If there’s anything I’ve learned in four years as a Frederick resident, it’s that there’s always something new to learn about this inimitable town. That was definitely the case at a recent Cowork Frederick event I attended.
In the year since I joined Cowork Frederick, I’ve picked up plenty from everyone, members and owners alike. So I knew something good was in the offing when they announced that McClintock Distilling and North Market Pop Shop—two of Frederick’s best-loved businesses—would appear at an afternoon mash-up of an ice cream social and show & tell.
I won’t lie: the free samples were the initial enticement. What says a late summer afternoon better than ice cream and gin?
But the real purpose of the event ran a little deeper: raising awareness of a shared commitment to environmental sustainability. The featured businesses and Cowork Frederick have all made distinctly green footprints on Frederick’s business landscape.
McClintock: Setting a National Standard
McClintock Distilling creates award-winning gin, rye, and other spirits. McClintock Co-founder Braeden Bumpers was on hand to detail his company’s commitment to protecting and preserving natural resources. An environmental scientist by training, Bumpers has always worked to ensure McClintock practices sustainability and provides a positive example not just for Frederick but for the distilling industry as a whole.
McClintock also uses native grains in its award-winning spirits, which in turn helps support local farms. But their commitment to sustainability goes even further—rippling across the distilling industry and changing it for the greener.
While enjoying a bowl of ice cream, I learned some of McClintock’s biggest sustainability measures include:
- Saving hundreds of thousands of gallons of water via a special “closed-loop” cooling system
- Using 100 percent wind and solar energy—one of the first distilleries in the world to do so
- Wastewater and spent grain used as animal feed, instead of being sent to the landfill
- Using all non-GMO, certified organic grains
According to Bumpers, McClintock regularly takes the lead on green issues at the regional and national levels, through leadership in various professional groups.
It was heartening to learn the extent to which McClintock is engaged in this work—and the extent to which they care. If this was the stance of one of Frederick’s most high-profile companies, surely it spoke well of the Key City’s wider environmental culture.
Pop Shop: Nothing Goes to Waste
In addition to the creamery-fresh ice cream sampled at the event, the North Market Pop Shop features a rotating cast of 400 soda varieties—the largest collection of its kind on the East Coast. This includes high-end options like small-batch root beer to nostalgic favorites like Cheerwine to whimsical novelties (bacon-flavored soda, anyone?). The food menu is solid, too (try the sloppy joe).
Like Bumpers, Pop Shop Owner Michelle Schaffer is a scientist by trade, having worked as a biochemist in the pharmaceutical industry before buying the Pop Shop and embarking on a new career. That gives her, she said, a respect for the planet and for the science that demonstrates a need for better environmental stewardship around the world.
To do its part, the Pop Shop undertakes a massive recycling effort in its downtown store. In fact, if a more complete recycling program is even possible, I have no idea what that would look like.
Yes, recycling soda bottles is a big piece of it. But Schaffer takes it a big step farther, partnering with Key City Compost—yet another great local business that hauls away food waste and converts it to soil—to keep many of their everyday disposables out of the landfill.
The Pop Shop composts the following items:
- Cups and lids
- Straws and straw wrappers
- Wooden tasting spoons
- Stir sticks
- Hot dog papers
- Spoons, forks, knives
- Napkins and paper towels
- Food waste (banana peels, excess ice cream or milkshake, etc)
On top of that, the Pop Shop recycles:
- Glass bottles
- Aluminum cans
- Bottle caps
- Paper or cardboard (with no food contact)
- Plastic bags
- Plastic drink bottles and juice boxes
- Plastic ice cream containers
If all that wasn’t enough, the Pop Shop has also greened its menu, with plant-based versions of ice cream, hot dogs, and even the signature sloppy joe.
They even ship soda to mail-order customers using recycled packaging gathered and donated by other local businesses. One of their biggest donors? Cowork Frederick.
Cowork Frederick: A Green Culture
Sustainability stretches over every aspect of how Cowork Frederick operates its shared office work space. Here we do plenty of our own composting (also through Key City Compost) and recycling as well. We also buy products made from recycled materials: printer paper, paper towels, and even the furniture on our back patio and our phone booth. We’re signed up for 100% wind-generated electricity. In fact, Cowork Frederick was recognized for such things with an award for waste reduction and recycling from Frederick County.
The communal fridge is always well stocked with locally sourced produce and almond milk—as a vegan, I appreciate the latter every time I pour a fresh cup of coffee, which is also sustainably sourced from Dublin Roasters Coffee. Furthermore, LED motion-sensor lighting helps cut down on energy use, while dual-flush toilets reduce our water use, and reusable hand towels help us meet our goal of just two bags of trash per week.
As the saying goes, sometimes it’s the little things in life, and Cowork Frederick excels at the little things.
Shared culture, shared values
The green culture these three businesses represent puts on display the natural synergy that exists in Frederick’s commercial community. They do it not out of a sense of obligation but with a certain esprit de corps that permeates the town and makes the feeling contagious. Throw in free samples at an event like the one I attended and you’ve got a pretty good thing going, and one that ensures I’ll never run out of things to learn about this one-of-a-kind city.