A spot in the borough newsletter? How Media Borough incentivizes sustainable businesses

Participating shops receive a sticker, table placards — and a promotional boost from the borough.

Pushpinder Singh

Pushpinder Singh, owner of Shere-E-Punjab Indian Cuisine in Media, Pa., points to the Media Sustainable Storefronts on the door of his restaurant. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

From Delco to Chesco and Montco to Bucks, what about life in Philly’s suburbs do you want WHYY News to cover? Let us know!

More than a decade ago, Patrick Coffey and his wife Rainy Culbertson began incorporating sustainable practices at home. The co-owner of The Corner in Media said it was only a matter of time before they fully adopted the same measures in their business.

From adopting biodegradable carryout boxes to embracing composting, Coffey said The Corner has evolved. In some ways, it already was.

“I’ve been cooking for a long time,” Coffey said. “And this industry is terrible for the environment — all the plastic, everything. It’s just bad.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The Corner is one of five businesses receiving a sticker, table placards and a shout-out in Media Borough’s newsletter for adopting environmentally friendly practices.

To earn the recognition, interested businesses must comply with five of the seven required sustainability practices: reduce waste by recycling, composting or reusing; provide sustainable to-go packaging options; cut down on energy consumption; promote sustainable transportation; use durable goods for on-site dining; conserve water; and implement proper purchasing and disposal methods.

This exchange between local government and small business, known as the Sustainable Storefronts initiative, is part of the borough’s latest effort to be more eco-friendly.

“It’s really a recognition program for businesses in the borough and it’s really to incentivize sustainability practices,” borough manager Brittany Forman said.

The Sustainable Storefronts initiative officially launched in March. The five early adopters have agreed to be periodically evaluated by an inspector ensuring that they are sticking to their green practices.

“The fact that it’s early and that we already had five, I think, is wonderful,” Borough Council President Mark Paikoff said. “And we’re hoping that this will inspire other businesses to check it out, look at their practices and really come up with ways that they can help the environment while they’re serving our consumers and our residents.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is funding the program. Media officials applied for the grant in early 2023.

The borough also relied heavily on Nothing Left to Waste to establish the best practices for businesses and worked with the Media Business Authority and a communications consultant to hammer out the details.

“I’m glad that Media, the borough, has been doing this program, because hopefully it gets people thinking, the other restaurants in town, on how they can change their ways a little bit,” Coffey said.

Historically, Media has shied away from promoting individual shops through official channels. But this initiative is making the borough move past that era.

Participating businesses get a link on the Media website, promotion through the borough’s social media accounts and a spot in the borough’s newsletter — which reaches approximately 14,000 people.

“We try to be trendsetters in Media and we love to celebrate our businesses who are doing the same thing,” Paikoff said. “It’s a great partnership between our businesses, our community, our families and our visitors.”

Pushpinder Singh, who runs Shere-E-Punjab Indian Cuisine, said his eatery was already engaging in many of the required sustainability practices. He’s happy to participate in any way he can.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“We can help to improve nature. I think that’s a big part, if we can help [a little] in this community. It’s great. We are so happy,” Singh said.

Tara Duke, owner of Off the Rail, said undertaking the project has been exciting — and tough.

“I definitely think for any restaurant that transition can be a little difficult,” Duke said. “Just managing it, making sure you’re separating it, making sure your staff is aware of communication.”

But Duke said her staff at the family-friendly sports bar was enthusiastic about the sustainability measures. She said the borough has been patient and supportive in helping them transition.

With rooftop seating, a myriad of televisions and a massive projector, Off the Rail has managed to carve out a niche in Media and attract a customer base.

Has joining the Sustainable Storefronts program boosted the customer base?

It’s too early to tell, the restaurant owners said.

“I would assume within the next six months, people are going to start to notice and recognize and be excited and appreciate it — and possibly visit our establishment because of the initiative and that we are one of the first,” Duke said.

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal