Exactly 1 year ago, Westport Wash & Wax won a WeGreenWestport award. The car wash was honored for using biodegradable chemicals, recycling 70% of its water, installing solar panels, even taking glass and plastic bottles from cars to the transfer station.
But last April times were flush. Did the toilet-swirling economy cause the car wash to reconsider its environmental commitment?
Absolutely not, says co-owner Craig Tiefenthaler. He and his brother Scott — who founded the business nearly 10 years ago — have not wavered at all.
“It does cost money,” Craig notes. “We pay for state-of-the-art equipment and the best chemicals. The photovoltaic panels on the roof are not free. Aquarion doesn’t give their water away.
“But it’s the right thing to do.”
Business is off this year, Craig admits. “No one is escaping what’s happening. But we’re a viable business. I’m not bragging, but we’re holding our own.”
In fact, the economy is less worrisome than the weather. “A rainy weekend — that’s a real killer,” Craig says.
He adds proudly: “We haven’t laid off a single worker. It’s important to keep good men.” The average turnover in nearby car washes is 5 months. He’s had the same employees for years.
One area where energy must be expended: Every car gets freshly washed towels. “You can’t wash nice cars with dirt,” Craig says. As if on cue, a shiny BMW rolls by.
What’s ahead for Westport’s green car wash?
“We’ll keep upgrading, keep adding state-of-the-art, environmentally sound stuff,” Craig promises.
He suddenly remembers something else. “We just redid our bathroom. It’s probably the nicest public restroom in town.”
Scott Tiefenthaler will speak at tomorrow’s “Green (Brown) Bag Luncheon,” featuring First Selectman Gordon Joseloff. The event will be held at noon in Town Hall (Rooms 307/309).
On this annual Earth Day I would like the children, who were around on the first celebration of Earth Day in the early 70s, to take a bow and start bragging about what has been done since that day and let today’s children know we do care and we have done good. Too much is made of the gloom and doomsday predictions of Gore et al and nothing is told of the progress that has been made over the past 35+ years.
I am willing to challenge anyone to argue that our streets are not cleaner, our rivers and shores are much healthier than the days that we knew pre Earth day. Yes there were rivers in the US that actually caught fire, the river right here in CT that flows by Rt. 8 in Naugatuck was lined with black rocks from tire and rubber plant waste. In Westport it was not unusual to see all types of flotsam from ping pong balls dumped in the Saugatuck or garbage that fell off the pile that is now the Library in the waters that now regattas are enjoyed.
We do not see or hear much about the hole in the Ozone shrinking, the recovery of hawks and eagles and other birds we did not see in such numbers as kids, or the recovery of our forests from acid rain damage being reversed. Deposit laws and hazardous waste laws have cleaned up our beaches so you now do not have to clear a spot of cans and syringes to enjoy sitting on the beach, yes I remember playing with plastic syringes used as squirt guns found on Compo.
Cars no longer spew out leaded exhaust, you see far fewer chimneys venting smoke of different colors along 95, and toxic dumps are cleaned or being cleaned up rather than being created all around Ct and the country. Most boats do not vent sewage into the sound, trucks no longer burn heating oil venting that black smoke that used to choke us when the family car followed them.
Is there more to be done? Yes. Is what has been done to date been due to events like Earth Day and concerns raised about the Earth in the past ? Yes But on this Earth Day let us give ourselves some credit for what has been accomplished and what we see today. If you do not give generations past a nod of appreciation because you thing all is going to hell and there is no hope, then you are blind to the great leaps made in the days since Earth Day 1. There is hope, life is better, the earth is healthier and that should make please ma nature, and give us all encouragement to keep up the good work.
Great points, Chip. Thanks for pointing out all the progress that’s been made — quietly, incrementally, but consistently — in so many areas. Some came as a result of government mandates, some from citizen activism. All contributed to the greater good. “06800” will continue to shine a light on green efforts, by government and grassroots alike.
I remember sitting in the first Earth Day celebration at Staples. I felt energized, but also cynical. There was so much to be done — how could we accomplish anything? As Chip notes, we have accomplished more than most of us imagined.
One other area deserves mention: the greening of the Post Road. A long effort to plant trees and bushes made our town’s main artery look pretty good (see the difference as soon as you cross the border into Norwalk). Unfortunately, many trees and plantings have been lost to disease, construction and CL&P work. Fortunately, a re-greening effort is underway.
Happy Earth Day!
Kudos to Craig and Westport Wash & Wax. Glad that a Post Road re-greening effort is underway. Seeing so many trees sacrificed to the CL&P work was heartbreaking.