Earth Day

Celebrate Earth Day!

Earth Day is Thursday, April 22, marking the 51st anniversary of the very first Earth Day celebration in 1970! According to EarthDay.org, 20 million Americans (representing 10% of the total population of the United States at that time) took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums on that first Earth Day to advocate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Earth Day celebrations have continued to grow in scope and magnitude since that day in 1970 as the awareness of climate change and the dire need for environmental advocacy has become ever more apparent. 

Food co-ops have been looking for ways to reduce environmental impact for decades. In fact, many co-ops were formed by people who wanted access to healthy, delicious food with reduced environmental impact and less waste, and co-ops continue to lead on these issues today. You help co-ops continue this proud tradition every time you choose to shop at one, invest in ownership, or tell a friend about your local food co-op. Here are a few of the ways that co-ops support healthier patterns of production and consumption:

Supporting Local Farmers & Producers

Local products at food co-ops around the country average 21% of total co-op sales, compared with a national grocery store average of just 1.8%. Here at your Co-op, we’re extremely proud to report that 34% of our sales come from local products, thanks to our partnerships with more than 400 local farmers and food producers! Supporting these local farmers and producers with your food dollars helps to decrease environmental impact by reducing the fossil fuel consumption and air pollution associated with transporting foods over long distances. At the average chain supermarket, most of the food items you buy travel over 1500 miles to reach your plate via lengthy truck and plane trips. This not only causes massive fuel consumption and pollution but also involves the need for packing and shipping facilities and refrigeration throughout the supply chain, consuming vast amounts of energy. The more food miles collected during food transportation, the more fossil fuels are burned, allowing more harmful greenhouse gas emissions to be released into the atmosphere.

 

Supporting Organic

Nationwide, co-op shoppers demonstrate an inspiring commitment to the environment, with organic sales at co-ops totaling over $415 million annually. Organic farming methods have been scientifically validated  as being not only more sustainable but a potential answer to some of our most pressing environmental problems. On average more than 33% of the products co-ops carry are USDA Certified Organic and represent 42% of a co-op’s total sales, compared with a national grocery store average of just 5%. Certified organic food by law cannot be grown using toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMO seeds. Beyond the benefit to individual shoppers is the positive impact organic agriculture has on natural systems. Organic methods are supportive of all levels of life from soil microbes to pollinators to the health of farmworkers in the fields.

 

Tackling Food Waste

Spoilage is a perennial challenge for the food industry. Diverting food from the landfill is the key, and co-ops tackle that through donations to food pantries, composting, and better utilization of cooking scraps. Nationally, the average food co-op is donating 24,100 pounds of healthy, edible food to food pantries annually, with a total of more than 1.5 million pounds of food donated in 2016 alone. Similarly-sized conventional grocery stores divert an average of 12,500 pounds, about half of what co-ops do. Here at your Co-op, food waste reduction is a particular passion and we’re proud to have donated over 6,500 pounds of food to our local food shelves last year. Non-marketable foods that are not fit for human consumption are passed along to local farmers who pick up our compost regularly to feed their animals. The remaining food scraps that aren’t fit for animal consumption (coffee grounds, meat scraps, etc.) are picked up by Casella Waste Management and become compost. These practices support our planet by reducing the significant greenhouse gas emissions associated with food scraps entering a landfill and by making the most of the energy expenditure that went into producing those food items in the first place. 

Promoting Reuse and Recycling

According to a 2012 Impact Study, co-ops recycle 96 percent of cardboard, 74 percent of food waste, and 81 percent of plastics compared to 91 percent, 36 percent, and 29 percent, respectively, recycled by conventional grocers. Your Co-op understands that recycling isn’t the panacea we all once believed it to be, so we’ve doubled down on our efforts to reuse and upcycle as many items as possible. We dedicated the Spring 2019 and Spring 2020 issues of our Under the Sun newsletter to this important topic, complete with a map in the 2019 edition centerfold highlighting all of the items throughout the store that are reused either by local farmers and producers (apple crates, delivery boxes, maple syrup buckets, and honey buckets) or by customers (spice scoops, egg cartons, product delivery boxes, etc.). We also installed a cardboard bailer to allow us to minimize the number of trips required by Casella to pick up our recycled cardboard and we’re constantly exploring new ways to offer products without packaging. 

