As 2016 comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about just how much there is to be grateful for this year. As a cooperative we accomplished so much, especially in the area of environmental sustainability.
Just in the past twelve months, with staff and community help, we were able to:
1.Implement a commercial composting system which diverted an estimated 27,840 pounds of waste from the landfill (to date). Diverting these materials from the landfill means these materials will actually take carbon from the air and sequester it in the soil as farmers spread the nutrient dense compost on their farms.
2. Identify a partner to accept our back-of-the-house plastic packaging in addition to plastics #3 – #7 and plastic bags of all sorts from customers. Although there is a lag in reporting, our best estimate is that we’ve sent over 3,000 pounds of materials to be recycled, diverting this from the landfill and giving the materials another chance at life by being made into new materials.
3. Bring solar to our building, which as I write this, has generated 29,509 kwh of electricity since installation (the average N.H. home uses about 7,500 kwh in a year). This project was also the pilot project for the Monadnock Sustainability Network’s Community Supported Solar initiative and we should see similar projects popping up in our region next year. Check out their website through the links above for more information!
4. Brand a handled mason jar and a responsibly sourced Klean Kanteen coffee mug (both of which make great gifts!) and sell them as close to cost as we can to encourage customers to reuse, instead of opting for disposable cups each time they purchase a hot or cold beverage (if you do opt for disposable, remember the paper coffee cup can be composted and the (clean) lid can go in the bin at the front of the store for #3 – #7 plastic!).
5. Host the largest Monadnock Region Earth Day Festival in memory – and plans are already underway for the 2017 celebration!
6. Continue expanding our Green Team; they were able to take several field trips to further their learning about how environmental sustainability affects and impacts our business. They also helped us tackle many in-store issues, including shaping our recently rolled out “Talking Trash” Sustainability Training for all staff at the co-op. This training helps staff understand more deeply why recycling and composting is important and how to optimize use of systems in the store.
The theme throughout all of these initiatives is collaboration and community. All of these projects took many people from inside the store coming together, as well as throughout our community to make each and every one of these things happen. When we look back, it’s easy to see that we are making our store and our community a more sustainable place, one day at a time!