Tracy Bloom Schwartz's Commitment to Green Makes Creative Parties Blossom
Tracy Blooom Schwartz brings the best of green paper and printing to Bethesda.
Editor's note: This is the second article in a series of interviews with Bethesdans who are educating and helping others live a greener lifestyle through their chosen profession or business.
Tracy Bloom Schwartz is the owner of Creative Parties at 8011 Woodmont Avenue. Operating for 43 years and started by her mother, Schwartz is a second generation owner who has been running Creative Parties for 15 years. Schwartz has used her long term commitment to greener living to find and bring green paper products and printing methods to Creative Parties. In this interview, Schwartz talks about her journey through the world of green paper and printing and about providing customers with greener options.
Patch: What are your customers buying when it comes to green? What items are most popular?
TBS: We are a paper store, and our most popular product is the paper – 18 colors, 9 sizes. That’s what they’re coming for. Our paper is 100% post consumer recycled. I have green journals, napkins, plates, and so forth. In every category I sell I have something green. But the focus of what we are is paper. It sells and sells nicely. It’s my responsibility to bring eco-friendly products to the store and make the store eco-friendly. For instance, two years ago we brought in a soy-based printer. Eighty percent of what I print I print on the soy-based printer. I’m proud of it. I’m going to make a difference every day.
Patch: You just got back from a buying trip to New York City. For green, did you find anything new that we’ll be seeing in your store in the next few months?
TBS: About five years ago everyone had something eco-friendly, but it was a lot of greenwashing. Now there’s little to none, but things have changed. We did find a lot of things in New York. People are getting smarter about what they’re selling and there’s not so much single use. Any company out of California is inherently eco-friendly. The packaging is smaller, more clever and it takes half the material it used to take. The laws in California are so much stronger and older; some from twenty years ago. I like buying products from California.
Patch: What first inspired your interest in green and the environment?
TBS: I was raised very frugally. I’ve always been conscious about what I buy because I don’t like wasting my money. So that’s one thing that I’m about. I like being really neat and I need to be really efficient. I’ve got too many things on my plate and too much to do. Recycling is for me. Living in Boston twenty-three years ago you could turn in your cans and bottles and get money back, and bums in the neighborhood would go through trash cans to find bottles for money. Our neighborhood got together and we agreed to put our bottles in a bin outside our dumpster to make it easier for them to collect bottles. I became conscious to separate my bottles and cans. It started then. I have a recycling bin next to every trash can. It makes me feel better. As time has gone on, the more you try and the more you do, it snowballs. I honestly believe everybody feels better about it.
Patch: How does having your store located in Bethesda support your own goals for green living?
TBS: Thanks to Bethesda Green, which I love, recycling bins are on the street. If the environment allows you to be eco-friendly, you can be eco-friendly. If the bins are there you can use them. Also, I’m a biker and bike laws have gotten better. We are in such a community that there are many eco lovers here and it makes it easy to talk about it. Through Bethesda Green I’ve met a community of service providers. Some I knew, some are new and it makes you feel better. They make it easy.
Patch: What advice do you have for other store owners in Bethesda who want to increase the number of green products in their store?
TBS: I think they just have to do it. I think it’s a responsibility for owners to bring it in and make it happen. I wouldn’t push the eco-friendly [products]. I think you get as many turn offs as turn ons. I think everybody will be eco-friendly eventually. I take the responsibility. If I have green choices when I buy, I’m going to buy the eco version. I’m not going to announce it. My advice would be don’t necessarily invest the money in a big promotion. Just do it one product at a time and it will happen. About 20 to 30 percent of my products are green and I feel very proud of it. That’s been a personal commitment and I feel very proud.