AM - 6:00 PM Pacific Time Zone

Workshop Location TBD, San Francisco, CA 98225

RSVP by Friday, January 29, 2010


Love a local business? Buy a share

posted by sustainablebiz on Sep 30th, 2009 at 7:46 am

CNN has an article about small local businesses that have raised money directly from their loyal customer base.

"Plenty of entrepreneurs are turning to their communities for support in these tricky times. As the recession wreaks havoc on America's economy, finding the money to launch, expand or even just sustain a small business is often a struggle. In the second quarter of 2009, venture capital funds raised the smallest amount since the third quarter of 2003, according to the National Venture Capital Association in Arlington, Va. Banks continue to pull credit lines and credit cards from many small businesses. Even proprietors who are willing to extract capital from their homes -- often their biggest personal asset - can't always do so, because the declining housing market has left so many homeowners underwater."

Read full article

We previously blogged about a similar story: Alabama pharmacist launches homegrown economic stimulus with $2 bill


Get Your FREE Community Resilience Toolkit

posted by sustainablebiz on Sep 30th, 2009 at 7:35 am

Check out Bay Localize's newest resource for local organizers, community builders, and the public sector: the Community Resilience Toolkit! The Toolkit's designed for groups to prepare their communities to weather tough times. Get your FREE copy today!

The Toolkit is designed for groups to prepare their communities to weather tough times. It places a special emphasis on economic and climate instability. The Toolkit provides resources to evaluate a community's relative strengths and vulnerabilities, and take action to build resilience. It covers the topics of:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Transportation and Housing
  • Jobs and Economy
  • Civic Preparedness and Social Services

Here's a video from the recent toolkit launch party:


Transform West Oakland By Sponsoring A Tree

posted by sustainablebiz on Aug 14th, 2009 at 9:44 am

From our friends at Ella Baker Center:

Plant a TreeYou can help Ella Baker Center transform West Oakland into a beautifully vibrant community -- no matter where you live. On Saturday, August 22, in collaboration with Urban Releaf, Soul of the City will plant trees along West MacArthur Boulevard in our biggest "Serve Our City" service day yet, but we need your support to ensure success.

With a goal of planting 50 new trees, we hope to not only improve this major thoroughfare, but to also address both the environmental and health impacts on the community. As a main route for cars, buses and trucks, heavy doses of toxic, polluted air linger along MacArthur -- as a result, children growing up in West Oakland are seven times more likely to visit the hospital for severe cases of asthma than any other children in California. Planting trees among the concrete streets will offset polluted air and improve the neighborhood for years to come.

This service day will be a shining example of neighbors coming together to address the issues affecting their community. We hope that you will make a gift today to help this Soul of the City project make the biggest possible impact. Consider one of these amounts:

  • $65 will cover the full cost of planting one tree
  • $40 will cover the cost of purchasing one tree
  • $15 will cover the cost of soil for one tree
  • $10 will cover the cost of ties and stakes for one tree

West Oakland is a beautifully diverse part of the East Bay, with so much hope and potential. However, there are multiple barriers preventing the neighborhood and its community members from realizing that potential. On a daily basis, residents of West Oakland are faced with oppressive health and economic barriers, constantly threatening their quality of life.


New Community Website: Grow Your Oakland

posted by sustainablebiz on Aug 3rd, 2009 at 8:27 am

Grow Your Oakland logoGrow Your Oakland, a project of queridomundo, is a practical posting of what we love about this place and a fledgling collection of tools for what we think is interesting and engaged living. It's a point of connection between individuals and the city we live in, where you can hear about things as diverse as vegetable gardening, visual arts and Lake Merritt birds.

"Oakland is our home, where we live and work and connect with our communities and spend most of our time—where we grow. We started this site because we want you to grow with us."


VIDEO: Financial Permaculture Documentary

posted by sustainablebiz on Jul 16th, 2009 at 8:15 am

This is a documentary made from the first Financial Permaculture summit in Hohenwald, Tennessee. The week long workshop is a dynamic educational experience of greening the American community. You'll learn how to map the financial ecosystem of a community, apply permaculture principles to business design, design a regenerative business, and create ecological and socially responsible investment oppertunities.

The next Financial Permaculture summit will be from September 22nd through the 26th.