Supporting Sustainable Infrastructure

Buildings have direct environmental impacts, ranging from the use of raw materials for their construction and renovation to the consumption of natural resources, like water and fossil fuels, and the emission of harmful substances. When your Co-op expanded in 2017, significant efforts were made to minimize the environmental impact of the physical store. We prioritized the integrity of the building “envelope” to ensure a high level of control over indoor air quality, temperature, humidity levels, and energy consumption. We also made every effort to use sustainable building materials, installed LED and solar lighting throughout the building and parking lot, and integrated hyper-efficient refrigeration systems. The efficiency of refrigeration systems has a critical impact on a store’s carbon footprint, as refrigeration can account for as much as a third of a typical grocery store’s electricity usage and the refrigerants used in refrigeration systems have a greenhouse warming potential many thousand times that of carbon dioxide. Therefore, reducing refrigerant leaks and carefully maintaining refrigeration systems can have a significant impact. 

While we truly believe Earth Day should be celebrated every day, we love having a specific day set aside to honor our incredible planet and we enjoy the conversation it inspires with regard to environmental sustainability and climate action. People like you make it happen. When you shop at the co-op, your money makes a bigger impact in your local community than at a typical grocery store. At the co-op, your food dollars work to support a robust local economy, a vibrant community, and a healthy environment. Thanks to co-op shopper support, local farmers and producers continue to have a market for their delicious food, organic agriculture continues to grow, local food pantries and nonprofit organizations have a strong partner and together we are making progress towards a fairer food system.

Going Bagless for Earth Day!

Monday, April 22nd is Earth Day, and in honor of this fine holiday, we’re going bagless! The day will serve as a great reminder that there are many ways to bag your groceries, so why not choose the GREEN way? Please bring your baskets, reusable bags, repurposed cardboard boxes, or any grocery tote you prefer. If you forget, no problem; we’ll be giving away free reusable bags while supplies last, and we’ll also have repurposed cardboard boxes available.

Stop by the Co-op on 4/22 and enter our Raffle to win the earth friendly “Reusables Rejoice” prize pictured above!

Why bother with reusable grocery totes? Here are some interesting facts about disposable shopping bags:

While disposable paper and plastic bags seem awfully convenient, their cost to the environment can be hefty.

Plastic Bags

It is estimated that 5 trillion plastic bags are produced each year. Each plastic bag is used, on average, for about 20 minutes, though it takes a single bag over 1,000 years to completely decompose in a landfill. As it decomposes, it releases greenhouse gases into our atmosphere and releases harmful toxins into our soil and groundwater. Bags that don’t make it to the landfill litter the landscape and pose a significant threat to animal health and well-being; particularly for birds and aquatic life.

Plastic bags are quite commonly mistaken for food by animals, especially when the bags carry food residues, are brightly colored or are animated by the movement of water. A great variety of animals, land and especially marine, can choke to death on bags. If swallowed whole, animals may not be able to digest real food and die a slow death from starvation or infection. Plastic bags are responsible for the death of over a million seabirds and an estimated 100,000 whales, dolphins, turtles, and seals each year.

Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic bags annually. That is equivalent to dumping nearly 12 billion barrels of oil. But, what if you recycle them? That seems like a more environmentally-friendly way to go, right? Unfortunately, it takes 85 times more energy to recycle a plastic bag than it does to create it.

Paper Bags

Perhaps you opt for paper bags, instead of plastic. Those are better for the environment, right? Believe it or not, paper production creates 70% more pollution during production than plastic bags. One must also consider that paper bags are made from trees that could instead be absorbing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere if they weren’t busy becoming bags. The paper bag making process also results in 50 times more water pollutants than making plastic bags and uses more water during production.

While it’s true that plastic bags are made from crude oil, making a paper bag consumes four times as much energy as making a plastic bag, so the process of making paper bags consumes a good deal of oil as fuel for production, making both paper and plastic bags very oil-intensive products.

You can certainly recycle paper bags, though much like plastic bags, the process for recycling paper bags can be inefficient – often consuming more fuel than it would take to make a brand new bag.

In short, when it comes to the battle over which is greener, neither paper nor plastic has it in the bag.

Here are some great tips for remembering your reusable shopping bags:

  • Keep your bags in your car or purse so you have them every time you go out.
  • Make a note on your grocery list to grab the bags before you leave the house.
  • Get the kids in on it! Have them be the ones to get excited and bring the bags with them when you take them along shopping.
  • If you only have a couple of easy-to-carry items and are asked if you would like a bag,  say ” no, thank you”  If you are not asked if you would like a bag,  say “I don’t need a bag, thank you.” Simple.
  • If you do forget your reusable bags, check out the hallway area near the customer restroom. This area is often stocked with cardboard boxes from our deliveries, which are handy repurposed grocery totes.
  • Keep in mind, however, that to get the full greenhouse gas benefit from a reusable bag, it must be reused over 100 times. Reusable bags are energy-intensive to produce, but if you reuse them often over the years, the benefits really add up!
Bags to give away
Earth Balls Outside

Going Bagless for Earth Day!

