Today, National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) is proud to announce a new partnership with Pur Projet, an international collective that develops socio-environmental projects to regenerate, revitalize and preserve the ecosystem in partnership with disadvantaged communities. In efforts to enhance its sustainability goals, NCGA is working with Pur Projet to regrow forest in northern Peru along the Huayabamba River.
"As a co-op, we're very environmentally conscious. We're also a national organization with 134 co-ops in 36 states, and serving our co-ops well results in a lot of travel," said Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCGA. "In 2012, we logged about 2.5 million air miles, emitting roughly 450 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We were looking for a way to mitigate this environmental impact. Rather than simply buying and trading carbon credits, we wanted to neutralize our carbon footprint in a more meaningful and lasting way."
NCGA’s forest is part of Pur Projet's Alto Huayabamba Project, a reforestation program that partners with 1,800 indigenous farmers belonging to the ACOPAGRO cooperative. The ACOPAGRO cooperative grows and produces organic, fair trade cacao. The co-op was initially funded by the United Nations in efforts to shift farming away from the illegal production of coca, used for cocaine on the illicit drug trade. Coca growers originally used “slash and burn” methods to clear the land, contributing heavily to deforestation in the area. Today, as a result of the ACOPAGRO cooperative’s focus on sustainable agroforestry, they are helping to ensure social and environmental recovery in the region.
Trees naturally absorb excess carbon dioxide—a greenhouse gas—from the air, slowing down climate change. In the Peruvian rainforest ecology, it takes three trees planted and maintained for forty years to remove one ton of carbon dioxide. NCGA has already funded the planting of 1,404 trees. When NCGA’s forest matures, it will remove more than 400 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, a number that will grow with each new tree planted.
“We are honored to be the first U.S. partner to plant trees in Pur Projet’s innovative program,” said Shrader. “Together we are offsetting the environmental impacts of necessary business travel while also helping a community heal by reforesting a vulnerable landscape and helping support the production of organic chocolate. Encouraging responsible, sustainable farming techniques and slowing global climate change is an important expression of our co-op’s values.”
Pur Projet provides the research, accreditation and on-the-ground connections necessary for the operation, while NCGA funds the planting of the trees, working together to improve the air we breathe. For more information, visit Pur Projet.com.
National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCGA 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 134 member and associate co-ops operate 171 storefronts in 36 states with combined annual sales over $1.5 billion. NCGA is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence in recognition of the application of cooperative values and principles to drive cooperative and business success. In 2012, NCGA became a Certified B Corporation, a rigorous certification that recognizes business standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Find a map of NCGA member and associate co-ops. Learn more about co-ops at StrongerTogether.coop or Go.coop.