Join The Climate Change Action Project

posted by sustainablebiz on Jul 14th, 2009 at 8:00 am

Climate Change Action Groups Underscore the Power of Local Community

Ecology Center - Climate Change Action ProjectThroughout its forty year history, the Ecology Center has been a pioneer on the national landscape of environmental action, responding to pressing ecological concerns through local efforts: spearheading the ban of methyl bromide at farmers' markets, initiating one of the country's first curbside recycling programs, and creating innovative demonstration projects such as the EcoHouse. Now as climate change presents the greatest ecological challenges humanity has known, the Ecology Center again underscores the power of local communities by organizing local Climate Change Action Groups, which you can participate in.

Check out the S.F. Chronicle's great profile of the Climate Change Action Project: Saving the planet one action group at a time. Read more articles about the program in the East Bay Express, San Francisco Chronicle, and Daily Cal.

How the Groups Work

During four weekly sessions in a Climate Change Action Groups you will work in a team with a small group of Bay Area residents to:

Calculate your personal carbon footprint;
Create a measurable personal action plan to reduce your footprint;
Discuss ways to become a climate change leader in your household and community;
Be offered the tools and training to coordinate and facilitate your own action group.
All levels are encouraged to participate. Non-members who attend all four meetings will receive a one-year membership to the Ecology Center. Participation is free but a $10 fee will be charged for the Low Carbon Diet workbook. You can also form your own group. No special skills or knowledge is necessary. Just gather 5-10 friends, coworkers, neighbors, family, or congregation members. The Ecology Center will provide training and materials.

Join a Group

The Climate Change Action Program brings residents together to calculate their carbon footprints, determine footprint reduction goals, create action plans, and make substantive changes in the many facets of their communities: their households, workplaces, neighborhoods, schools, congregations, social, political and civic groups.

We invite you to join a group held at the Ecology Center or to form your own. Just gather 5-10 friends, neighbors, coworkers or others and determine a meeting time. We will give you the tools, resources, and ongoing support to make the rest happen. For more information and to get involved, write to or call 510-548-2220 x240.


Mondays, 6-8pm: July 6, 13, 20 and 27
Tuesdays, 6-8pm: July 7, 14, 21 and 28

Mondays, 6-8pm: August 3, 10, 17 and 24
Tuesdays, 6-8pm: August 4, 11, 18 and 25
Write to or call 510-548-2220 x240 to sign up.

Or if interested in holding your own group...


Thursday, July 30, 6-8:30pm
Please contact us to get started: or call 510-548-2220 x240.


VIDEO: Colorado Local First: Local Matters

posted by sustainablebiz on Jul 13th, 2009 at 8:34 am

Colorado First made this excellent video examining how the multiplier effect of buying from local businesses strengthens a community and makes the local economy more sustainable.


How The World Became A Corporation

posted by sustainablebiz on Jun 2nd, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Life Inc Book - Douglas RushkoffA new book released today examines the history of corporations and how they went from a convenient legal vehicle to the dominant fact of contemporary life. Life Inc., written by author and documentary filmmaker Douglas Rushkoff, illuminates both how we've become disconnected from our world, and how we can reconnect to our towns, to the value we can create, and mostly, to one another. As the speculative economy collapses under its own weight, Life Inc. shows us how to build a real and human-scaled society to take its place.

"This fascinating journey reveals the roots of our debacle, from the late Middle Ages to today. From the founding of the chartered monopoly to the branding of the self; from the invention of central currency to the privatization of banking; from the birth of the modern, self-interested individual to his exploitation through the false ideal of the single-family home; from the Victorian Great Exhibition to the solipsism of MySpace; the corporation has infiltrated all aspects of our daily lives. Life Inc. exposes why we see our homes as investments rather than places to live, our 401k plans as the ultimate measure of success, and the Internet as just another place to do business."

Rushkoff will be speaking about Life Inc. at the Booksmith in San Francisco on Tuesday June 9th.

Life Inc. Dispatch 01: Crisis as Opportunity from Douglas Rushkoff on Vimeo.


Celebrate Earth Day with Soul of the City

posted by sustainablebiz on Apr 15th, 2009 at 7:56 am

EarthEarth Day is April 22nd! To celebrate, Soul of the City is teaming up with Just Cause Oakland on Saturday, April 18 for the next Serve Our City service day. Our event is one of the many activities marking the City of Oakland's "Clean It, Green It, Mean It" Clean Up Day.