Sunday, April 22nd is Earth Day, and in honor of this fine holiday, we’re going bagless! The day will serve as a great reminder that there are many ways to bag your groceries, so why not choose the GREEN way? Please bring your baskets, reusable bags, repurposed cardboard boxes, or any grocery tote you prefer. If you forget, no problem; we’ll be giving away free reusable bags while supplies last, and we’ll also have repurposed cardboard boxes available.

Why bother with reusable grocery totes? Here are some interesting facts about disposable shopping bags:

While disposable paper and plastic bags seem awfully convenient, their cost to the environment can be hefty.

Plastic Bags

It is estimated that 5 trillion plastic bags are produced each year. Each plastic bag is used, on average, for about 20 minutes, though it takes a single bag over 1,000 years to completely decompose in a landfill. As it decomposes, it releases greenhouse gases into our atmosphere and releases harmful toxins into our soil and groundwater. Bags that don’t make it to the landfill litter the landscape and pose a significant threat to animal health and well-being; particularly for birds and aquatic life.

Plastic bags are quite commonly mistaken for food by animals, especially when the bags carry food residues, are brightly colored or are animated by the movement of water. A great variety of animals, land and especially marine, can choke to death on bags. If swallowed whole, animals may not be able to digest real food and die a slow death from starvation or infection. Plastic bags are responsible for the death of over a million seabirds and an estimated 100,000 whales, dolphins, turtles, and seals each year.

Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic bags annually. That is equivalent to dumping nearly 12 billion barrels of oil. But, what if you recycle them? That seems like a more environmentally-friendly way to go, right? Unfortunately, it takes 85 times more energy to recycle a plastic bag than it does to create it.

Paper Bags

Perhaps you opt for paper bags, instead of plastic. Those are better for the environment, right? Believe it or not, paper production creates 70% more pollution during production than plastic bags. One must also consider that paper bags are made from trees that could instead be absorbing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere if they weren’t busy becoming bags. The paper bag making process also results in 50 times more water pollutants than making plastic bags and uses more water during production.

While it’s true that plastic bags are made from crude oil, making a paper bag consumes four times as much energy as making a plastic bag, so the process of making paper bags consumes a good deal of oil as fuel for production, making both paper and plastic bags very oil-intensive products.

You can certainly recycle paper bags, though much like plastic bags, the process for recycling paper bags can be inefficient – often consuming more fuel than it would take to make a brand new bag.

In short, when it comes to the battle over which is greener, neither paper nor plastic has it in the bag.

 

Here are some great tips for remembering your reusable shopping bags:

 

  • Keep your bags in your car or purse so you have them every time you go out.
  • Make a note on your grocery list to grab the bags before you leave the house.
  • Get the kids in on it! Have them be the ones to get excited and bring the bags with them when you take them along shopping.
  • If you only have a couple of easy-to-carry items and are asked if you would like a bag,  say ” no, thank you”  If you are not asked if you would like a bag,  say “I don’t need a bag, thank you.” Simple.
  • If you do forget your reusable bags, check out the hallway area near the customer restroom. This area is often stocked with cardboard boxes from our deliveries, which are handy repurposed grocery totes.
  • Keep in mind, however, that to get the full greenhouse gas benefit from a reusable bag, it must be reused over 100 times. Reusable bags are energy-intensive to produce, but if you reuse them often over the years, the benefits really add up!
Bags to give away
Earth Balls Outside

Earth Day 2017!

Mark your calendars, folks! Saturday, April 22nd is Earth Day! We hope you’ll drop by the Co-op to join the celebration. We’ll have demos from earth-friendly organizations, we’ll raffle off an exciting prize package containing some of our favorite local earth-friendly products, and the deli will be sharing free samples of their famous “Dirt & Worms” while supplies last!

BYOB – Bring Your Own Bags

We’d also like to remind you to please bring your reusable shopping bags because we’re going bagless! The day will serve as a great reminder that there many ways to bag your groceries, so why not choose the GREEN way? Please bring your baskets, reusable bags, repurposed cardboard boxes, or any grocery tote you prefer. If you forget, no problem; we’ll be giving away free reusable bags while supplies last, and we’ll also have repurposed cardboard boxes available.

