Shopping Sustainably

For ten weeks this summer the Co-op hosted Brett Schultz, a Fellow from University of New Hampshire’s Sustainability Institute. Working with the Co-op’s ESG Program Manager, Brett helped us move the needle on our B Impact Assessment scores (no, we’re not applying for B-Corp status, but we are using the framework to help us be a better company!).

By identifying and categorizing products that align with our values we can highlight and promote those products in stores as a key differentiator. Brett also brought our 2019 GHG emissions data up to date so we can continue to make progress toward our net zero emissions goal.

Here’s Brett to talk more about his work:

Putting Values into Practice

If you’re like me, grocery shopping often seems like an automated task. We typically create a list of things we need beforehand, and usually stick with the products we recognize. While I would love to prioritize buying food that is locally, ethically, and sustainability sourced, I simply don’t have the time to research and check the labels of every item. 

However, let’s imagine a world where I have the time to factor these traits into the products I am buying. By doing this, I am not only reinvesting my money back into the local community but am supporting businesses that have environmentally friendly and socially friendly policies in place.

In a world where we all have the time and resources to do this, the impact would be even larger. Not only would these sustainability focused businesses see even more success, but other companies would be incentivized to implement similar practices. 

The Co-op Way

Fortunately for us, we are living in that world. At the Co-op, we are using our purchasing power to source high-quality products in accordance with our values of featuring products that are: 

  • Locally sourced 
  • Ethically sourced
  • Sustainably sourced
  • By businesses that are owned by unrepresented populations
  • By businesses that value the well-being of their employees 

While we have been able to carry out this mission, we recognize that most shoppers don’t have the time to do this on a product-by-product basis. To fix this problem, we want to give consumers the ability to make more informed decisions while not requiring them to spend additional time shopping. 

What Comes Next

Over the next few months, we will begin to flag products in stores that have various third-party certifications and other product designations. Examples include highlighting products that are B-Corp certified, locally sourced, and those that use the cooperative business model. 

Until then, we encourage all shoppers to reflect on the traits they find most important when buying products. Soon, we will have a time-efficient system that will allow us to support businesses with favorable practices and encourage all companies to do the same.

— Brett Schultz
(Brett is an incoming sophomore at the University of New Hampshire studying Accounting, Entrepreneurial Studies, and Sustainability.

This summer, he has been working on behalf of the Co-op to help them with their product sourcing, specifically in the areas of flagging brands and vendors that best align with the company’s mission and values.) 

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Guest Author

The Co-op News occasionally publishes posts from guest authors. Interested? Email comment at coopfoodstore dot com.