Derek Long

Executive Director, Sustainable Connections

Bellingham, WA

Act Local First, Regenerate Soil & Nature  |  Advocacy, Business Network / Alliance, Community Economic Development, Environmental Sustainability

Derek convenes local small businesses to transform and model an economy built on sustainable practices.

Derek has a track record of entrepreneurship and program development in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Most recently, he co-founded Sustainable Connections in 2002 and is the current executive director. Derek served as the first co-national coordinator of BALLE from 2001 to 2003.

Sustainable Connections’ mission is to be the local forum where businesses come together to transform and model an economy built on sustainable practices. We work with local, independently owned businesses that have the autonomy to make any transformational change in their business that they can imagine. They are reexamining where to buy goods and services, how to consume energy responsibly, how to grow and distribute our food, build homes, and even, how we define success in business. Sustainable Connections is supporting a community of innovators in green building, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, supporting independent businesses in town centers, and mentoring a new breed of entrepreneurs that have designed their business with a sustainable vision.


  • 3 out of 5 locals have changed their shopping behavior to choose local, independent businesses because of Sustainable Connections’ Think Local First campaign. The campaign has a 70% local brand recognition, and Bellingham was rated #2 in the nation for local retail vibrancy.
  • Over $2 million saved by the 325 participating businesses in the first three years of the Sustainable Connections’ Toward Zero Waste program, which strives to decrease solid waste by 50-80%.
  • Saved energy in 1,100 homes and 400 businesses, generating $15 million in construction spending, and supporting 84 jobs through the Community Energy Challenge.
  • Generates over $1 million in new sales opportunities for local farmers and producers each year, connecting local food with eaters of all kinds.
  • Led the Green Power Community Challenge, leading Bellingham to be named the #1 Green Power Community by the U.S. EPA for 2007 and 2008. The campaign generated such a volume of business that the price of green power in Bellingham dropped 40%.