Think about how much plastic we use just in the process of feeding ourselves and our family. You use plastic wrap to cover a bowl of dough, half an avocado, or to wrap a sandwich.
Z Wraps founder and environmentally-conscious mom, Michelle Zimora, has always been the tinkering type, taking what was around her and turning it into something useful. Z Wraps – reusable wraps for food made of organic cotton and beeswax – is a small business from Easthampton, Massachusetts with products sold online and in 180 stores nationally. Michelle says their goal is “to save 17 million rolls of plastic wrap from going into our environment.”
Z Wraps began as a DIY story, when Zimora noticed a post on a friend’s blog about how to make reusable wraps. Since her mother taught her to sew, she went to work, using her collection of fabric and a block of beeswax. She got so many comments about how cool her wraps were, and requests from friends and family, she decided to start a business. “I realized people would be proud to own these wraps and give them as gifts,” she says. “I thought, ‘Let’s go for it!’”
We met Michelle last year when she was looking for help with a strategy to continue the wonderful growth she had seen since the beginning stages of her business. She was referred to PCV through our partnership with ICIC, and we paired her with advisor Jennifer, a Director of Merchandising with 20 years experience.
Next week is Earth Day, and our team at PCV is taking this opportunity to reflect on the ways that environmental justice is inextricably linked to our work pushing forward economic and racial justice. When we support small business owners to create good local jobs that build wealth that stays in our communities, we’re also giving those communities power to build healthier futures.
The Century Foundation reminds us that “Environmental racism is inseparable from racial segregation.” Black children are five times more likely than white children to have lead poisoning. Indigenous peoples are impacted disproportionately by destructive mining practices and the dumping of hazardous materials on their lands.
Z Wraps is just one of many sustainable businesses that PCV works with. From sustainable clothing (Taylor Jay Collection) to vegan restaurants (Vegan Mob) to sustainable manufacturing (Rubi & Tatsu) and sustainability consulting (Clear Blue Commercial, Inc.), our clients, like small businesses across America, are working for a greener, healthier future.
At the same time that we’re working directly with small businesses to support their growth, we’re also working with investors on strategies to use their capital to create social and environmental good. One example of many: PCV was brought in by the Sierra Club Foundation to help refine its impact objectives and build out a theory of change, linking their activities to the social and environmental good they really wanted to create.
This work helped them translate their ideas into measurable, real-world impact, and gave them a roadmap visualizing the ways that positive outcomes and impact are created through the work of fund managers and investees in alignment with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
PCV team members are also intimately involved in The CDFI Climate Crisis Working Group. This working group explores how CDFIs can proactively address the climate crisis and collectively scale their impact to build sustainable and resilient communities nationwide. Our team members and many CDFI staff across the country cross-pollinate ideas and organize around the topics of clean energy, efficiency, and climate resilience. Through this work we’re helping to focus CDFI capital on renewable energy projects, sustainability in affordable housing and commercial property, and state and Federal policy.
Climate justice is the defining issue of our generation, and at the same time that we’re working directly with small businesses to support their growth, we’re also working with investors to create expanded access to green and good jobs, and to help them invest in a sustainable future. PCV is committed to centering racial, economic, and climate justice for a just transition to build forward better.
President & CEO, Pacific Community Ventures