Local pizza restaurant wins Provo Green Business award

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Provo’s Sustainability and Natural Resources Committee is recognizing and awarding businesses who are making an effort to improve the environment. The most recent winner of Provo’s Green Business award is local restaurant Mozz Artisan Pizza.

Mozz is the fifth company in Provo to have won an award, with Nu Skin being the first to ever win in 2020. There are three levels of awards which can be presented to a company: the Honor Award, the Mayor’s Award and the Ultimate Dream Award.

Each award has certain requirements to qualify such as reducing water, electricity or emissions. To win an Honor Award, businesses must decrease their consumption in one of these categories by 5% from the previous year.

For the Mayor’s Award, businesses must reduce consumption use by 10% in two of those categories, and to win the highest award, the Ultimate Dream Award, businesses must reduce use in three categories.

The Provo Green Business award began as an initiative by the committee to support local businesses as they develop sustainable practices, according to Rick Cox, local business owner, committee member and creator of the award.

The Mayor’s Award sits at the front counter at Mozz Artisan Pizza. Provo businesses can qualify for these awards by reducing energy consumption. (Ashley Pun Eveson)

Four years ago, Cox realized local businesses needed to be awarded for sustainable practices. Cox runs a carwash and laundromat in town and has seen the growth in environmentally friendly business practices in Provo.

He came to Provo at age 14 and has seen change in the city since then as more people become aware of the need for sustainability.

“Twenty years ago, you’d say sustainability and people would say ‘Oh, what’s that?’ It was very difficult,” Cox said. “But now, we get the support of the city council and the mayor, we get the support of BYU. It seems like everybody understands how important sustainability is.”

Leading by example, Cox replaced neon lights in his laundromat in order to lower consumption by 10%, even though it came at a cost to his business.

Cox works with another member of the committee, Mary Eargle, to search for businesses who are interested in the award.

Eargle seeks out businesses in the Provo area to begin the process of qualifying for the award and Cox vets the businesses. A lot of the time, businesses are close to winning the awards, and just have to make small changes to qualify, Cox said.

For Eargle, the movies “WALL-E” and “Princess Mononoke” inspired her to get more involved with the environment when she was young. Now, she searches for ways to support local businesses in sustainability efforts.

“I worked at a restaurant and I know how wasteful they can be, how much plastic and things are thrown away. So I do hope that people in Provo start to care more,” Eargle said.

Mozz Artisan Pizza is a pizza restaurant opened in 2019 by Jared and Erin Neiswender in downtown Provo. The business won the Mayor’s Award of green business in Nov. 2021.

The handcrafted pizza oven at Mozz Artisan Pizza is decorated with 22,222 tiles. The restaurant offsets carbon emissions by planting trees. (Ashley Pun Eveson)

Mozz strives to use fresh ingredients sourced from local Utah vendors and makes mozzarella every day in-house, Jared Neiswender said.

Working with more than 30 different Utah businesses lowers emissions typically generated from importing ingredients, Cox said. Choosing to buy locally is one of the great things Mozz is doing to reduce emissions, Cox said.

There are no single-use plastics in the restaurant, and all the packaging is biodegradable and compostable. Mozz participates in the city’s recycling program, and LED lights are used to save electricity throughout the restaurant.

A sign in Mozz shows the importance of supporting local businesses to help the economy and the environment. Mozz Artisan Pizza buys from 30 different local companies in Utah. (Ashley Pun Eveson)

The carbon from the handcrafted pizza oven is minimized by donating to a nonprofit organization called One Tree Planted, which plants a tree for each dollar donated.

“Being a part of the capitalist system doesn’t have to be evil. You can make good choices that benefit the community and everyone around it. So that’s our philosophy — to be good instead of taking as much as we can get,” Jared Neiswender said.

Social sustainability is also a key factor in their business. They pay a $15 minimum wage and offer dental health insurance, tuition reimbursement and an enjoyable work culture for their employees in addition to being environmentally sustainable, Jared Neiswender said.

Through their different efforts, Eargle said Mozz is doing a good job at being environmentally friendly.

As sustainability starts to gain more traction in Provo, the committee is continuing to look for more businesses to award. Aspiring entrepreneurs can help contribute by planning on creating sustainable businesses.

“It would be great for future business owners to think about sustainable practices and to implement them when they start their own businesses,” Eargle said.

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