Join us at Wo'se Community Church of the Sacred African Way for a light breakfast at 9AM, then work alongside other volunteers to spruce up an East Oakland neighborhood. Building a better Oakland is a family-friendly activity, so bring your children, friends, co-workers, and parents -- it will take each and every one of us to make a lasting change in our community.

Last month's service day was a smashing success -- big thanks to everyone who came out to pitch in. DigIt! Urban Edibles guided us in creating a garden that's not just beautiful, but bountiful, too. We also cleaned up the street and planted flowers to make the neighborhood a more inviting place to live. Check out our pictures!

This month's Serve Our City service day promises to be even more engaging, as we join a citywide effort to make Oakland cleaner and greener. Click here to RSVP.

Saturday, April 18
9:00 AM - NOON
Wo'se Community Church of the Sacred African Way
8924 Holly Street, Oakland CA 94621
Breakfast and lunch will be provided for participants.
Note: Please bring gloves if you have them, we'll provide other tools.


VIDEO: Van Jones at Green for All Conference

posted by sustainablebiz on Mar 31st, 2009 at 9:01 am

Inspirational speech by Van Jones given at the Green For All Conference in Washington D.C. Van tells us to be brave, and to recognize the green jobs movement is really about people coming together for the well being of the community. Oakland already misses you Van!


March Indie Journal: Local Sustainable Finance

posted by sustainablebiz on Mar 23rd, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Indie Revolution - Monthly Journal PromoCan we truly shape our society?

Yes we can!

Join the Indie Revolution and receive a monthly journal (new theme each month) as well as special offers and invitations. The theme for this month is Local, Sustainable, & Socially-Responsible Finance:

For the month of March, we explore local, sustainable, and socially-responsible finance. Most of our 2009 Indie Revolution involves conscious, community-building ways to spend your money, but this month, sandwiched between a stimulus package and tax day, surrounded by economic news, we talk about other ways your money impacts the local community. And we take a bit of a break from spending.

The Indie Revolution is sponsored by East Bay Express, Buy Local Berkeley, Oakland Grown, and Sustainable Business Alliance.


Soul of the City Service Day this Saturday

posted by sustainablebiz on Mar 10th, 2009 at 9:20 am

Join Ella Baker Center and Dig It! Urban Edibles to install a food garden at the home of an East Oakland resident. Together, we'll take one step toward greening our homes and our communities. Everyone is welcome, from experienced gardeners to those who have never touched a shovel. We'll provide lunch. You should wear old clothes that can get dirty and comfortable, closed-toe shoes.

Dig It! Urban Edibles is dedicated to enabling city residents to grow their own food in a way that is affordable, sustainable, visually appealing and socially uplifting, thereby allowing edible gardens to replace traditional ornamental gardens and grass lawns. Soul of the City is thrilled to have this opportunity to work together to help "regular folks" grow healthy food at home. Come out on Saturday, March 14 as Dig It! staff lead volunteers in the installation of a brand-new garden and teach the family living there how to maintain it.

Click here to RSVP

If you can't join us on March 14 but are interested in gardening and other community projects, let us know. We'll continue to host volunteer opportunities through our Soul of the City Service Days throughout the year. To learn more about Dig It! Urban Edibles, visit


Keep The Green In Your Pockets

posted by sustainablebiz on Mar 1st, 2009 at 8:30 am

Long time SBA member Give Something Back offers ways to save money while doing good for the environment and our local communities.

Give Something Back logo

Learning about sustainability and all things green can be overwhelming at times. Our goal at Give Something Back is to relieve you of stress - and make your choices easy and safe.

A leader in sustainability since our founding in 1991, we are qualified to help you. By donating more than half our profits-almost $4 million-to community organizations including environmental groups, by pioneering the sale of recycled paper, by leading the office supply industry towards sustainability, and by launching innovative programs that help our customers reuse and recycle, we continue our mission to support people, the planet, and our community while providing the best prices and the most outstanding service.

