More than 200 businesses in southwest Alabama are helping each other protect air, water and land quality in their communities.
The businesses are members of Partners for Environmental Progress (PEP), a coalition of business and education leaders in the Mobile area. The goal of the group is to share science-based environmental best practices with each other and the community, giving businesses the information they need to balance business development and job creation, industrial growth and a healthy environment.
Tom Bramlett, president of OEC and a PEP board member, says PEP was founded in 2000 as a way for area businesses to educate the community about their operations.
“At that time there was a lot of misinformation,” Bramlett said. “We felt like it was important to give the community a resource that would use real science and facts about what is going on in our local air and water quality.”
Since then Bramlett said PEP has grown to include more than 220 businesses and educational institutions, representing more than 20,000 people.
“It’s one of the reasons PEP has been recognized as a respected voice on these types of issues,” Bramlett said. “We all want the same thing. We want a great place to live, work, play and raise our families. We just need to come together and make it happen.”
Jennifer Denson, executive director of PEP, says the members work year-round to help each other.
“As part of our membership program, we have monthly meetings to educate our members about best environmental practices and community issues in Mobile, Baldwin and Washington counties,” Denson said. “We also partner with other environmental organizations, particularly the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, to help bring awareness and engagement of business into our environmental stewardship projects.”
Denson said one great partnership example is a project involving Mobile Bay NEP, Alabama Power, Greif Packaging and Soterra LLC to install rain barrels in flood-prone neighborhoods of Prichard.
“We like to bring these partners together, highlight what our member companies are doing and make sure our elected officials and our community leaders know that industry is not a dirty polluter,” Denson said. “Having business engaged in being strong environmental stewards is a critical facet of a good, healthy community.”
Mike Wilson, engineering manager at BASF, said he and his company benefits greatly from being a member of PEP.
“We share best practices,” Wilson said. “I’ve talked to them about what they’re doing good, I’ve shared some of the best practices that we have and there’s a little bit of camaraderie about how to move forward with some things like this.”
Wilson, who was born and raised in Mobile, said the work PEP and its members are doing to protect the environment and promote environmental best practices is important to everyone.
“We’re blessed with a tremendous environment around the Mobile area,” Wilson said. “Whether it be the water, the air or the spacious land we’ve got around here, and there’s only one. If you don’t have good stewards of the environment, it’s not going to be there for our children and grandchildren. It’s important to have a good policy to protect that environment that we live in.”
To learn more about PEP, visit pepmobile.org.