At one Clintonville business, going green is a virtue.

At one Clintonville business, going green is a virtue.

Virtue Vegan Salon, 3333 N. High St., was one of three enterprises to be honored by Mayor Michael Coleman with this year's GreenSpotLight Award earlier this month.

"Members of Mayor Coleman's Green Team selected one small, medium and large-sized business whose commitment demonstrates excellence in business practices that produce environmental benefits," according to the announcement.

Virtue Vegan Salon was this year's recipient, based on information provided in 2011 GreenSpot annual reports. The medium-sized business was e-Cycle LLC near Hilliard, while the larger enterprise was G&J Pepsi Cola Bottlers on the Near East Side.

Coleman launched GreenSpot in July 2008 as part of his Get Green Columbus initiative.

"Developed to inspire, educate and recognize those in our community who are taking steps to protect our environment, the Web-based program now has over 3,650 members taking steps toward protecting the health and future of our community," the mayor's spokesman, Daniel M. Williamson, wrote in announcing this year's awards ceremony on March 12.

"GreenSpot provides a framework for businesses to use to take practical steps toward lessening their environmental impact," Coleman was quoted as saying. "I am proud of the three businesses receiving recognition today, and we hope others will follow the example they set in their commitment to get green."

Virtue Vegan Salon has been a GreenSpot ever since owner Melanie Guzzo opened it in 2011.

"We have renewed every year," she said last week.

Being green has been more than just a color from day one at the salon. It's been a way of life and of doing business.

The salon never uses paper towels. The personnel "recycle everything we possibly can" and employs sulfate- and paraffin-free products, according to Guzzo. They don't even use laundry detergent, she said, but instead a more eco-friendly substitute.

Guzzo and her employees also don't have printed business cards. Instead, they stamp the information on cardboard cut from old cereal boxes customers bring in.

"We have customers who would actually throw things away bring us their cereal boxes for business cards," Guzzo said.

The owner said she doesn't buy new furniture if she can possibly help it, all of the light fixtures are second-hand and al of the coffee and teacups are reusable.

"I think they thought all those things were impressive," Guzzo said.

Although right in the heart of Clintonville's business district, Vegan Virtue Salon has a small garden in back.

"We're trying to turn our urban space into green space," Guzzo said.

Some of the salon's customers are already very conscious of being eco-friendly, the salon owner said, while others have been nudged that way by being exposed to the practices at Virtue.

"It makes them think a little more about it," Guzzo said.

To apply for a GreenSpot, business owners should visit www.columbusgreenspot.org.