Six easy ways Give Something Back can help your office go green:

  1. More than 5,000 green products to choose from. The market for green office products is growing! We are proud to offer products that have been verified by independent certifies like Green Seal, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Scientific Certifications Systems (SCS) and more.
  2. Track your green purchasing with the Green Audit. Our benchmarking tool helps you set affordable goals to increase green purchasing in all product categories.
  3. Reused packaging is eco-efficient.  With the Box Take-Back Program, GSB will pick up cardboard boxes from most cities in the nine county SF Bay Area (Sacramento, you're next) and reuse them for customer orders throughout Northern California.
  4. Let us help you recycle. Give Something Back makes recycling easy. We currently collect cardboard and toners. Starting soon, we will help you take the guesswork and stress out of disposing of your unwanted and obsolete electronics, or E-Waste by collecting CPUs, monitors, cell phones, printers, fax machines, TV's, LCD's and modems.
  5. Paperless E-Billing saves time, money and trees. Contact customer relations to enroll 1.888.456.GIVE.
  6. Green alternatives at your fingertips. A new online ordering system allows you to see green alternatives when adding items to your shopping cart. This enables your business to determine what you can afford, and transition, at whatever rate you choose, to a more environmentally friendly cache of office and janitorial products.

"How can I do all this?", you ask. It is very easy.

1.  Call me, Matt Cooper, at (510)383-6318
2.  Fill out an application for terms, or use a credit card, through me or online.
3.  Place your next office supply order with give something back.
4.  Save money, save the environment, save the world, one paper clip at a time!


Adorable Cat Looking For A Home

posted by sustainablebiz on Feb 27th, 2009 at 8:13 am

If you know someone who is looking for a sweet adult cat – please let me know. She is friendly and likes attention. About six years old and very healthy (though the vet says she could lose a couple of pounds!).

Contact Jenny Kassan at 510-529-1860

Friendly adult cat looking for a home


Make The Indie Resolution This Year

posted by sustainablebiz on Jan 25th, 2009 at 9:32 am

Indie Resolution - Shop Local

Can a New Years resolution help the local economy?

It can when people commit to increasing their support of independent businesses and local artists. The East Bay Express is asking us to do just that. By making the Indie Resolution, we are creating a healthier, more thoughtful, and stronger community.

Find out how to participate and get your Indie Resolution Journal, for a chance to win $5,800 in local gift certificates.


Community Capital & The Replacement Economy

posted by sustainablebiz on Sep 24th, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Two timely articles from the BALLE newsletter.

Notes From the Leading Edge of Social Finance
By Don Shaffer

Don Schaffer

The era of Wall Street domination is over.

It may take ten years, or fifty years, but the signs are clear. A relative few committed investors are driving the shift to an entirely new approach to working with money.

If today's capital markets can be described as complex, opaque, and anonymous - based on short-term outcomes, we are beginning to see more and more financial transactions that are direct, transparent, and personal-based on long-term relationships.

  • Exotic hedge funds - out.
  • Investments that contribute directly to community health and self-reliance - in.

In the years to come, there will be significant growth of…

  • Small-scale community banks
  • Holding companies for privately held, triple-bottom-line businesses
  • New funds that re-define venture capital and the notion of "exit strategy"

And much more…

Read on...

Table For Six Billion, Please

Judy Wicks On Her Plan To Change The World, One Restaurant At A Time

Judy Wicks from BALLE

Kupfer: What exactly is a “local living economy”?

Wicks: It's an economy in which basic needs are produced close to home in ways that are sustainable and don't harm the environment. This requires a cooperative mentality, because there's no such thing as a stand-alone sustainable business — it must be part of a sustainable system. Individuals, or individual businesses, can't provide for all our basic needs by themselves. We need a local food system, a local energy system, local clothing manufacturing, and green building methods. In the face of climate change and peak oil, our survival depends on community self-reliance.

In local living economies, goods we can't produce at home, such as coffee or sugar or bananas, are traded for fairly, so that the exchange benefits both our community and the community where those products originate. We can still have a global economy, but it will be a network of thousands of sustainable local economies that trade in products that improve our quality of life. If we create products that are unique to our region — whether it's a style of clothing, a type of cheese or wine, or a unique invention — they'll be sought after in the global marketplace. So this movement is not anti-trade or antiglobalization; it's about creating security at home and not depending on foreign trade for our basic needs.

Read on...

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