Woodbine artist Melinda Byrd has been "green" most of her life. She has a pledge hanging in her studio listing how she can be even more environmentally friendly. Her business is one of six certified by Green Business Network in Carroll County. (Photo by Phil Grout / August 26, 2013)

Inside Melinda Byrd's Woodbine art studio hangs a pledge that she made to the community to be more environmentally friendly.

Part of the pledge is a commitment not to use any petroleum solvents for any of her projects.

"It was instilled within me as a child that we have a sensitive planet and it's hard to live without hurting the planet," Byrd said. "The best we can do is try to make a minimal impact."

Byrd's pledge is just one of the many green and environmentally friendly practices she employs at her studio and at home.

In addition to foregoing petroleum solvents, she also recycles, composts and participates in a local food co-operative.

She was recently recognized for her environmentally friendly practices as one of the first six businesses to be certified by Carroll County's newly formed Green Business Network.

Among the goals of the Green Business Network is to recognize and encourage businesses to adopt environmentally sustainable practices, according to network founder Don West.

West said adopting sustainable practices like those outlined by the Green Business Network is a "win-win" for business owners.

"It would actually help their bottom line, in addition to helping the environment," said West, whose Double Diamond Construction company in Westminster is among the six certified by the network.

In addition to Byrd's Byrdcall Studio, the network, which launched in late May, has also certified:

• Interior Harmony Acupuncture and Feng Shui, a home furnishing store in Finksburg

• Lowe's in Westminster,

• Fern Rodkey Electric, in Taneytown

Northrop Grumman, in Sykesville.

When considering a business for the program, evaluators look at four major categories: solid waste management, environmentally responsible purchasing, energy efficiency and renewable energies, and water conservation and quality.

Participants agree to take certain steps to encourage employee participation and raise the visibility of the program.

Efforts recognized by the network include recycling, composting, buying recycled or local products, performing an energy audit, and installing energy efficient lighting among other initiatives.

West said he was "pretty satisfied" with the start, and hopes that 20 businesses will be signed up by the end of the network's first year.

"I know our numbers will grow," he said.

Karen Greenstein, owner of Interior Harmony, said she applied for the network to promote it and encourage the conversation for implementing more environmentally sustainable practices.

"It was right up my alley," she said.

Greenstein, who runs her business out of her home, said she recycles, composts, uses her own bags for grocery shopping, and uses water from a rain barrel for her plants.

As part of her business to help organize rooms in a home or business, she clears clutter and collects old electronics and plastics from clients. She takes those materials to the recycling center or a local thrift shop.

She added that acupuncture clients also bring items to be recycled or donated to the thrift shop to their appointments.

"I feel like I'm kind of like Robin Hood," she said. "I don't rob, but I just take from those people who have to those people who need."

Byrd's environmentally friendly efforts include installing rain barrels to collect water for her garden, shopping at local food markets, and installing a porous pavement driveway.

She said she would advise local business owners to apply because it will make them more aware of their own practices and could also yield cost savings in the future.

"I can't think of a reason not to (apply)," she said.

For information on the Green Business Network, go to http://www.planetcarroll.org.