BYOC – Bring Your Own Container

Aside from bringing your reusable grocery totes, we also encourage you to bring your own containers for certain items in the store. Opting to bring your own container helps save pesky packaging waste and, in many cases, helps you save money. It’s a win-win! Bring your own container to the Co-op for purchasing:

  • items from bulk bins
  • Aqua Vitea kombucha
  • honey (ask any bulk staffer to fill your jar)
  • maple syrup (ask any bulk staffer to fill your jar)
  • peanut butter (visit the peanut grinder in the bulk department)
  • bulk tea
  • bulk herbs
  • bulk spices
  • coffee beans
  • hot coffee
  • hot tea
  • salad bar
  • hot soup
  • castile soap
  • bath salts
  • echinacea
  • beeswax
  • lotion

Just be sure to first visit the scale located in the bulk department to weigh your container. This is known as the tare weight. Marking this weight on your container ensures that you will not be paying for the weight of your container when the cashier rings up your purchase. If you’d like some assistance weighing your containers, just ask any staff member and we’d be more than happy to assist you!

Here’s a look at the environmental impact of bringing your own container for a handful of common products:

 

 

Going Bagless for Earth Day!

Friday, April 22nd is Earth Day, and in honor of this fine holiday, we’re going bagless! The day will serve as a great reminder that there many ways to bag your groceries, so why not choose the GREEN way? Please bring your baskets, reusable bags, repurposed cardboard boxes, or any grocery tote you prefer. If you forget, no problem; we’ll be giving away free reusable bags while supplies last, and we’ll also have repurposed cardboard boxes available.

Why bother with reusable grocery totes? Here are some interesting facts about disposable shopping bags:

While disposable paper and plastic bags seem awfully convenient, their cost to the environment can be hefty.

Plastic Bags

It is estimated that 5 trillion plastic bags are produced each year. Each plastic bag is used, on average, for about 20 minutes, though it takes a single bag over 1,000 years to completely decompose in a landfill. As it decomposes, it releases greenhouse gases into our atmosphere and releases harmful toxins into our soil and groundwater. Bags that don’t make it to the landfill litter the landscape and pose a significant threat to animal health and well-being; particularly for birds and aquatic life.

Plastic bags are quite commonly mistaken for food by animals, especially when the bags carry food residues, are brightly colored or are animated by the movement of water. A great variety of animals, land and especially marine, can choke to death on bags. If swallowed whole, animals may not be able to digest real food and die a slow death from starvation or infection. Plastic bags are responsible for the death of over a million sea birds and an estimated 100,000 whales, dolphins, turtles, and seals each year.

Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic bags annually. That is equivalent to dumping nearly 12 billion barrels of oil. But, what if you recycle them? That seems like a more environmentally-friendly way to go, right? Unfortunately, it takes 85 times more energy to recycle a plastic bag than it does to create it.

Paper Bags

Perhaps you opt for paper bags, instead of plastic. Those are better for the environment, right? Believe it or not, paper production creates 70% more pollution during production than plastic bags. One must also consider that paper bags are made from trees that could instead be absorbing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere if they weren’t busy becoming bags. The paper bag making process also results in 50 times more water pollutants than making plastic bags, and uses more water during production.

While it’s true that plastic bags are made from crude oil, making a paper bag consumes four times as much energy as making a plastic bag, so the process of making paper bags consumes a good deal of oil as fuel for production, making both paper and plastic bags very oil-intensive products.

You can certainly recycle paper bags, though much like plastic bags, the process for recycling paper bags can be inefficient – often consuming more fuel than it would take to make a brand new bag.

In short, when it comes to the battle over which is greener, neither paper nor plastic have it in the bag.

 

Here are some great tips for remembering your reusable shopping bags:

 

  • Keep your bags in your car or purse so you have them every time you go out.
  • Make a note on your grocery list to grab the bags before you leave the house.
  • Get the kids in on it! Have them be the ones to get excited and bring the bags with them when you take them along shopping.
  • If you only have a couple of easy-to-carry items, and are asked if you would like a bag say ” no, thank you”  If you are not asked if you would like a bag say “I don’t need a bag, thank you.” Simple.
  • If you do forget your reusable bags, check out the hallway area near the customer restroom. This area is often stocked with cardboard boxes from our deliveries, which are handy repurposed grocery totes.
  • Keep in mind, however, that to get the full greenhouse gas benefit from a reusable bag, it must be reused over 100 times. Reusable bags are energy-intensive to produce, but if your reuse them often over the years, the benefits really add up!
Bags to give away
Earth Balls Outside

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