Iowa City, IA – From reducing carbon footprints to increasing staff diversity, retail food co-ops nationwide consistently honor the co-op principle “concern for community” as part of their business practices. National Co+op Grocers (NCG) recently celebrated eight co-ops that last year made extraordinary advances in this area with its annual Co+efficient Sustainability Star Awards.
Introduced in 2014, Co+efficient is a sustainability program NCG designed to benchmark and improve co-ops’ social, environmental and local economic impacts. The Co+efficient Sustainability Star Awards – now in their third year – spotlight co-ops that made the greatest year-over-year improvements.
Presented in April 2018 at NCG’s annual meeting in Durham, N.C., the Co+efficient 2017 Sustainability Star Awards recipients were:
- Boise Co-op (Boise, Idaho) reduced overall waste by 5 percent in 2017, in part by partnering with a nonprofit farm to take 15,000 pounds of compostable materials annually. New, more efficient freezers helped the store reduce energy use by 10-15 percent.
- BriarPatch Food Co-op’s (Grass Valley, Ca.) inclusive hiring practices resulted in more diversity among its staff and its entire staff earns a local livable wage. In addition, new solar panels reduced the store’s carbon footprint by over 300 tons of CO2.
- Community Food Co-op (Bellingham, Wash.) cut its carbon footprint by 280 tons by reducing refrigerant gas leaks through additional preventative maintenance. The co-op also set and achieved a goal for 90 percent waste diversion.
- Concord Food Co-op (Concord, N.H.) set a goal to reduce energy use by 5 percent in one year and exceeded it with a 7 percent reduction. The co-op partnered with a local group on a program that works toward a more inclusive workforce. It also donated 1,000 hours of volunteer time in its community.
- Marquette Food Co-op (Marquette, Mich.) used 25 percent less energy per square foot than the national average. In 2017, all staff earned a local livable wage. The co-op prioritizes safety by providing fresh food and deli staff an average of eight hours of food safety training annually.
- Orcas Food Co-op (Eastsound, Wash.) reduced its energy use by an estimated 5 percent in one year. The co-op addressed inclusion by providing its membership application in Spanish as well as English. Its Sustainable FARM Fund has supported innovative projects at six local farms in just two years.
- The Merc Co+op (Lawrence, Kan.) completed installation of 330 solar panels that will save $1 million over 25 years. Nearly three-fourths of co-op staff participated in community outreach volunteering programs, and the co-op provided $15,000 in assistance for healthy food access.
- Willy Street Co-op (Madison, Wis.) helped incubate local producers with its Retail Ready Lab. The co-op supported healthy food access by providing $237,000 in assistance and multiple programs for those in need. The co-op’s staff earned a local living wage, and it launched a new co-op green team.
“We congratulate these co-ops for their tremendous efforts in improving their communities and the planet,” said C.E. Pugh, interim chief executive officer, National Co+op Grocers. “They not only undertook multiple, meaningful endeavors, they also carefully documented and tracked their progress. These efforts will go a long way in helping other co-ops and organizations learn from and implement their own initiatives. Their work is incredibly valuable and greatly appreciated.”
National Co+op Grocers (NCG), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCG helps unify food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere. Our 147 member and associate co-ops operate more than 200 storefronts in 37 states with combined annual sales of nearly $2.1 billion. NCG is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence and a Certified B Corp. Find a map of NCG member and associate co-ops. To learn more about co-ops, visit www.strongertogether.coop.
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