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Grand Rapids (WZZM) - Today is the 44th annual "Earth Day." There are dozens of things to do to help efforts to protect the environment, including planting a tree or to honor the occasion. One local business is doing its part to be greener.

West Michigan's own, BarFly Ventures, has a new way of doing business that's all about being earth-friendly. BarFly owns four locations here in Grand Rapids, including Grand Rapids Brewing, McFadden's, Stella's and HopCat. Owner, Mark Sellers, also owns a HopCat in East Lansing with another soon opening in Detroit.

Restaurants and breweries are known to generate a lot of waste. About a year ago, Sellers started a very aggressive initiative to compost all of the food waste as well as spent grains from the brewing process. BarFly locations were already recycling most of its other waste. In a short time BarFly has been about to reduce its waste stream by 90%. That equals about 1,300 dumpsters full of trash that did not wind up in a landfill.

"We are a big industry. You know it is a multi-billion dollar industry. We entertain, around the state, millions of guests with all the restaurants in Michigan. If we have 10-percent, 20-percent, of restaurants begin to pick up these types of programs, even taking baby steps, it will make a significant impact on the environment and reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfills and incinerators around Michigan and elsewhere," said Chris Knape, marketing and communications director for BarFly Ventures.

As part of the recycling and composting initiative, the company is also selective about what type of products are used in the restaurants as well. For example, napkins are either linen or made of compostable paper. Carry-out containers are made of plant fiber. And, straws and to-go cups are made from corn-based material.

The owner calls its effort to protect the planet the "responsible thing to do."

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