Ritu Primlani

Ritu Primlani

2006 Winner – Environmental Category
Age: 33
Hometown: Berkeley, California

Ritu Primlani recognized that environmental awareness and compliance programs often fail to reach ethnic restaurants because their owners lack the time, financial resources and language skills to implement programs of their own. In 1998, she launched the Thimmakka Certified Green Restaurants (TCGR) program (www.thimmakka.org), a “green-certified” way for restaurants to do business that targets first-generation ethnic business entrepreneurs. With TCGR, Primlani brings together major environmental stakeholders -- community leaders, restaurant owners and employees, as well as government, private and non-profit agencies-- and provides a way for non-English speaking business owners to understand civic policies, comply with complex regulations, and become environmental leaders in their communities. Primlani and her staff achieve this through a volunteer corps of trained, multi-lingual environmental specialists who provide restaurants with customized, one-on-one training in local languages covering four key environmental areas: Solid Waste Reduction, Water Conservation, Energy Conservation, and Pollution Prevention. When Primlani launched her program in the San Francisco Bay Area, there were two certified green restaurants; her organization has since certified 44 restaurants, both ethnic, and non-ethnic. Currently, more than 100 restaurants participate in the program and she plans to grow the program to 200 restaurants and expand to other large cities throughout the United States and Canada. Because of Primlani, TCGR has become the sole organization cities approach to reach out to ethnic business owners in an attempt to protect the environment. Primlani knows what it means to “Stand On A Better World” and is the winner of the Environmental Category.

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