Wise moms everywhere remind us that actions speak louder than words. We can all talk about saving our planet but making those smart and sometimes challenging choices every day is what's going to get the job done. We've been trying to make green choices since we opened our first store. We understand that companies can have a large impact on our environment.
We were the first major retailer to offset 100% of our energy use with wind energy credits. And we are glad to see that some of the world's largest retailers are following the example we've set in green building, the use of solar power, company-wide recycling programs, internal green mission programs and support for organics. When more companies take green steps, we all win.
Do we have a perfect track record? Nope. Have we found solutions for all of the green issues affecting our stores? Not yet. But we are working on it. We promise you that our team members are concerned, driven people who are searching for ways to do more every day. If that sounds passionate, well, it is. The people who work here — from the CEO on down — are passionate about food, good health and the future of this little blue dot that we all call home.
The 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Everyone around here strives to honor this golden rule of environmental stewardship.
Our stores are taking the initiative in many areas to reduce our impact on the earth and its resources including:
Implementing paperless ordering systems to reduce paper waste.
Supporting carpooling and public transportation for team members.
Implementing the use of power monitors and other technology to reduce our energy consumption.
Using compostable supplies for food and wine sampling.
Composting, which has reduced our landfill waste by up to 75% in some regions.
Banning plastic grocery bags.
We reuse material of all kinds whenever possible. For example:
We strongly encourage using reusable grocery bags by providing affordable bags and by paying at least a nickel-per-bag refund.
We are implementing the use of reusable and compostable plates and bowls in our dining areas.
We save packing peanuts and donate them to local shipping stores, plus we work with suppliers to eliminate Styrofoam use in shipping.
We're excited about our pioneering composting program. Spoiled produce and other compostable waste that used to go into landfills is now being backhauled by our delivery trucks to regional facilities where it is turned into compost. Then, we donate it to community gardens or sell it in our stores, reducing our landfill waste by up to 75%. Other examples of recycling initiatives include:
Replacing disposable batteries with rechargeable ones.
Holding company and community recycling drives for electronics.
Using recycled paper with a high percentage of post-consumer waste whenever possible.
Providing receptacles for glass and plastic recycling in our dining areas along with collection boxes in many stores for cell phones and ink jet cartridges.
In January of 2006, we made our first landmark purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) from wind farms to offset 100% of the electricity used in all of our stores and other facilities in the United States and Canada. In 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, we did it again! This green action and others earned us the Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partner of the Year 2006, 2007 and 2010. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency recognized us for our green power purchases with a Green Power Leadership Award in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Our investment in wind energy supports the clean energy industry and helps us avoid nearly 551,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution. That's an environmental benefit equivalent to not consuming 1,200,000 barrels of oil or avoiding the annual electricity usage of 65,000 average-sized homes*. Learn more about how national wind RECs work.
*For more details on these calculations and clean energy in general, visit the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Energy page.
Individual stores from several regions supplement our wind credit purchase with power from solar panels. A typical solar installation can:
Produce and save more than 2.2 million kilowatt hours over 20 years
Result in more than 1,650 tons of CO2 emissions avoided, the equivalent of removing 440 cars from the roadways
Reduce the impact on our country's power grids
In 2002, our Berkeley store became the nation's first major food retailer to introduce solar energy as its primary lighting power source. More of our stores followed suit; for example our Brentwood, California, store uses solar energy for 24% of its power source and our Edgewater, New Jersey, store hosts an impressive array of 14,000 square feet of solar panels.
Green building techniques conserve natural resources by reducing the use of virgin raw materials and minimizing the amount of toxic resins and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) off-gassed by traditional building materials such as laminates, paint and carpeting. Our store in Sarasota, Florida received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council , the first-ever environmentally-friendly supermarket designed in accordance with the LEED Green Building Rating System®. As of March 2010 we had about ten LEED rated stores, including two LEED Gold; we also had two Green Globes certified stores—our Dedham, MA store earned 3 globes (the equivalent to LEED Gold), thanks in part to a fuel cell and solar panels that generate on site nearly 100% of the store's power needs.
New store construction includes innovative green materials such as MDF (medium density fiberboard), made from 100% recovered and recycled wood fiber; Marmoleum, a natural linoleum product; and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certified Wood.
Organics is at the root of everything we do. Organic agriculture produces food that promotes the health of consumers, farmers and the earth, with an eye to maintaining that health far into the future. Organic farming is a hopeful enterprise, practiced with compassion and empathy for the land and the creatures upon it.
Builds healthy, vital soil that's rich with microorganisms and nutrients so it holds moisture, resists erosion and absorbs CO2 to help thwart global warming.
Promotes biodiversity, reducing the danger of large scale crop failure and plant disease.
Relies on natural prevention instead of poison. No persistent pesticides, fungicides or herbicides are allowed on organic farms.
Preserves the integrity of meat and dairy products by prohibiting the use of antibiotics and artificial growth hormones.
Honors the role that domestic animals play in the cycle of life.
Protects the safety of food and the integrity of soil and crops by prohibiting the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Safeguards water quality by eliminating harmful runoff from artificial fertilizers and other toxic chemicals.
Saves energy through reduced reliance on fossil fuels.
Palm Oil Pledge
Whole Foods Market is concerned with the social and environmental impacts of palm oil production in tropical rainforest ecosystems around the world, and our company supports the protection of rainforests, communities and our global climate.
We are proud to report that 99 percent of Whole Foods Market’s 365 Everyday Value® brand food items containing palm oil, palm kernel oil, palm fruit oil and palm shortening are certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) as produced using only certified, traceable, responsibly produced palm oil sources. We expect to achieve 100-percent certification before the end of 2016.
We pledge to support the development of more sources of sustainable, fairly traded palm oil, and we will respect the free, prior and informed consent of interested communities and meet validated sustainability criteria. Whole Foods Market calls on our peers in the food industry to join us.
Other Green Initiatives
In addition to the major efforts listed above, we are doing the following:
Compostable food packaging — We are in the process of replacing traditional plastic and paper prepared food containers and utensils with all-natural fiber packaging. Made from renewable resources such as begasse made from sugar cane pulp and wood fibers, they are compostable and, because they are unbleached, free from chlorine and dioxins. In some regions this type of fiber packaging may have been treated with non-elemental chlorine bleach (that does not have the same environmental detriments as industrial chlorine bleach) and therefore may appear lighter in color.
Biodiesel — We are gradually converting our truck fleet to biodiesel fuels, reducing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Our fleet is also being fitted with aerodynamic aprons to cut down on wind resistance resulting in less fuel consumption. These trucks also use a fuel-saving (and emissions-cutting) system that allows the engine to be turned off completely at loading and delivery, rather than remain idling.
Water Conservation — Some stores converted to flush-less urinals; each will save approximately 40,000 gallons of water per year (average use).
5% Day Donations — A significant number of our individual stores' 5% Days have an environmental mission: helping clean up air, rivers, oceans and landfills, to name a few.
Cleaning Supplies — Some stores are using Green Seal certified cleaning supplies and others are transitioning to the use of environmentally friendly cleaning and maintenance products.
Printing Standards — We carefully evaluate the need for everything we print, and when we do print, we insist on recycled paper, and we strive to use water-based inks and solvent-free printing processes where they are available.
For most of these green programs and initiatives, we have goals and metrics in place. We've reported those goals to the Carbon Disclosure Project for four years running, as well as included our scope 1 and 2 green house gas emissions inventories in the last two years.