Constant construction noise. Flooding damage. Blocked sewage pipes. And a business that is suffering due to hardships that were forced upon it with few ways to resolve them. This is the reality for Ai, the owner of Pearls Tea & Coffee. And many immigrant- and refugee-owned businesses in the greater Seattle area face similar struggles.

ECOSS has engaged many businesses like Pearls Tea and Coffee during the West Seattle bridge closure. Photo Credit: Seattle Department of Transportation.

What does it mean for a business to be environmentally sustainable? For Multicultural Outreach Manager Daniel Doan, it’s not limited to the environment. Daniel is leading ECOSS’ Sustainable Businesses program, which aims to meet the needs of small businesses around the Puget Sound region.

Inspired by ECOSS’ previous work promoting healthy nail salons as well as his personal experiences with his mom’s hair salon, Daniel hopes the Sustainable Businesses program will address not just environmental concerns, but other business needs as well. His ideas include questionnaires to gauge needs and certification programs that promote the business to customers. Daniel envisions conversations and check-ins over time that will build close relationships while addressing needs such as overcoming language and technological barriers, access to financial resources and more. And when future concerns come up, business owners will trust in ECOSS to help.

As ECOSS saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is difficult to prioritize the environment when survival has to come first. However, ECOSS’ approach to community and business engagement is critical for bridging the disparity in access that immigrants, refugees and other people of color commonly experience. ECOSS recognizes that for business owners, environmental sustainability, financial security and community safety are all be part of the same conversation. The Sustainable Business program aims to advance that reality. Stay tuned for the

Pearls Tea & Coffee remains open despite the nearby construction. Read more about Ai and their café here: